Q&A: ACCMBB Has Record Six Teams in the NCAA Sweet 16 ... “We’ve Just Finished The Third Inning”

Paul Brazeau, the ACC Senior Commissioner of Men’s Basketball, is pleased with the conference’s 2016 NCAA Tournament accomplishments to date. But in a brief Q&A with theACC.com, Brazeau stressed that the games over the next two weekends carry bigger implications.

Q. Does placing six teams among the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament defy even the most optimistic of expectations?
A. I think it speaks to the depth and the quality of our teams. However, it is not the prize. It is a a great accomplishment, but the ultimate prize at the end of the day is getting teams to the Final Four and ultimately the National Championship.

Q. In other words, step back for a second, and think ‘big picture?’
A. As great as it is, we’ve just finished the third inning. And there’s still a lot of good starting pitching out there that we’re going to face between now and the Monday night (NCAA Championship Game) in Houston. 

Q. Going into last Sunday, it had already been a good tournament for the ACC with four teams reaching the Sweet 16. Then Notre Dame wins on the tip-in and Syracuse starts leading by a pretty good margin in the second half … did it kind of sink in for you then what was about to happen?
A. The fact that six teams have made it from one conference is factual, and it speaks for itself. We were fortunate that our teams played well. In a one-and-done situation anything can happen, and we’re happy that our teams came out on the plus side more times than not. It’s a nice thing – albeit, again, a lot of tournament games left to be played.

Q. Have you heard from many friends and colleagues from other conference the past few days?
A. I’ve heard some of the chatter, but it isn’t a matter of everyone calling us up and sending us bouquets of kudos because of what I said earlier – this was just the first weekend of the tournament.

Q. The ACC’s six teams have gotten a lot of notice, but there are other conferences with multiple schools …
A. Right. The Big Ten has three, the Big 12 has three. They both have great shots at getting teams to the Final Four. The conferences with one team left can get to the Final Four and be national champions. It’s not a weighted lottery of probability where, because we have six ping-pong balls in the hopper, that it gives us any better chance.

Q. So is it fair to say you’re enjoying this, but you are keeping a sense of perspective?
A. It is exciting that we have this many teams still alive. But we want to get that Holy Grail. We want our teams to reach the Final Four and one of those teams to win the national championship. But I can look at the other 10 teams that are in the Sweet 16, and I can certainly recognize that there are some great teams and some great programs that are still playing.