The Atlantic Coast Conference was viewed as the best conference in the country this season. The 15-team power conference combined the old guard of ACC teams on Tobacco Road with other big programs (Louisville, Syracuse, Notre Dame) and had nine of 15 teams selected (and a 10th, Syracuse, viewed as a potential candidate). Six of them were seeded as a 5 seed or better heading into the week.
One of them–national title favorite and #1 seed North Carolina–is still alive.
Let’s recap just how bad the weekend was for the ACC:
- #2 Duke was coming off an ACC Tournament victory and was riding high, listed as a top three favorite to win the title. They gave up 65 points in the second half to South Carolina;
- #2 Louisville lost to Michigan in Indianapolis. This was a close game and qualifies as a very good performance compared to the rest of the conference this weekend;
- #3 Florida State was in tough game with Florida Gulf Coast and finally separated at the end, and then got crushed by #11 Xavier by 25;
- #5 Virginia trailed UNC-Wilmington before surviving, then got embarrassed against Florida, losing by 26 and scoring 39 points all game;
- #5 Notre Dame survived in a 2-point game against Princeton, then lost to West Virginia by 12 and trailed all game;
- #8 Miami jumped out to a 10-point lead on Michigan State, then got eviscerated, losing by 20 (and it wasn’t that close most of the 2nd half).
- #9 Virginia Tech lost to Wisconsin by 10 points;
- #11 Wake Forest lost in Dayton to Kansas State.
There were 10 games decided by 20 points or more. Four of those involved the #16 seeds getting outclassed. Three of them involved ACC teams being on the wrong end of the beatdown.
The ACC went 7-8 in the opening week of action, but given how they were seeded and the expectations, it was worse than that. The conference teams went 2-13 against the spread, with the only two covers being North Carolina over #16 Texas Southern, and #2 Duke over #15 Troy (in a game where the cover was in doubt late). The average result was 8.3 points worse than the expected point spread for ACC teams.
Individual teams lose, not conferences, but it’s hard to look at the results and see many positives for the ACC membership. The eight losses were by an average of 13.9 points, with only Louisville being a close loss, so it’s not like the teams had bad luck at the very end. For perspective on that margin, the 13 seeds lost by an average of 10.8 points, the 14 seeds by an average of 14.3 points.
The chalk mostly held in the first week, with 12 of the 16 highest seeded teams advancing. The only ones that did not were Villanova, and three ACC teams. Every other power conference has at least two teams still alive. A year after having six teams in the final 16, North Carolina stands alone following a disastrous week for the ACC.