How many NCAA bids will the ACC get?
by Eric Prisbell, USA TODAY Sports
If there is a conference that epitomizes this unpredictable college basketball season, look no further than the Atlantic Coast Conference, which has been underwhelming and fascinating at the same time.
On one hand, there is at least a chance the ACC, home to two of the past four national champions, could earn only half as many NCAA tournament bids (three) as the less-recognized-but-thriving Mountain West Conference.
On the other hand, the ACC is currently home to the team no one wants to play right now, Miami, which followed its 27-point trouncing of Duke by routing Florida State by 24 points on Sunday. Miami, which was not even ranked in last week’s USA TODAY Sports Coaches Poll, is now 6-0 in the league and ranked 15th this week.
Early-season losses to Florida Gulf Coast and Indiana State could ultimately prevent the Hurricanes from being grouped with the truly elite teams that are vying for No. 1 seeds in the NCAA tournament. But with the nation’s No. 1 strength of schedule, a top-five spot in the Ratings Percentage Index and victories against Michigan State and Duke, Miami is positioning itself to earn its best NCAA tournament seed this century. Miami has not received anything better than a No. 5 seed since earning a No. 2 seed in the 1999 tournament.
Miami is one of the few teams of consequence flush with veterans. Five of Miami’s top six scorers — including big man Reggie Johnson, who has returned quicker than expected from injury — are seniors, a dynamic rarely seen these days for teams in power conferences.
“Everybody would really love to have talent, and everybody would really love to have experienced talent,” North Carolina coach Roy Williams said. “If you can’t have both, you’ll take either one. I think that they have both.”
Much like the best teams in the Southeastern Conference, opportunities for quality victories, at least in the eyes of the NCAA tournament selection committee, are few and far between in the ACC. The Hurricanes have just three more regular-season games against teams currently in the RPI’s top 50.
And questions loom about all of the … [For more on How many NCAA bids will the unpredictable ACC get?, click here.]