ACC doesn’t look deserving of several NCAA slots

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Paul Hewitt hopes Tech is pointed up.

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Mark Fox sticking up for the SEC.

After losing on a last-second shot at Maryland Saturday, Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt said his team is “starting to play our best basketball at the right time of the year,” which probably would instill a lot more confidence in the masses if the Jackets weren’t in seventh place in the ACC — or least what remains of it — and threatening to become one of the most talented teams ever to miss the NCAA Tournament.

The calendar turns to March next week. Once again, “Madness” has taken on the wrong meaning in the state of Georgia.

This is one of the most talent-rich states in the land. But we’re starting to look like paupers peering through the gates at the NCAA Tournament again. The Jackets may yet get in. But at 6-7 in the ACC  — which has only one team ranked in the nation’s top 22 — and with two wins over North Carolina suddenly looking just slightly more significant than the ones over Chattanooga and Arkansas-Pine Bluff,  should anybody really feel that confident?

Do you think Georgia Tech deserves to be in the NCAA tournament, as of today?

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Seriously, how many teams should the ACC qualify? There are six teams ahead of the Jackets in the ACC with winning conference records. What has the conference done to deserve more than, say, four getting in?

According to various websites, the ACC’s collective RPI, which is an index combining winning percentage, opponents’ winning percentage, etc., ranks third nationally. That’s behind the Big 12 and Big East. The SEC is fourth. In strength-of-schedule RPI rankings, the SEC actually is ahead of the ACC.

The SEC also has three teams (Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Tennessee) to the ACC’s one (Duke) in the top 20 in RPI. Tobacco Road and Hoops dominance just don’t  intersect this season.

As Georgia coach Mark Fox said Saturday after his team rallied to defeat Alabama, “It’s not like the ACC is running away with anything this year.”

Fox would not get into a which-conference-is-better argument. But he said, “If you just look at our [SEC East] division, Florida, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Kentucky all deserve to be in it. I don’t think you can even say they’re on the bubble. In the upper half of the ACC, I don’t know if they are as strong as we are, just in our division. I’d have to really look at that.”

What you don’t want to look at is how Georgia schools rank in RPI among the nation’s 347 Division I basketball programs.  According to the most up-to-date numbers in teamrankings.com, Georgia Tech is 31st in RPI among state teams. The Yellow Jackets are followed by Georgia (94), Mercer (229), Georgia State (245), Georgia Southern (279), Kennesaw State (294) and Savannah State (316).

(Off on a tangent: We wish Bill Curry and Georgia State good luck in this new venture called football. But it’s a lot easier to build a winning program quicker in college basketball, just because of the sheer numbers in recruiting. If Georgia State suddenly is committed to athletics, here’s the question: How much time does coach Rod Barnes get? His seasons so far: 9-21, 12-20, 12-17, including 5-13, 8-10 and 5-11 in conference.)

The team rankings’ website also spits out a daily projection of the NCAA Tournament bracket. Those projections are being kind to the ACC. As of early Sunday, the site is putting  seven ACC teams into the postseason bracket, including the Jackets, and only four SEC schools in. But the projected ACC seeds are low: Tech would be in as a 12th seed in the South, according to the site, Virginia Tech and FSU as 10th seeds and Clemson as a ninth.

Georgia forward Travis Leslie, who was recruited by Tech, North Carolina and Clemson in the ACC, said, “We have a lot of good teams in this conference. But I guess we still don’t get a lot of respect or attention. Hopefully we can get some more teams into the tournament. I know it seems like the ACC is falling apart.”

112 comments Add your comment

Scott

February 21st, 2010
2:49 pm

Could it be??

Scott

February 21st, 2010
2:51 pm

It is! First!

Jeff: The ACC is the most balanced league in the country. Don’t be fooled by UNC being down: The ACC is probably 2nd behind the Big east, 3rd at worst.

Brad

February 21st, 2010
3:03 pm

Are not these the same arguments about SEC football? Yet it seems the SEC “dominates” every year with football teams going to bowl games as well as inflated Top 25 rankings.

GT GRAD

February 21st, 2010
3:06 pm

GT currently has an RPI of 31 with several losses to ACC teams on the road due to last second “buzzer beating” shots. Where would they be ranked if a few of the last second shots had not dropped??

GT deserves to be in the tourney, but they better start playing better ball right now (and put a few more victories in the win column) or they might be left out………………..the committee might use the story-line that they are not “hot” towards the end of the season nonsense.

I hope they get HOT and make this discussion go away completely!!

Greg

February 21st, 2010
3:27 pm

Yesterday was a step foward for Tech. Even though we had the typical struggle at the foul line, it was probably the most complete game since the Duke game (the win). Derrick Favors and Gani Lawal showed what they can do when they aren’t in early foul trouble. If the guards can hit the open jumpers resulting from the bigs getting double than things are starting to look up. The real question is how will these young kids respond after a heartbraker. If they play like they did against an almost impossible team to beat at home(Maryland) for the rest of the season, then they should easily be in the tournament and maybe win a game or two.

rocket

February 21st, 2010
3:39 pm

As a GT and former season ticket holder, Tech does not belong in any tournament…..their FT shooting is abyssmal and it defines the sorry way Hewitt coches street shhoters who care nothin about the fundamentals of the game… UGA I heard yesterday has the highest FT % in the SEC…. this will only serve them better in the future… Hewitt needs to resign and donate his contract back to the GTAA for 10 years of gravy money he clearly has not earned.

rocket

February 21st, 2010
3:40 pm

sorry, shooters and nothing… poor typing skills.

Big D Dawg

February 21st, 2010
3:49 pm

I’ll give the ACC and tech the benefit of doubt for now. Let’s see if and how the ACC tourney plays out. If they lose early tech may not make it in. Win a round or two and they’re in.
As far as UGA goes….. the new coach has made some noise with very little talent in house. We did beat tech and a few other ranked teams this year. In fact we MAY have beaten just as many ranked teams as tech.

rocket

February 21st, 2010
4:01 pm

by the way, according to ACC.com stats page GT is 11th in turnovers per game ahead of only FSU and dead last in FT %…. doing well in many other categories, but these two will keep you aout of any tournament.

Thrillerdome Forever

February 21st, 2010
4:16 pm

Jeff touts the SEC in football, subscribing to the belief that championships are the standard by which conferences should be judged. The ACC has won more championships this decade than any other. If you want respect in football (SEC fans), then give some courtesy to ACC hoops.

There is no such thing as a down year in the ACC.
Mark Fox is the perfect coach for the dogs — clueless.

SEC Hoops = terrible

February 21st, 2010
4:23 pm

its the midget league

UGA is SO last DECADE

February 21st, 2010
4:28 pm

End of season game loom large when the committee selects. We are doing very poorly. How many have we won of our last 6 or 7 games? 2? 3? Unless you are a good win streak or win a couple rounds in your conference tourney, you WON’T even be considered – let alone have a chance to get it. I said we were out over 3 weeks ago in Jeff’s blog (maybe now 4 weeks). I am the only visionary and realist on here. We are not going to the NCAA.

Jeff Schultz

February 21st, 2010
4:33 pm

Scott — I understand that “balance” and “parity” are common comebacks when somebody says it’s a down year. I’m willing to concede it might be both balance AND a down year. I don’t think one team in the top 20 is an aberration. Just my opinion.

Jeff Schultz

February 21st, 2010
4:35 pm

Brad — Well, if anything, I’d think the ACC would get the benefit of the doubt in hoops rankings, just as the SEC might in football rankings.

Jeff Schultz

February 21st, 2010
4:36 pm

GT Grad — Don’t know about “several” but they do have a few last-second losses. But yeah, if Tech won those games, we wouldn’t be here probably.

gatorfan46.3

February 21st, 2010
4:38 pm

The ACC is like the SEC in football. It’s a tougher conference, strength of schedule wise, so more of them deserve to be there.

JW

February 21st, 2010
4:41 pm

Jeff,

Honestly, the ACC does suck this year in basketball; however, the sports media constantly will drool over the ACC in basketball just like they do in the fall over SEC football. There are plenty of quality football teams in other conferences (including the ACC) but if you watch CBS/ESPN in the fall you wouldn’t know it. Just like now in basketball….the ACC pretty much stinks but they will still put 6 teams in the tourney. Honestly, I could care less…i live in georgia and could care less ab basketball…….football is where it’s all at, and the jackets are on the rise in that Dept.

JACKETS11

February 21st, 2010
4:57 pm

I agree JW, DRad has obviously made a point that football is his biggest priority, and tech fans should be happy because GA tech is a FOOTBALL SCHOOL! Always has been, always will be deep down. I believe Hewitt is the best we can ask for in basketball. if Radakovich really cared ab basketball, he would have dumped him by now.

gatorfan46.3

February 21st, 2010
4:58 pm

An example would be Boise St in college football 13-0 against 8-5 Georgia. Who would win? Who deserves to be ranked higher? Who plays a tigher schedule? What’s their strength of schedule ranking?

We can’t reward teams that choose to stay in weak conferences, and NOT schedule tough teams.

Asheville Dawg

February 21st, 2010
5:10 pm

Come on ACC fans, have you seen North Carolina’s Tar Heels this season? They are really bad this year. Ga Tech playing badly with lots of talent. Favors has his best game of the season and the Yellow Jackets still lose! Missed free throws always come back to haunt you.

Thrillerdome forever, obviously missed UGA-GT game. Get a clue, you lost and Mark Fox out coached your team with much less talent. Fox has done a good job for his first season, now let’s see him recruit.

Hewitt deserves to be fired, and thus far, should not be invited to the NCAA’s. Possibly the NIT awaits for the Jackets.

el rodeo

February 21st, 2010
5:12 pm

The best way to be fair is to base decisions on stats. Jeff Sagarin says the ACC is a tougher conference in basketball than the SEC.

Until that change, they deserve more spots in the tournament.

http://www.usatoday.com/sports/sagarin/bkc0910.htm

Rabun Dawg

February 21st, 2010
5:15 pm

Thrillerdome Forever, If you think that Mark Fox is clueless, then, my friend, you know absolutely nothing about basketball! He is getting more out of less than any coach in the SEC, or maybe even the ACC. Tompkins and Leslie are quality players that could play on any team, but the rest are just so so. Hate to belittle the rest, but most aren’t great talents. And to answer the question, Tech should be able to get in the Tournament, but they better win most of the rest and get some wins in the ACC tourney. One and done there, and they just might be in trouble. That being said, the ACC should get at least 6 in the NCAA’s. The SEC, probably about 4.

GT71

February 21st, 2010
5:32 pm

IF…the shortest word to the longest pain. Stop with the ‘if onlys’. Teams shouldn’t be in a position to make buzzer-beaters. With 3 big men who can really play, 2 guards who can guard, 2 guards who can shoot well more often then not, no team in the country outside of Kansas and Kentucky should be in the same gym with Tech.
Losing close is still losing. Losing to UGA is just plain embarrassing. Missing the Tourney should cost Hewitt the job – golden contract or not. And at least even a mediocre team should be able to make a free-throw now and then.
And just where is Mark Price?

NY Yankees

February 21st, 2010
5:40 pm

I thought Blewitt was going straight to the Final Four Jeff

Time Out

February 21st, 2010
5:55 pm

It would be enjoyable to see the NERDS lose in the first round.

Time Out

February 21st, 2010
5:57 pm

I’ll give it to Hewitt. Between him and Don Waddell, I’m not sure who the bigger BSer is to keep his job.

Conyers Yellow Jacket

February 21st, 2010
6:33 pm

Jeff: The ACC may not deserve more than 4 teams but they may get five or six. I do not think GT deserves to be one of the six now. They played a tough road game yesterday but still lost again and
are simply not winning games at the end of the season when they need to. Unless they win at least
21 games (including ACC tournament) I do not believe they deserve or will get a NCAA berth.

WoodstockDave

February 21st, 2010
6:56 pm

We won’t need to wait for the ACC or NCAA tourneys to see whether Tech is tournament ready. With games against Clemson and Virginia Tech coming up shortly, we’ll know whether or not Hewitt was full of it when he said his team was getting hot at just the right time.

Put up or shut up, coach.

Angus

February 21st, 2010
7:16 pm

The easiest blog in sports to write: Team X shouldn’t get in.

Two cents worth of thought says who gets in instead.

Lazy, lazy, lazy.

Steve

February 21st, 2010
7:16 pm

Fox talking about other teams in his conference that have whipped the dawgs and comparing them to another conference is dumb. He needs to focus on his team and not which conference is better. He can’t even get his team to the NIT. Really stupid on his part.

Beck

February 21st, 2010
7:18 pm

To put an end to this sec acc crap, we should just rotate teams from each conference in both football and bball. That would create one awesome super conference.

Ted Striker

February 21st, 2010
7:20 pm

Doesn’t matter what the sport or conference is — when only one team from a conference is ranked in the top 22, the conference doesn’t deserve anything on a platter.

Frank Wren

February 21st, 2010
7:22 pm

He can’t even get his team to the NIT.

To be fair this really isnt his team yet. Talk to me in three years.

Tyler

February 21st, 2010
7:23 pm

Teams gt lost to ooc. Ga is 10th worst in the sec. Dayton is the 6th best team in their conf. They don’t deserve to be in the tourney. I really wonder why there is a push by the media to put them in. Is it for PH? Is it because they want to see Favors. Also, has there ever been a player taken in the first round of the nba who never played in the ncaa tourney? I guarantee no. And Favors probably would be a top 10 pick which makes gt’s season even more of a joke.

Ted Striker

February 21st, 2010
7:23 pm

Angus @7:16 — You’re certainly entitled to your opinion but I for one liked the subject of the column. And if you’re patient and eat all your veggies over the next month or so, you’ll probably get that particular column you’re pining for in time.

Steve

February 21st, 2010
7:24 pm

He’s the coach. It’s his team. Duh.

Gordon

February 21st, 2010
7:27 pm

Maybe Tech and UGA will get to play again. UGA may be just good enough to get into the NIT and Tech may be just bad enough to get into the NIT. If that happens and Tech loses again, Paul Hewitt better have an escape plan to get out of town.

ron

February 21st, 2010
7:41 pm

that would be funny gordon if they played again and gt lost.

Timmy

February 21st, 2010
7:49 pm

Jeff, the ACC will get a minimum of 5 teams and a max of 7. People love to say “this conference only deserves X amount of bids” without actually going through the teams in every conference and finding the teams they would put in place of the teams that the other conference “shouldn’t get in”. It’s all well and good to imply that Clemson, FSU, and GT shouldn’t be in, but the bracket has to have 65 teams…so I’m assuming you have the teams in mind who should be in instead.

Also, the 7th place standing is irrelevant. Want to try to compare resumes between teams with unbalanced schedules? Coming into Sunday, Virginia Tech has played 3 ACC games against rpi top 50 teams (@FSU, Clemson, Wake), winning the 2 home games and losing the road game. GT has played 8 ACC games against rpi top 50 teams (Wake twice, Duke twice, FSU twice, @Maryland, Clemson). They have as many wins against ACC top 50 rpi teams as Virginia Tech has games played against this group. There is just no comparison. If you want to argue that GT has underachieved, then you’re preaching to the choir…but I challenge you to come up with a bracket that doesn’t have GT in it. Then attempt to legitimatize why you put the last few teams you did in over Tech.

These are good starting points: http://rivals.yahoo.com/ncaa/basketball/polls?poll=5

http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/standings
Hint: The Independents don’t get a bid.

Rob

February 21st, 2010
7:54 pm

I want Tech to make the NCAA but they prob don’t deserve to be in. Thanks again, Hewitt!

Dostoyevskiy

February 21st, 2010
7:54 pm

UNC has the worst team its had in years, and Kentucky beat them by 2 at Rupp.

messin with sasquatch

February 21st, 2010
8:00 pm

If gt gets in, maybe 1 win.

Ron

February 21st, 2010
8:00 pm

And you dorks lost to UGA, ha. Sad.

The Tar and Feathers Party

February 21st, 2010
8:05 pm

Jeff doesn’t deserve of hair.

[...] ACC doesn’t look deserving of several NCAA slots Paul Hewitt hopes Tech is pointed up. Mark Fox sticking up for the SEC. After losing on a last-second shot at Maryland Saturday, Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt said his team is “starting to play our best basketball at the right time of the year,” which probably would instill a lot more confidence in the masses if the Jackets weren’t in seventh … [...]

Denver Dog

February 21st, 2010
8:31 pm

This is kind of like in football when everyone is saying the SEC is having a down year and why do they need to have so many bowl bids. It is because they are good, and deserve it. It is the same with the ACC in basketball. They get the bids because they are good. Whether we like it or not, reputation in college sports means something. The ACC just has that basketball reputation. That is why they get those bids.

Dostoyevskiy

February 21st, 2010
8:38 pm

UGa iin the SEC is to BB what Maryland in the ACC is to FB. Good team every blue moon.

Jacketbacker

February 21st, 2010
9:24 pm

Mark Price……come home!!!!

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Biff Pocoroba

February 21st, 2010
10:12 pm

Hewitt’s contract gives him a bonus if he gets into the NIT or NCAA tournament. He also gets an additional bonus for each game he wins in either tournament. Since he knows he has a better chance of winning more games in the NIT than the NCAA, I think he may be coaching this team down on purpose to make more money. The Paul Hewitt excuse show should be interesting this Thursday. He has used “tired legs”, “tired from finals”, “tired from traveling”, and “players didn’t do what I told them to do”. I can’t wait to see what the new excuse will be.