NCAA tournament: SEC (Georgia) has passed ACC (Tech)

Georgia has punctuated the SEC's rise in basketball by making the tournament.

Georgia has punctuated SEC's rise in basketball by making tournament. (Jason Getz/AJC)

Georgia obviously is ahead of Georgia Tech in basketball right now.

But has the SEC also moved past the ACC?

When the NCAA tournament field was announced Sunday night, the SEC had more teams (five) in the bracket than the ACC (four — and that includes Clemson, which must play a preliminary round game against Alabama-Birmingham Tuesday).

The ACC has two of the top six teams in the country, Duke and North Carolina, according to RPI. But the conference was obviously down this season. The SEC is on the rise, led by the improvement at Georgia under coach Mark Fox.

This isn’t a debate about “tradition” but rather where things are at right now. After Kentucky beat Florida Sunday, and before the tournament field was announced, coach John Calipari said: “I hope, I really hope, that Georgia’s in. I really hope that Alabama’s in. I really do. This league is better than everybody wants to give it credit for. The coaching and the players are outstanding. And there were talking heads today — I usually don’t listen to Digger Phelps because he’s usually wrong — but he said that when those teams get in the tournament, they win games. And I’m telling you, we lost to both of those teams [Georgia and Alabama]. They will win games.”

(Postscript: Alabama didn’t get in, despite being Georgia in the final regular season game and in the conference tournament.)

Here are the two conference’s tournament teams, including RPI.

♦ ACC:  Duke (5), North Carolina (6), Florida State (46), Clemson (57)

♦ SEC: Florida (10), Kentucky (12), Vanderbilt (26), Tennessee (36), Georgia (39).

Seems kind of obvious which conference is better right now, doesn’t it?

By Jeff Schultz

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC; friend me at Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

241 comments Add your comment

Paul H

March 14th, 2011
9:46 am

redeye

March 14th, 2011
9:46 am

Not the FIRST time.

Paul H

March 14th, 2011
9:46 am

redeye

March 14th, 2011
9:47 am

Just my luck.

john

March 14th, 2011
9:48 am

Despite being Georgia?

Well

March 14th, 2011
10:02 am

It’s a bit like halley’s comet. It happens about once every 75 years. So take a picture, it won’t last.

lucky21

March 14th, 2011
10:06 am

But still since 2000 the ACC has 5 national championships in basketball, so I would still give the nod to the ACC over the SEC

RambleOn84

March 14th, 2011
10:06 am

Umm…no.

Tech has certainly not helped the ACC’s cause, but the ACC is still the better conference.

Were people saying the ACC was better than the SEC in football in 2008 when the ACC sent 10 teams to bowl games? No, of course not, because an SEC team won the National Championship.

And this year, when Duke or UNC wins the NCAA, everyone will again be reminded that the ACC, even when down, is the elite basketball conference.

SEC wins football championships, ACC wins basketball championships.

Mark it down Dude.

Al

March 14th, 2011
10:07 am

So using your logic when the ACC sent more teams (9) to bowls (2009) when the SEC couldn’t fill their slots the ACC is a better football conference?????? You mailed this one in Schultz.

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

March 14th, 2011
10:07 am

Glad the dogs are in and hope they can get a win , but i just finished my bracket and I have Belmont winning it all !

Beast from the East

March 14th, 2011
10:08 am

Let me be up front here…..I’m an SEC homer. That being said, the SEC is better overall this year in hoops. That is just this year, though. Even being a homer, I have to admit that the ACC is normally one of the top 2 conferences in the nation in hoops. Down year for them. Is it a trend? We won’t know until next season.

Beast from the East

March 14th, 2011
10:08 am

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN,
Belmont? Care to place a wager? LOL!

robodawg

March 14th, 2011
10:09 am

If the ACC didn’t have Duke, the SEC would be the better conference. Even so, the SEC East is pretty grueling — tough games just kept coming week after week. If they weren’t playing Duke or UNC, FSU and Clemson didn’t have to worry too much.

theTruth

March 14th, 2011
10:10 am

The ACC has been slipping in the past few years, just not this year. They will always have Duke/UNC and then not much else.

As for Bama, two games does not a season make. Play SOMEBODY in your OOC and then don’t go 8-6 in your OOC.

GT has a chance to get a good coach from a mid major but like Forrest Gump said, you never know what you are going to get. Hewitt was a victim of his own recruiting success, he would still be the coach had those guys not left for the NBA.

Did GT beat UGA in any sport this year? Let the hating commence.

JSS

March 14th, 2011
10:10 am

@ Jeff Schultz…
Will this be true when Blubber (Price). and possibly Thompkins, and Leslie leave?

Oh yeah, interesting interchange with Barnes…

ATLman86

March 14th, 2011
10:11 am

SEC may have more in, but I bet that the ACC has more teams in the Sweet 16 than SEC. And you can mark that down.

Beast from the East

March 14th, 2011
10:12 am

Rambleon84,
Bowl invitations are not an accurate gauge. How did they fare in those bowls? BCS bowls and bowls won should be the yardstick for a conference…..not invites. Invites are based on tie-ins and projected revenue for the most part.

RambleOn84

March 14th, 2011
10:13 am

The problem with the ACC is that: Hewitt wouldn’t go away, NC State ran off Sendek and replaced him with a mannequin, Skip Prosser tragically died, and Maryland, who is always solid, just had an off-year.

But Tech should bring in a good coach and is remaining plenty of talent. Maryland will rebound next year. Who knows about Wake or NC State? VPI always seems on the cusp of decency, but maybe they’ll finally spill over.

RambleOn84

March 14th, 2011
10:16 am

Beast,
Bowl invitations are absolutely fair comparisons to tournament invites. We can compare results AFTER the tournament if you want, but invites are comparable to invites.

I mean aren’t we being told how great the Big East is because 11 teams got invited? We have not seen results yet, have we?

theTruth

March 14th, 2011
10:16 am

ATL86, Duke and UNC are the only teams from the ACC that will make the sweet 16. Ky/Vandy will make it, maybe FLA.

Charles

March 14th, 2011
10:16 am

SEC’s absolutely better this year, though I don’t think that makes it a better conference period. Duke’s outstanding but the rest of the ACC is very watered down.

Carolina is the most overrated team in the country. Either UGA or Wash is going to give them all they want in the second round. That game will come down to the wire.

woebegong

March 14th, 2011
10:17 am

I am sure proud of the UGA team making it into the tournament and for the SEC as a whole this year. I don’t know if I would say the SEC surpassed the ACC this year, based on the number of teams in the dance. Let’s face it, when two of your teams are Duke and NC, and they make regular drives into the late stages of the dance and win it when they do a fair amount of times, It is hard to say the ACC is down too much. These two teams alone, are extremely well coached, and seem to get the players they need each year to be strong.
It is sort of like SEC football. The teams usually beat the heck out of each other in conference play, and one or two usually dominate in the standings for that year. A ACC team like, say for instance, GT might have a better record than say, Tenn. or UGA, but they probably couldn’t beat UGA or Tenn. the majority of the time.
I am sure am proud of the SEC teams this year, but in my mind at least, the ACC is still the better basketball conference of the two.

GOOOOOOOOO DAWGSSSSSSSSSSSS

JSS

March 14th, 2011
10:19 am

Gee, Alabama played somebody in their non-conference schedule. The problem was those members of the Big East were bottom dwellers Seton Hall and Providence and they stomped Bama and good! They laid that egg against St. Peters who I can tell you are better than Ole Miss, LSU, South Carolina, and that awful Auburn team…

Beast from the East

March 14th, 2011
10:22 am

Rambleon84,
I disagree on the bowl invites. The basketball invites are done using 15 different criteria that are reviewed by a selection committee. The bowl invites are based on contracts. Nowhere near the same thing. The bowls are just looking for attendance ($).

Supersize that order, mutt

March 14th, 2011
10:23 am

Other than KY and perhaps Vandy, does anybody really care? The mutts will lose their opener. No way they should be a 10 seed. DRAD will find us a coach and order will be restored.

Diablo69

March 14th, 2011
10:23 am

The number of teams a particular conference gets into the tournament is a matter of (the committee’s) opinion. Let’s count how many of each are left in the Sweet 16. That’s the true measure of conference quality.

BTW Top to bottom the ACC is better even in a down year. One would be wise to avoid the SEC and the BIG when filling out one’s bracket.

5150 UOAD

March 14th, 2011
10:24 am

Jeff after reading your article I want the Dawgs to beat the HUSKIES just so UNC can DESTROY the dawgs. TECH beat UNC and woke the Sleeping Giant that is Carolina Basketball. UGA made the Tourney good for them, but to say they have passed TECH is a stretch. UGA can’t even beat BAMA once in a week. Fox is improving UGA, but he has a long way to go. Fox has been to the dance 3 times in his 7 yr career. he mad it to the second round 2. Fox has coached 5 NCAA GAMES. Hewitt did better than that in 1 year as the coach of the Runner Up.

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

March 14th, 2011
10:24 am

Beast from the East

you pick a long shot and i will stick with belmont and which ever last the longest the loser has to praise the winners school of choice on a Shultz Blog . You in lol

theTruth

March 14th, 2011
10:27 am

5150, what did Hewitt do in his other years? Heck, he only had ONE year in his entire careet at Tech where he had a winning conf record. Congrats on finding $7M to get rid of him. I think Tech could be a powerhouse in bball with the right coach.

RambleOn84

March 14th, 2011
10:27 am

Schools have to qualify for a bowl appearance the same way they have to qualify for a tourney spot. The selection process is different of course, but it’s not only about contracts like you say it is.

theTruth

March 14th, 2011
10:28 am

Beast from the East

March 14th, 2011
10:28 am

SOUTH GA DAGW FAN,
I’m in. I’ll take Oakland.

RambleOn84

March 14th, 2011
10:28 am

But enough bickering…I really am happy for UGA

woebegong

March 14th, 2011
10:29 am

It kills me but I gotta agree with you beast, LOL. It is all about the bucks. There are what now, 34 bowl games played after the regular season. This allows marginal teams to get into bowl games where, say 15 years ago, they would not have had a bowl to go to.
As much as I hate to say it, UGA and Tech. should not have been in any bowl game this year based on their records. The NCAA stipulates that you only have to win 6 games to be bowl eligable. If your team can draw a money crowd into a game, and you have 6 wins minimum, you most likely will get a bowl invite from some bowl or another.

GOOOO DAWGSSSSSSSS

Beast from the East

March 14th, 2011
10:30 am

Ramble.
We’ll just have to agree to disagree. Like I said earlier, I think the SEC was better in hoops THIS YEAR. That is certainly not the norm. Good luck in the search for a coach. The ACC needs Tech to be competitive.

Tifton

March 14th, 2011
10:30 am

Jeff come on. Are you and Bradley both so sucked into the UGA pocketbooks that you are wearing rose colored glasses?

Fox has done a very admirable job in two years at UGA and this from a Jacket fan. Clearly the UGA bball program is in a better position that Tech at this time.

But you guys are talking out both side of your mouth when comparing basketball and football. Let’s be honest the SEC for the past 6 years has been king of the mountain in football but from top to bottom was it that much ahead of the ACC or Big Ten, maybe? At the upper echleon of the league there is no debate that the SEC is the best football program.

But yet it seems to be completely overlooked that the ACC has won the past two NCAA basketball championships. Also since 1990 the ACC has won 8 championships albeit mostly UNC and Duke. Are you really telling me that you think anybody in the SEC can play with UNC or Duke?

And Bradley last night tried to convince the home base that UGA IF they beat Washington can take down UNC who finished the season on a 19-3 run and and two of those losses were to Duke. Yeah they lost to Tech but I would dare say that UNC and Duke are probably the hottest teams in the NCAA outside of maybe UCONN. So quit being such a homer to declare UGA is better than UNC. Give me stats and reasons rather than editorial statements.

So let’s quit playing to the home crowd and be honest. UGA had a year that was unexpected and Fox seems to have things headed in the right direction at UGA. But remember Hewitt took Tech to the Finals in year 4 and that was the top of the mountain. Before you start declaring him the next great thing to come to Athens how about allowing 5 years to pass before we determine how good he is. I am not saying he can’t do all these things but right now Fox is getting way too much love when he is still just 24 months into the job.

And please stop with the SEC is better than the ACC as a whole in basketball. After the 5 programs in the SEC that go in who’s next Alabama? In the ACC, Maryland and VT are both teams deserving of consideration but both of them didn’t make it. You guys are stealing money from the AJC every time you write stupid stuff like this.

RambleOn84

March 14th, 2011
10:31 am

To be honest, we should be more supportive of each others’ programs when we’re not playing each other.

There is no reason we shouldn’t both have top programs in football and basketball. We have one of the most talent-rich states in the country and only two major schools…let’s support our state and hope for the best.

I don’t think it’s realistic for UGA to beat UNC like Bradley predicted, but hey, we can dream right?

5150 UOAD

March 14th, 2011
10:31 am

THE TRUTH. Since 2000 Duke 2, Maryland, and UNC 2 all have won National Championships. Other winners Michigan St, Syracuse, UConn, Florida 2, and Kansas. So the ACC has 5 Titles and 4 other teams have the other 5 titles and you think the ACC is slipping?
I bet you think Charlie Sheen is WINNING too.

JasonGT

March 14th, 2011
10:35 am

Ready for KY to choke just like every year. I think you judge every conference by its bottom half because those teams all make the top teams what they are. Before the trolls say anything, I realize w/ the exception of Wake, GT is the bottom of the ACC and that makes my point. GT clobbered UNC, anyone think GT would lose to the bottom half of the SEC? Wouldn’t happen.
Point #2 the big east is not a real conference. They have too many teams and some of them like Notre Dame are only basketball members of the conference. The NCAA should put a cap on number of teams a conference has. Pitt and Nova lost to Tennessee who turned out to be an average team and then all they do is beat up on each other for the rest of the year and people rank them high.

Jeff Schultz

March 14th, 2011
10:37 am

Al and RambleOn84 — Do you consider the bowl “system” on the same level as the NCAA tournament in terms of the worthiness of the field?

Dog gone

March 14th, 2011
10:38 am

Umm no Jeff wrong again. ACC is better than the SEC. Sorry :) History will show it and so will the future.

Jeff Schultz

March 14th, 2011
10:39 am

JSS — Hey now, Price has come a long way. … But yes, losing Thompkins (and possibly Leslie) will be major for this team next season.

Jeff Schultz

March 14th, 2011
10:40 am

Atlman86 — Might be right about that. Certainly Duke and UNC make it to the Sweet 16. So may Florida/Kentucky.

Jeff Schultz

March 14th, 2011
10:40 am

Beast from the East — Thanks, that’s point I was getting at above.

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

March 14th, 2011
10:41 am

I will be happy is uga can beat washington ,
now i have to go and do some research on oakland .

Beast from the East

March 14th, 2011
10:41 am

Jeff,
Don’t be surprised if UT makes it, as well. If Pearl can get any type of consistent play out of them then they can play with anyone. Lots of talent up there in Knoxville.

GTBob

March 14th, 2011
10:43 am

Its kinda hard to say that the SEC is better then the ACC right now. Duke and UNC are better then all of the teams from the SEC and the bottom tier ACC teams are much better then the bottom tier SEC teams. The SEC is basically two good teams, 4 decent teams, and the rest of the conference is pretty awful. There is a reason the ACC has a higher RPI even though the SEC has 5 teams in the top 50. As for UGA and GT. Of course UGA is doing better. Most division 1 schools are doing better then GT right now. We just had one of our worst teams ever and fired our coach. Being better then us isn’t much of an accomplishment right now.

Jeff Schultz

March 14th, 2011
10:45 am

Tifton — You’re kind of all over the place but I’ll try to respond to a few points here: 1) I didn’t compare basketball and football, others did; 2) I never said Fox has achieved as much as Hewitt did when he got Tech to Final Four; 3) I’m not in anybody’s pocket (but if somebody wants to try to buy me, I’ll listen to offers); 4) Anybody, and I mean ANYBODY, in this tournament field can be beat, and that includes North Carolina.

JSS

March 14th, 2011
10:46 am

Sorry to tell you Jason, but the only Sport that Notre Dame does not participate in the Big East is Football. Every other team (men and women) are Big East championship eligible…

The genie is out the bottle on Conference size. They are going to get bigger with subdivisions, not capped… They NCAA is salivating at the thought of those revenue streams…

RambleOn84

March 14th, 2011
10:46 am

No, of course not, Jeff…but they are both indicators of the number of competitive teams within the conference are they not?

My point is just because you have a number of teams who are competitive does not mean you have a good conference. Again, the ACC in 2008 had TEN bowl-eligible teams!!! But the conference was not good because NONE of them was a real competitor on the national level.

And we are about to see shortly that out of the teams listed from the SEC and the ACC, only Duke and UNC are real national competitors.

Perhaps we should include NIT-qualifying teams if we want to make a comparison to bowl games.