Lucky 9-7? How the Pack compares to recent ACC bubble teams

Staff writerMarch 5, 2012 

The last time N.C. State won nine ACC games and didn't make the NCAA tournament was 1966. Press Maravich's second, and final team, went 9-5 in conference play but lost in the ACC tournament final to Duke.

Back then, and until 1975, only the conference champion made the NCAA tournament. Since 1966, the ACC has lost a team, and added five more (with two more on the way) and the NCAA tournament has expanded from 22 teams to 68.

Still, a nine-win ACC season has been good to the Wolfpack. It went to the tournament in 1970 (9-5), 1980 (9-5), 1985 (9-5), 2002 (9-7) and 2003 (9-7).

First-year Wolfpack coach Mark Gottfried lobbied for his team's inclusion in the NCAA tournament, after Sunday's 70-58 win at Virginia Tech gave the Wolfpack a 9-7 ACC record.

Gottfried, who has a firm grasp of the selection process from both his time at Alabama and the past two years at ESPN, cited the strength of the ACC as one of the reasons State should be in the tournament. He said six ACC teams belong in the tournament.

"We've got a 9-7 record in this league, which I think is a much better league than people around the country give it credit for," Gottfried said.

Before the ACC went to 12 teams, and ended the round-robin format in the mid-2000s, a 9-7 conference record was basically an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament (Historical note: Virginia, 9-7 in 2000, was the only team with a winning ACC record, out of 86, left out of the tournament field between 1980 and 2004).

Since expansion in the mid-2000s, nine ACC teams have finished 9-7 but only five made the tournament.

Gottfreid, as he has all season, cited his team's strength of schedule outside the ACC, which ranks 23rd nationally according to CollegeRPI.com. The Wolfpack played three teams in the top 25 of the RPI outside the league and seven in the top 100.

"We've done what the committee asks you to do," Gottfried said of the schedule. "We did it."

Except State lost its marquee games outside the league (to Syracuse, Indiana and Vanderbilt) and is 0-8 against teams that are currently in the top 50 of the RPI. State does have a 5-1 mark against teams ranked Nos. 51 through 100.

All the 9-7 ACC teams since expansion that have made the NCAA tournament have had at least three wins against the top 50, except for Clemson last year (The Tigers presumably got in because of a 9-8 record vs. the top 100).

N.C. State has wins over Texas (51) and two over Miami (56), two teams who could move into the top 50 by Selection Sunday, and a date with Virginia (40) looming in the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament.

Here's how N.C. State's resume compares to the other 9-7 ACC teams since expansion:

YearTeamNCAAACCAllRPISoST50
2012N.C. State???9-720-1157290
2012Virginia???9-722-840812
2012Miami???9-718-1156402
2011ClemsonIN9-721-1157620
2010WakeIN9-719-1039306
2010ClemsonIN9-721-1034245
2009ClemsonIN9-723-828423
2009BCIN9-722-1160594
2011Virginia TechOUT9-720-1162772
2011BCOUT9-720-1258381
2008Virginia TechOUT9-719-1352391
2006FSUOUT9-719-963942

Note: SoS is strength of schedule for all games, T50 is wins vs. the Top 50 of the RPI

All RPI numbers are from Jerry Palm of CollegeRPI.com

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