If there was a way to snub the ACC, the NCAA committee found it. Miami isn’t happy. Duke isn’t happy. North Carolina isn’t happy. And all for good reason.
The selection committee chairman, Xavier athletic director Mike Bobinski, is headed to Georgia Tech on April 1. He may get an icy reception from his new peers, because he didn’t make any friends in his news conference Sunday.
Miami made history, and not in a good way: The Hurricanes became the first regular-season and tournament ACC champion not to get a No. 1 seed. Not only that, they were slapped into a region featuring Indiana, probably the best and most consistent team in the country over the course of the season.
The team that snuck past them? Gonzaga, which has beaten only one NCAA tournament team – St. Mary’s, in the First Four – since December. Miami beat two in the past two days.
"Miami had a tremendous year they’re a great basketball team and the reality is we only had four spots on the 1 line," Bobinski said. “If we had five, I tell you, Miami would be there with us. No disrespect whatsoever. We had a great appreciation for the year Miami had. In the final analysis, we put Gonzaga just ahead of them based on all that we’ve seen and evaluated over the course of the year.”
Duke not only fell out of a No. 1 seed but out of its preferred regional site of Washington, D.C., and got stuck in a regional with at least three, if not more, other Final Four candidates – Louisville, Michigan State and St. Louis, just to start. That’s a heavy price to pay for a quarterfinal loss to Maryland.
North Carolina was handed not only a surprisingly low No. 8 seed, but set up on a collision course with Kansas – again! again! – in Kansas City, of all places. The Tar Heels appeared to have the resume of a No. 7 seed, but there will be less concern about the seeding than Roy Williams’ comfort level.
It’s hard to argue too much with N.C. State as a No. 8, or Virginia being left out, but the committee certainly didn’t do either any favors.
Maybe you can explain away some of that with the technicalities of seeding, scheduling and bracketing, but not all of it. The message was clear: Whatever the ACC did this season, it wasn’t good enough for the committee.
The Hurricanes, who have been playing the no-respect card all season, probably won’t mind this too much. They start in Austin, Texas, and would move on to Washington, which given the odd geographics of the tournament sites this year, is about as soft as the travel could get for them.
The Hurricanes stole the slot in Washington that Duke appeared to have nailed down long ago with its 18-1 record with Ryan Kelly in the lineup and wins over Louisville, Ohio State and Miami. The NCAA has often been accused of giving Duke preferential treatment, but the Blue Devils have a legitimate grievance this time around.
So do the Tar Heels. Another potential North Carolina-Kansas matchup may make for great television, but it’s not fair to either team given the history involved – especially the Tar Heels, who would have to play them in Missouri for the second straight year.
It made for a colossal gap in emotions between the conclusion of a dramatic, compelling ACC championship game and the deflation following the unveiling of the brackets a few hours later. What was shaping up to be such a great Sunday for the conference went out the window. A difficult path lies ahead for the ACC.