There the Hurricanes are on the first line, which is where they should be for the NCAA tournament. They won the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season and tournament titles, but still didn’t warrant one of the four top-seeded positions for the NCAA bash?
Yeah, OK, the ACC wasn’t as powerful this season as it usually is, but neither was it a weakling.
And the last time a team doubled up on the league’s two crowns but didn’t get a No. 1 seed for the NCAAs was exactly … never.
But the ‘Canes have to settle for a second-seeded spot in the East?
“I don’t know about the other guys on the team, but I do a lot of research online seeing what people are saying about us,” star sophomore guard Shane Larkin told reporters Sunday after the 87-77 ACC tournament championship victory against North Carolina. “I just kept seeing, ‘They peaked too early. They’re not going to do anything. They’re finished.’ ”
They’re not finished, and they’re not getting their due respect.
There’s no quarrel with Louisville, Indiana or Kansas as top-seeded teams, but Gonzaga?
Louisville shared the regular-season title in the fierce Big East, and won the conference tournament. Indiana won the regular-season title in the country’s best conference (Big Ten) before washing out in the tournament. Kansas shared the regular-season title in the tough Big 12, and won the tournament.
Gonzaga swept its titles, sure, but did so in the West Coast Conference, which sent just one other team to the NCAA party … and Saint Mary’s has to survive a play-in game to get to the main draw.
And don’t tell me Gonzaga’s body of work outside its conference, while impressive, is superior to what Miami did within the ACC (a win against Duke, two wins against North Carolina State and three wins against North Carolina).
Miami, by the way, has a better RPI (Rating Percentage Index) and strength of schedule — two of the precious measuring sticks for tournament seeding — than Gonzaga.
The Hurricanes got less than what they deserved, but Florida got more than what it deserved.
The Gators, who are one of just three Southeastern Conference teams in the NCAA field, were awarded a third-seeded slot in the South despite having not a single impressive road win and carrying a glittery 0-6 record in games decided by six points or fewer.
Florida did win the SEC regular-season title and make it to the tournament championship contest, but the woeful league managed just three NCAA bids.
Gators coach Billy Donovan tried to downplay the facts Sunday in addressing the media after the 66-63 SEC tournament title-game loss to Mississippi.
“People (are) trying to create drama around a situation that’s not necessarily true,” Donovan said. “Our guys haven’t lost confidence at all.”
How that might be possible is a mystery.
An opponent with a strong post presence on offense and is capable of gunning with Florida from long range (see: Ole Miss) is big trouble for the Gators.
Interestingly, both the Hurricanes and Gators are headed to Austin for first- and, if successful, second-round assignments.
Miami opens against Pacific; Florida begins against Northwestern State.
But the Hurricanes’ potential road to the Final Four looks more difficult than the Gators’, if seeds hold.
A few other bracket observations:
• It wouldn’t surprise me even a little bit if more second-seeded than first-seeded teams make it to the Final Four.
• It would surprise me significantly if a team seeded worse than fourth doesn’t make it to Atlanta.
• Put me down for at least two first-round wins by teams seeded 12th or worse.
• If you absolutely need a prediction: Duke beats Indiana for the title.
It was at turns clunky and hard to watch, but it was entirely sweet.Georgia Tech played perhaps its most memorable game in the young history of McCamish Pavilion, rallying from 12 points down with less than seven minutes to go and four down with just over a minute left to claim a 67-64 win over Illinois on Tuesday night.