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The Most Inexplicable All-ACC Vote That Ever Happened, Part I

This took some ingenuity and that’s being polite.

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We have lots of ways to evaluate success in sports. Wins and losses are the most important metrics in team sports; some would say the only metric.

But we also value individual accomplishments. We have objective, stats-based criteria. There may be some disagreements on scoring decisions but with that exception everyone agrees on which athlete has the most touchdowns, the most home runs, the highest rebound-per-game average.

But there are more subjective barometers. All-Star teams, All-America teams, all-conference, MVP, Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year.

All selected by human beings, fallible, inconsistent human beings, a few with an agenda or a bias, most doing the best job they can.

But still human beings.

Which brings us to ACC basketball.

Duke has been involved with some of the league’s more curious decisions in this area.

Look at 2002. Duke’s Jason Williams won every national player of the year award. But he did not win the ACC Player of the Year Award. The media gave 41 votes to Maryland’s Juan Dixon, 38 votes to Williams, four votes to Duke’s Mike Dunleavy and one vote for NC State’s Anthony Grundy.

I cannot explain the vote for Grundy. But I also don’t see how anyone who followed Duke basketball could vote for Dunleavy over Williams. Give those four votes to Williams and we have a different winner.

Still, Dixon was a first-team All-American and Maryland did finish the ACC regular season at 15-1 to Duke’s 13-3.

So, team success matters.

But if team success matters so much, how do we explain 1986? St. John’s Walter Berry won most of the national POY awards but Johnny Dawkins did win the Naismith.

Dawkins received 40 votes for ACC POY. Maryland’s Len Bias received 86. Dawkins wasn’t even unanimous first-team All-ACC despite being a first-team All-America for a team ranked number one in the AP poll at the time of voting. Seven voters had Dawkins on second team.

Duke was more than just number one in the national poll. They completed a 12-2 ACC regular-season, Duke’s first non-tied regular-season crown since 1966.

Maryland finished 6-8.

Guess regular-season success doesn’t actually matter all that much.

There are others. Duke’s Bob Verga got the most votes for All-ACC in 1967 but lost the POY race to UNC’s Larry Miller 52-48. Six voters inexplicably left Miller off the first team.

But inexplicable doesn’t even begin to describe what happened in 1966.

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