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McFarling: ACC gets poor reception on NCAA tournament selection day
Miami's Durand Scott celebrates after The Hurricanes beat North Carolina, 87-77, to win the championship of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament in Greensboro, N.C., Sunday.
Sunday, March 17, 2013
Maybe serving on the NCAA selection committee is like coaching your own kid in high school. You can't bat him third in the lineup even if he's the best run producer you've got. You can't start him at quarterback as a freshman even if it's obvious he's the next Tom Brady and the rest of the candidates would be lucky to become the next Tommy Tutone.
That has to be it, right? How else to explain the shoddy treatment of the ACC on Sunday by a 10-member committee that has two members with ACC ties? Ron Wellman, the Wake Forest athletic director, is the longest-tenured AD in the conference. The committee chair, Mike Bobinski, will take over as Georgia Tech's AD on April 1.
Both might have some explaining to do at the next retreat with their league peers. Rationalizing to Virginia and Maryland why they didn't make the field is one thing - both teams had their flaws and knew it - but those weren't the only ACC schools wishing they had a stronger advocate in that room.
What about Miami? Win the regular-season title, win the conference tournament and get stuck with a No. 2 seed in Indiana's bracket. The Hurricanes have a legitimate beef that they have a stronger resume than, say, Gonzaga, which garnered the No. 1 seed in the West.
Duke, meanwhile, probably won't argue with a No. 2 seed, but the Blue Devils could protest being wedged into the Region o' Death (more on that later) after faring so well against one of the nation's toughest schedules.
Then we have North Carolina, which advanced to the ACC tournament final and won seven of its last nine games - most in convincing fashion. The Tar Heels' reward? A No. 8 seed in the South and a potential second round matchup with top-seeded Kansas.
Did we mention that's in Kansas City? Surely coach Roy Williams will feel most welcome.
N.C. State also got a No. 8 seed, meaning a matchup with Indiana looms should the Wolfpack get by Temple.
Look, everybody outside of Middle Tennessee probably can find something they don't love about their seeding or matchups. But when 20 percent of the committee has ties to your league, you might anticipate a little better fate.
Oh, well. For Miami, Duke, UNC and N.C. State, there's really only solution: Step up to the plate from the No. 9 hole your dad/coach put you in - and swing with everything you've got.
Quick thoughts on Selection Sunday:
TOUGHEST REGION TO NAVIGATE: The Midwest. It was the first region they unveiled Sunday night, and it was a doozy, headlined by No. 1 overall seed Louisville. No. 2 Duke is a title contender with Ryan Kelly, and No. 3 Michigan State has the defense and pedigree to make a run. Marcus Smart of No. 5 seed Oklahoma State is one of the top NBA prospects in the tournament. Good luck getting out of this one.
EASIEST REGION: The West. No. 1 Gonzaga and No. 3 New Mexico both breezed through their respective conferences, which could make things difficult for them once they
get in tight games. If you're Arizona (No. 6), Pittsburgh (No. 8), Wichita State (No. 9) or Belmont (No. 11), you've got to feel good about your chances at the Sweet 16 if you win your opener.
TEAM MOST IN NEED OF A PLAY-IN GAME: The CBS selection show crew. How many times did Greg Gumbel get interrupted Sunday night when he was trying to unveil another portion of the bracket? Seth Davis, Doug Gottlieb and Greg Anthony were a little too eager to get their analysis in immediately; there's plenty of time for that over the next three days. Aren't the identities of the matchups themselves why we're all tuning in?
FIRST ROUND UPSETS: No. 13 New Mexico State over No. 4 Saint Louis, No. 13 Montana over No. 4 Syracuse, No. 11 Minnesota over No. 6 UCLA.
FINAL FOUR: Louisville, Ohio State, Georgetown, Miami.
CHAMPION: Miami. A veteran squad with a manageable path to the title game, the Hurricanes will render the questionable seeding moot by cutting down the nets. Unless they don't. Which is what makes the next few weeks one of the highlights of the sports calendar.
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