ACC teams in the tournament are now 7-1, if you include Clemson’s opening-round win over UAB, which I do. That’s the best record of any conference this season. In comparison, the Big East is 9-9, the Big 12 is 4-4, the Big Ten is 7-5, the Pac-10 is 4-3, and the SEC is 4-3. Only the Mountain West’s 4-1 mark can come close to the ACC’s winning percentage.
Which all made me flash back to last week, when Gary Williams bemoaned the ACC’s four NCAA tournament berths on his ESPN 980 radio show. Liz Clarke included some of Williams’s comments in a blog item, but he spoke at far greater length about the issue, and how the Big Ten and Big East are getting so many teams into the event.
“You can’t get complacent, and I think that goes for the league, too.” Williams said. “It’s very important that the ACC understands that this is a different world. The ACC’s won five out of the last 10 national championships and has the most wins in the NCAA tournament the last 20 years of any conference, but teams copy that. They try to attack you because you’ve been on top, and you just can’t stay the same. You have to get better if you want to keep up, so it’s a lesson for everyone league-wide, and hopefully we can have some good suggestions on how to make people realize just how good our league is.
“I think you can look at a lot of areas of promotion. You have to self-promote. You can’t worry about how that looks, or whether people will say well you’re just talking about yourself or whatever, because the other leagues do it. In other words, you watch the Big Ten games, you watch the Big East games, and they’re not afraid to say how good they are. They’re not afraid to say in November that we should have 11 teams this year in the NCAA tournament and that’s what they wound up with in the Big East. And the Big Ten, for them to have seven and the ACC four, it’s not right. You look at scores, you look at everything you want to compare.
“It just seems like in the ACC, if one of the top teams loses to a lower team, it’s because the league’s not good. You see that in the other leagues, and you’ll hear well, the league is really great because that lower team can beat the higher team. It’s got to be the same for all leagues, and we’ve got to talk about that. We can’t be afraid to say it. And if it has to be the coaches that say it, that’s fine. I’ve been in the league long enough, I’ve seen enough things happen in this league where I think I know what’s going on.
Later in the show, the topic came up again.
“I look at our league and I can’t believe that Virginia Tech and Boston College both aren’t in the NCAA tournament,” Williams said. “They both deserve it, they won their way, and they’d really be good representatives in the tournament. It just seems like the ACC, if you look at four teams in the ACC, there’s no way the Big ten should have seven, but that’s the way it is, and we have to do something about it. In other words, we have to figure out as a league what’s the best way to get more teams into the tournament, and we’ll go from there.
“There’s been a lot of lobbying that’s gone on that wasn’t there before. I think as a league you have to do that also just to keep up with the Joneses. If that’s the way it’s gonna be, that’s the way it’s played now....We have to go after it a lot harder in the ACC than we probably did have to 10 years ago.”
Speaking of 10 years, I just reviewed the ACC’s tournament history over the last decade with our awesome tournament research database. The ACC is 42-33 against the other BCS conferences in those 10 years, including 12-8 against the Big Ten.
How do the other conferences fare in that span? The Big East is 50-40, for a nearly identical (though slightly lower) winning percentage. The Big 12 is 38-37. The Big Ten is 31-34. The SEC is 25-28. And the Pac-10 is 23-37.