Duke became the latest ACC team to flop in the tournament and it’s been a trend for the toughest conference in college hoops.
Back on selection Sunday the Atlantic Coast Conference stole the show landing nine teams in the big dance. The deepest and most talented collection of basketball programs were supposed to take the tournament by storm and rip through the competition.
Well fast forward a week and out of the initial nine only one remains still playing in the tournament. Duke, Wake Forest, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, Miami, Florida State, and the Cardinals have all suffered defeats over the past several days. Not only have these teams been bounced from the tourney but for squads like UL, FSU, ND, and Duke, who were highly seeded and had big expectations, it’s even more embarrassing.
FSU, a four seed, was blown out by almost 30. The Seminoles were deep and talented this season but they were inconsistent at times and in the end it cost them. They were matched up with a hot Xavier squad. Chris Mack’s squad is well coached and can really shoot the rock.
Louisville was another high seed with final four aspirations but came up short against a feisty Michigan Wolverines team. Rick Pitino’s squad led by as much as nine in the second half but defensive breakdowns and missed opportunities set them up to be a victim of the madness. Michigan moves on to the sweet 16 and UL will look ahead to next season where they should return a talented roster.
The Fighting Irish lost a dog fight to a hard nosed West Virginia team. The Mountaineers shot over 50% from deep, their strongest showing all season. Mike Brey’s team overachieved this year in most people’s honest opinion but they won’t be satisfied with the early tournament departure.
Analysts and Insiders shame the ACC for lack of production in the tournament and after the Blue Devils debacle it seems shade thrown at the conference is deserved. Duke was in many odds favored to win the tournament. Coach K’s squad was fresh off a ACC tournament title run. Things appeared to be coming together everyone was finally healthy, the big three was rolling (Luke Kennard, Grayson Allen, Jayson Tatum), and highly touted frosh Harry Giles began to look comfortable in the offense.
For the Gamecocks program this win was a statement Frank Martin’s team announced they’re for real. This is no knock on them but Duke ultimately lost a game they weren’t supposed to. From the tip the Blue Devils were sloppy with the basketball and a step slow on defense, but still somehow they took a seven point lead into halftime. In the end USC finally started hitting the open looks they were allowed and never let up on defense. Duke will shift into offseason mode now and wait patiently to see who stays or declares on this loaded roster.
Now it’s all on UNC to put on for the ACC. Roy and the boys are on to the Sweet 16 after a win over Arkansas. Next up the Heels have Butler, another tough block in the road but still a game the Heels should claim the ‘W’.
If the Heels are able to get back to get back in the big game again and finish the job this time they will help the ACC save face from the already endless slander from the media and internet trolls.