The Atlantic Coast Conference's coaches today went on the offensive against the members of the NCAA men's basketball tournament committee for selecting just three ACC teams for the 64-team tournament last spring.

At their meeting prior to the conference's media day, the coaches discussed ways to ensure that more than three ACC teams are invited to the tournament.

Prior to last season, the ACC received at least four bids to 19 consecutive NCAA tournaments and had received fewer than five bids only once in the previous 15 seasons.

"We should always have at least five teams because we are that good," Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "We're a great league. Last year was criminal that the ACC only had three teams. Ridiculous."

Some coaches suggested the problem was that the conference was too top-heavy last season, with Duke, Maryland and North Carolina beating up on the rest of the conference.

Krzyzewski and Virginia Coach Pete Gillen mentioned that the Big Ten Conference (which had seven teams in the NCAA tournament last season) did a better job advocating its evenness as parity, instead of mediocrity.

"We have to market ourselves a little harder," Maryland Coach Gary Williams said.

Said Gillen: "The Big Ten gets seven teams and we get three? We need to find out who their spin doctors are."

Terrapins Picked Fourth

Maryland was picked to finish fourth in the conference this season in voting by members of the media attending today's event. North Carolina was a solid pick to win its third regular season title in four years, with 74 of 90 first-place votes.

Duke, last season's regular season champion, received the other 16 first-place votes and finished second, and Wake Forest was third. After Maryland were North Carolina State, Georgia Tech, Virginia, Florida State and Clemson.

Although he did not take part in the poll, Williams agreed North Carolina is the preseason favorite.

"I would pick Carolina based on their experience," Williams said. "A lot of it has to do with [senior point guard Ed] Cota. . . . Any time you have a senior point guard [who can play] at the NBA level, it gives you a tremendous advantage." . . .

The conference's preseason player of the year, expected to be Maryland junior forward Terence Morris, will be announced on Monday.

Cavaliers to Go Deep

One week into practice, Gillen said his only certain starters are point guard Donald Hand and returning ACC rookie of the year Chris Williams. Gillen said he expects to use at least a 10-player rotation, likely including four freshmen and junior college transfer Stephane Dondon.

After opening with home games against Elon and Virginia Military Institute, the Cavaliers will travel to San Juan for the Puerto Rico Shootout, beginning against South Carolina on Nov. 25. The Shootout's field includes Michigan State, DePaul and Texas.

Virginia will play Minnesota in Minneapolis on Nov. 30, in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, and will travel to St. John's on Dec. 4.

ACC PRESEASON POLL

The 1999-2000 ACC preseason men's basketball poll (first-place votes in parentheses):

Team Pts

1. North Carolina (74)792

2. Duke (16) 712

3. Wake Forest 577

4. Maryland 481

5. N.C. State 442

6. Georgia Tech 396

7. Virginia 351

8. Florida State 179

9. Clemson 113