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ACC Teams That Have Had Trouble Making It To March Madness Lately

The top of the league is golden. The bottom? Not so much.

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NCAA Basketball: Boston College at Wake Forest
Jan 26, 2019; Winston-Salem, NC, USA; Boston College Eagles guard Ky Bowman (0) and Wake Forest Demon Deacons guard Brandon Childress (0) chases a ball in the first half at Lawrence Joel Coliseum.
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

There was a lot to distract our attention that week, what with the opening round of the NCAA tournament unfolding and seven ACC teams in the field. But out at the league’s edges, where losing seasons pile up like debts and fan enthusiasm droops under the weight of disappointment, two ACC programs defied tradition by making a point of retaining their current, persistently underwhelming head coaches.

Both Boston College and Wake Forest struggled this past decade, most recently with Jim Christian and Danny Manning, respectively, at the helm. Each posted a single winning record in five years on the job, raising questions about their ability to fashion successful ACC programs.

Underlining their wobbly grip on the task at hand, both teams ended 2019 on down notes. The Eagles finished with five straight losses, six in their last seven games. The Demon Deacons lost four in a row, five of their last six, to conclude the season.

BC wound up with five ACC wins, 14-17 overall. That was a regression from 2018, when Christian’s team won seven league games and finished 19-16 for his sole winning record at Chestnut Hill.

Wake won four times in conference play in ’19 and was 11-20 overall. Those marks reflected competitive stasis, exactly matching 2018.

Still, on March 19 Boston College announced to little fanfare that Christian would return for another season, accompanied by a strengthened commitment to the school’s basketball program. Three days later Wake Forest ostentatiously renewed its embrace of Manning.

Expect the upcoming 2019-20 season to be make or break for both men. (As was expected in 2018-19.) Perhaps the most telling measure will be whether Wake or BC can not only win more than it loses this go-round, as happened rarely in the past decade, but reach the NCAAs as well, the ultimate measure of success.

The Deacs achieved that level of prosperity just once since 2010 (under Manning in 2017); the Eagles haven’t landed in the NCAA tournament since 2009, the ACC’s longest drought. By this standard, Georgia Tech hasn’t done well lately, either, although it did reach the 2017 NIT title game in Josh Pastner’s initial season as head coach.

The ACC had seven teams in the ’19 NCAAs – Duke, Florida State, Louisville, North Carolina, Syracuse, Virginia and Virginia Tech. Here’s how long it’s been since the other eight league members made the tournament:

Records Over Past Decade Of ACC Teams That Missed 2019 NCAAs
(Listed In Descending Order By Most Recent NCAA Appearance, Notre
Dame and Pitt Entered League For 2014 Season)
School NCAA
Since 2010
Overall 2010s
Winning Records
2009 Boston College None (2) 2011, 2018
2010 Georgia Tech 1 of 10 (4) 2010, 2013, 2016, 2017
2016 Pittsburgh 5 of 10 (7) 2010-16
2017 Wake Forest 2 of 10 (3) 2010, 2014, 2017
2017 Notre Dame 7 of 10 (8) 2010-13, 2015-18
2018 Clemson 3 of 10 (9) 2010-12, 2014-19
2018 NC State 5 of 10 (7) 2010, 2012-15, 2018, 2019
2018 Miami 4 of 10 (9) 2010-18

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