OK, so North Carolina didn't make the field after winning the national championship a year ago. The Tar Heels were down. But that doesn't mean the rest of the ACC fell off the face of the Earth. The way people talk, you'd think the ACC had turned into the SWAC. Most experts were surprised that Duke was the third overall seed and expect the Dookies to get upset before the Final Four again.
But despite Carolina's woes, the ACC had an RPI of 3 and put six teams in the NCAA Tournament. The league is still very strong, and should make a lot of noise in the Big Dance. Duke is stronger on the interior than in recent years and has the easiest of the four regional brackets. I expect the Blue Devils to get to the Final Four and win the whole thing.
The demise of the ACC, in other words, has been a bit overstated.
"I agree," said Clemson coach Oliver Purnell during interview sessions at HSBC Arena today. "And if you talk to the coaches in our league, they expect North Carolina to be right back next year. When you hear it (that the ACC is down) in the print media, talk radio and TV, it becomes a popular story. So when it's repeated over and over, it can sway the perspective."
"Our (RPI) is about where it's always been," Purnell said. "Carolina is down, but we've got some excellent teams. A lot of people think Duke can make the Final Four. So we have that premier team. The other teams in our league are pretty good, trust me. Any of them can beat any team in the country on a given night."
We'll find out soon.
--- Jerry Sullivan