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A combined 17 men’s, women’s teams forge ahead in basketball postseason play
GREENSBORO, N.C. (theACC.com) – Atlantic Coast Conference basketball has long been synonymous with March Madness. Those tuning in this week for the start of men’s and women’s NCAA play will again see league teams in action – a lot.
An ACC-record eight teams from the conference were chosen for the 2014 NCAA Women’s Division I Championship this part Monday night. That combined with the six bids on the men’s side to give the ACC 14 basketball teams vying for NCAA titles.
That total leads all conferences, but comes as little surprise to those who followed ACC basketball on both fronts throughout the season. The first year of expansion served the 15-team league well, as both Syracuse and Pitt were selected to the men’s field, unbeaten Notre Dame earned a No. 1 seed in the women’s tournament, and the Syracuse women earned a spot as well.
Louisville will join the league on July 1, 2014, bringing with it a proud tradition that includes three national men’s titles (heading into this postseason), and a women’s program that has also developed into one of the nation’s elite.
“Basketball in this league, it's exciting,” said NC State men’s coach Mark Gottfried, whose team opened NCAA play with a 74-59 win over Xavier in Tuesday night’s First Four matchup in Dayton, Ohio. “And you bring in some teams like that that have made a commitment at their schools to be good, they want to be in the tournament. They want to be in the Final Fours. They want to win national championships. You're bringing that kind of a group into an already great league, it does a lot.”
The six-team ACC men’s contingent will be trying to improve on some already stout historical numbers. Consider:
NC State’s NCAA tournament-opening victory on Tuesday night, coupled with wins by Florida State and Clemson in the first round of the NIT, rocketed ACC’s men’s teams to a 3-0 start in postseason play. While championships remain the ultimate goal, the men’s basketball season has already been a successful one by several measures:
ACC women’s basketball can hold its own in terms of current accomplishments and tradition. A few quick facts:
Although ACC teams have grown used to playing basketball well into March and early April, the NCAA Tournament remains something no one takes for granted.
“There was a lot of relief and excitement when we saw our name in the Field of 64," Florida State women’s coach Sue Semrau said. "I think looking at our whole body of work, it was certainly warranted for us to be making another NCAA appearance. And I think it speaks volumes for the ACC to get eight teams in and shows how good this conference is.”