Selection Sunday Unkind to ACC Elite

Posted by mpatton on March 19th, 2013

After clinching the ACC Tournament title with three straight double-digit wins, Miami was riding high. The media present in Greensboro — including myself — were riding a similar high after watching one of the best offensive basketball games of the year. It felt like a slap in the face to watch as the seeds were announced and the Hurricanes weren’t rewarded for their efforts with a #1 seed. It was the first time in history that the consensus ACC champion failed to earn a spot on top of a region.

Miami's Eye Test couldn't overcome its losses Selection Sunday. (Photo: Robert Mayer / USA TODAY Sports)

Miami’s Eye Test couldn’t overcome its losses Selection Sunday. (Photo: Robert Mayer / USA TODAY Sports)

In Miami’s case, admittedly, a #1 seed was an uphill battle thanks to several bad losses in the non-conference and down the stretch in ACC play. First there was Miami’s game (without suspended Durand Scott) at Florida Gulf Coast. The Eagles are dancing this week, but only because of the Atlantic Sun’s automatic bid. Then Miami lost neutral-site games to Arizona and Indiana State when the team was very banged up. After the win Sunday, Jim Larranaga documented the injuries plaguing his team in Hawaii: “Trey McKinney-Jones was in the hospital with a 105-degree temperature, Durand Scott‘s back tightened up on the trip — he couldn’t bend over, Shane Larkin tweaked his ankle, and Reggie Johnson broke his thumb.”

But the real losses that killed Miami’s chances at a top seed came down the stretch run at Wake Forest and to Georgia Tech. Instead of winning the ACC regular season handily as they should have, the Hurricanes sputtered to a rough finish. What killed Miami is simple: the Hurricanes were coasting. And while the Selection Committee shouldn’t reward such a thing, Miami’s dominant ACC Tournament run should have been enough to sway it that the Hurricanes were second to none in the ACC. The recency of Miami’s skid shouldn’t make it more important than Kansas’ three-game slide (that included a loss at TCU, a team far worse than Wake Forest or Georgia Tech). Miami passed the eye test with flying colors in Greensboro, which says that the committee had them pegged as a #2 or even a #3 seed before it started.

Ironically Duke‘s overall resume was much more deserving of a spot on the top line. However, Miami’s peerless play in the ACC Tournament made it nearly impossible to slot the Blue Devils ahead of the Hurricanes. Thus despite owning the best non-conference schedule of any team in the country (along with the top RPI and strength of schedule ranking), Duke fell to the sixth overall slot on Selection Sunday. That’s not really consistent with what the committee has done in the past, but the beauty of March is that both teams will get a chance this week and next to make their cases for a #1 seed on the court.

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