Re Betty Cuniberti's article (3/14/79) on the demise of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) aura:
If ACC enthusiasts insist only that "it is the balance, excitement and pressure within the league that is nonpareil," they are probably correct. If they extrapolate this to argue that the ACC is a league of more skilled teams, they are wrong.
Dean Smith's comments in the article are biased and miss the point. First, the question is not whether North Carolina and Duke were rated Nos. 3 and 5, but whether they were rightfully so rated. Their respective beatings in the NCAA seem to say they were overrated. The three NIT losses by other ACC teams early in the NIT only emphasize the position against the ACC.
What Dean Smith believes -- that Acc/ teams would win seven or eight of 10 games against the tournament opponents that beat them -- begs the question. The consistently good Acc/ record against nonconference teams in regular-season play substantiates Smith's belief. But tournament play -- when the real chips are on the line -- evidences the frailty of his position.
Smith says the Acc/ has won as many NCAA championships -- one -- as any other league save the Pac-10 (then Pac-8) in the last 15 years. Let's look at the real states. The truth is that the ACC has won only three times in the last 50 years. Just check the other leagues, like the Southeastern and the Big Ten. Remember that California won from the Pac-10 too, not just UCLA.
The ACC teams think too much of their own tournament, and their style of play -- devoid of contact and emphasizing zone defenses and slowdown -- ill-equips them for rough, aggressive styles of teams from, say, the Big Ten, the Midwest independents, or the West Coast. Watch national basketball and any fan will see "jugular" basketball. When a team gets five points ahead, it uses its momentum to try for a 15-point win, vis a vis ACC teams that get a small lead and proceed to slow down the game and/or go into a "four-corner offense."
The Acc/ is composed of usually strong, wellbalanced teams that are well-coached and competitive; but its vainglorious attitude and its emotional (but unaggressive, and often boring slowdown) play obviously is not suitable for class, national competition.