GREENSBORO, NC — The NCAA selection committee wasn’t all that impressed by the ACC this season. That was quite obvious with Sunday evening’s unveiling of the 2013 NCAA tournament.
For the first time ever, a team that won both the ACC’s regular season and conference tournament failed to land a No. 1 seed when Miami was given a No. 2 seed. The Hurricanes (27-6) had the No. 4 overall RPI and became the first team to ever beat North Carolina and NC State twice each in the state of North Carolina in the same season.
Including the two games this weekend at the Greensboro Coliseum, the Hurricanes won at UNC and NC State during the regular season. The four games were played in front of more than 80,000 people, but apparently that and routing Duke in one of its victories and owning more true road wins than any team in the nation.
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Duke (27-5) apparently wasn’t evaluated with the Ryan Kelly injury as a factor. The Blue Devils were 9-4 without Kelly, who suffered a foot injury against Clemson in early January, and 18-1 with him. That loss came against Maryland last Friday in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals.
The Blue Devils have the No. 1 RPI, the No. 1 strength of schedule and are 18-1 as a complete team, yet that wasn’t good enough for the committee.
North Carolina (24-10) has some ugly losses to quality teams on its resume, but the No. 8 seed Tar Heels, who are No. 16 in the RPI, also have 24 victories and obviously pass the eye test, which doesn’t matter given many of the committee’s decisions.
Not only does Roy Williams’ team have to play Villanova in their first game, but if they win they likely get top-seed Kansas in Kansas City. The committee says it never looks at what’s written across a team’s chest, but there’s no way on earth the committee didn’t know what it was doing with that possible matchup. And given that Williams used to coach the Jayhawks for 15 years, sending him back into that region just isn’t right.
NC State has the least to complain about. The Wolfpack (24-10) are better on paper than a No. 8 seed although their No. 32 RPI doesn’t suggest that. NC State will take on No. 41 Temple in Dayton, Ohio, and if they win will probably face top-seed Indiana.
Virginia (21-11) and Maryland (22-12) didn’t get in, despite some very nice parts to both resumes. The Cavaliers have four wins over teams in the top 32 of the RPI and Maryland has beaten Duke twice in the last month.
Committee chairman Mike Bobinski said in the case of a team such as Middle Tennessee State, which is 28-5 and a No. 28 RPI but failed to win the Sun Belt Conference tournament, an emphasis was put on true road wins.
Well, MTSU lost at Florida by 21, lost at Akron, lost at Belmont by 15, and lost at RPI No. 162 Arkansas State. The Blue Raiders also lost to No. 112 Florida International in the Sun Belt tournament.
Middle Tennessee’s road wins: Savannah State; Central Florida; La-Lafayette; South Alabama; La-Monroe; North Texas; FIU; Florida Atlanta; Ark-Little Rock; Troy; and Western Kentucky. The average RPI of the teams they beat on the road is 193.
Virginia won three road games over teams with an average RPI of 89, one of them at Big Ten runner-up Wisconsin. Maryland also won just three road games, and the average RPI of those victims was only 171. But the Terrapins did defeat the No. 1 team in the nation on a neutral floor, and it just happens to be the only loss Duke suffered with Kelly in the lineup.
In the end, Virginia (No. 77) and Maryland (No. 64) didn’t do enough to get into the field. But neither got to play MTSU’s schedule.
So the ACC got just four teams in, and three are from the Research Triangle on Tobacco Road. Next season, when Georgia Tech and Boston College are much improved, Virginia will be a possible top-20 team, Duke and UNC will be Duke and UNC, and NC State and Maryland should still be good to very good, the ACC will also welcome in Notre Dame, Syracuse and Pittsburgh. All three are at-large teams in this year’s field.
So for the first time in recent history, the ACC really can say, “Wait ‘til next year.”