Beyond the ACCtion: The ACC’s Big Dance Marathon


A combined 17 men’s, women’s teams forge ahead in basketball postseason play

GREENSBORO, N.C.  ( – 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:

  • With its 6-4 mark in the 2013 NCAA Tournament, the ACC extended its non-losing streak in NCAA Tournament play to 26 years in a row. The Big East is second with a streak of 21 straight seasons.
  • The ACC is the winningest conference in NCAA Tournament history. Based on yearly membership, the ACC is 370-192 (.658) all-time in NCAA tourney play.
  • Since 1981, the ACC has won more NCAA national titles (10) than any other conference. The Big East is second with seven, while the SEC is third with six championships.
  • Current league members have won 13 NCAA Championships. North Carolina leads the way with five national titles, followed by Duke (4), NC State (2), Syracuse (1) and Maryland (1).
  • Since 1985, the ACC has produced 24 Final Four teams, an average of almost one per year and four more than any other conference.
  • With ACC champion Virginia ranked third and runner-up Duke ranked eighth, this marks the 54th consecutive season that the conference has had at least one team ranked among the Top 10 in the final Associated Press poll.
  • The ACC claims the top three active coaches in terms of NCAA Tournament wins. Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski leads with 82. North Carolina’s Roy Williams is second with 62, and Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim third with 52.
  • The ACC has seen at least two teams reach the “Sweet 16” of the NCAA Tournament in 31 of the last 34 seasons.

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:

  • The six ACC men’s teams that earned a bid to the NCAA Men’s Tournament tied for the second most from any conference. A total of eight league squads are playing postseason basketball.
  • League teams entered the NCAAs and NIT following an ACC Tournament many observers ranked as one of the better ones in the event’s 61-year history. Of the 14 games in the 2014 ACC Tournament, 11 were decided by single digits and eight were decided by five points or less.
  • Seven of the top 10 most-viewed regular season college basketball games on ESPN networks this season featured at least one ACC team, including five conference matchups. The league helped ESPN set all-time viewership records with an increase of 6% over the previous record for the channel.
  • ACC teams have combined to go 139-53 against nonconference competition, a winning percentage of .724.
  • The ACC leads all conferences with 10 wins versus non-league teams ranked at game time in the USA Today/Coaches poll.
  • The ACC is tied with a national-best four ranked teams and two in the top 10 of both the AP Top 25 and the USA Today Coaches Poll.
  • The ACC has two teams in the RPI Top 10 (No. 8 Virginia, No. 9 Duke), tying for the most of any league. With two more joining in the top 25 (No. 16 Syracuse, No. 25 North Carolina), the ACC also is tied for the national best with four in the top 25.
  • Ten ACC teams finished the season ranked in the top 100 in Ken Pomeroy’s rankings, tied for the most of any conference.

ACC women’s basketball can hold its own in terms of current accomplishments and tradition.  A few quick facts:

  • The ACC’s eight bids to the women’s Big Dance are tied for the most of any league with the SEC, which also received eight.
  • This marks the 20th consecutive year that at least four ACC teams have been selected to the NCAA Championship field.
  • With Miami earning a bid to the WNIT, nine league squads are competing in the postseason.
  • Eight ACC teams have at least 20 wins, two more than any other conference.
  • Five ACC teams finished the regular season ranked in both the AP Top 25 and the USA Today Coaches Poll, both tied for the most in the nation. Three league teams (No. 2 Notre Dame, No. 9 Maryland, and No. 10 Duke) are ranked in the Top 10 of the Coaches Poll, more than any other conference.
  • The ACC posted a 155-46 record against nonconference opponents during the regular season, the second-best mark of any conference.
  • ACC champion Notre Dame is one of only 13 teams in history to enter the NCAA Tournament with an undefeated record.
  • The 2014 ACC Women’s Tournament had a total attendance of 58,697, the ninth straight year that the event has broken 55,000. The mark was the largest in the nation and was more than 20,000 larger than any other conference.

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.”