Getting into the NCAA tournament is easier than it used to be, especially if you’re from a power conference like the ACC. The league has placed at least a third of its members in the field every year since 2000. Ten ACC programs earned bids over the past two seasons alone, a sign of balance often overlooked by critics.
That’s not to say it’s easy making the NCAAs, as teams putatively on the bubble know all too well. At the end of a long season it seems almost cruel to fall just short of inclusion for debatable reasons, like handicaps enforced by long-forgotten injuries to key personnel or generalized denigration of the ACC overall.
Pitt lost big man John Hugley early in the year, key injuries supposedly a factor to be considered come tournament selection time. The Panthers then went to the final weekend of the regular season tied for first in the league standings, yet were readily tabbed a questionable NCAA entrant right up to the threshold of the ACC Tournament.
“The ACC is flat-out bad this year,” a USA Today writer from Portland, Oregon, pronounced with typical dismissiveness in early March as she discussed Pitt’s NCAA prospects.
Discounting the league was an issue last year and is again this season. In 2022 only five ACC clubs made the NCAA field, the fewest for the league in a decade. The ’22 contingent had only two representatives deemed worthy of single digit seeds – Duke at No.2 and UNC at 8. Both made the Final Four; No. 10 Miami reached the Elite 8.
Prior to this season ACC commissioner Jim Phillips suggested serious consideration be given to expanding the NCAAs, a proposal that might have the advantage of eliminating the angst of Power 5 bubble teams, placing them in the tournament and simultaneously putting the venerable NIT out of its irrelevant misery. Making room for matchups with more mid-major entrants (regular-season champs and league tournament winners) would enhance fairness without diminishing the allure of the NCAA tournament and its delightful prospect of shocking upsets.
2023 NCAA Tournament Not Included
Asterisk Indicates Big East Member In 2012, 2013
(No Tournament In 2020 Due to Covid)
|Team||Last Bid||Last 10 NCAAs|
|NOTE: Louisville reached NCAAs in 2014 as member American Athletic Conference.|