Josh Pastner calls for ‘10 or 11’ ACC teams in NCAA tournament

February 6, 202, 2021 Atlanta - Georgia Tech's head coach Josh Pastner reacts in the second half of a NCAA college basketball game at Georgia Tech's McCamish Pavilion in Atlanta on Saturday, February 6, 2021. Georgia Tech won 82-80 over Notre Dame. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)
February 6, 202, 2021 Atlanta - Georgia Tech's head coach Josh Pastner reacts in the second half of a NCAA college basketball game at Georgia Tech's McCamish Pavilion in Atlanta on Saturday, February 6, 2021. Georgia Tech won 82-80 over Notre Dame. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

As is his wont, Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner went all in in his support of NCAA tournament bids for ACC teams.

Asked Monday about the importance of the Yellow Jackets’ Tuesday night game at No. 16 Virginia Tech, Pastner used the opportunity to step up on his platform.

“I don’t understand why there’s not 10 or 11 (ACC) teams being talked about to be in the NCAA tournament right now,” said Pastner, speaking on the ACC coaches videoconference. “I don’t understand why everyone’s talking about the Big Ten or the Big 12. What about the ACC?”

Ten or 11 teams would be historic. The most teams that the ACC has ever sent to the tournament is nine, which it has done twice. There isn’t exactly a preponderance of evidence to support Pastner’s undying claim that the ACC is the best conference in the country. The Big Ten won the ACC/Big Ten Challenge this season, 7-5. In conference RPI, the ACC ranks fourth behind the Big 12, Big Ten and SEC, according to teamrankings.com.

Standard-bearer Virginia lost non-conference games to Gonzaga (by 23 points) and San Francisco. First-place Florida State did beat Florida, but also lost at home to Central Florida. Traditional powerhouses Duke and North Carolina are below their lofty standards.

The latest tournament projection by the website Bracketville included six ACC teams — Florida State, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Clemson, North Carolina and Louisville — with no conference representatives listed among the eight bubble teams.

The Big Ten had the most teams with 10, followed by the Big 12 with seven. The SEC was tied with the ACC with six.

“There should be 10 to 11 teams in this league in the NCAA (tournament), every single year,” Pastner said. “I just hope the committee recognizes how great this league is. It’s the best basketball league in all of America, for college.”

It was typical Pastner exuberance. In his 10 minutes on the weekly ACC coaches videoconference, he also touted Virginia Tech coach Mike Young for national coach of the year and also for the court at his former employer, Wofford, to bear his name.

He predicted that, in the next five years, there will be three to four coaches in the league who will be inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. (Based on his glowing comments from past media sessions, he may have been thinking of Virginia’s Tony Bennett, Notre Dame’s Mike Brey and Florida State’s Leonard Hamilton, who would join North Carolina’s Roy Williams, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski and Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim. He later repeated his belief that Krzyzewski might be the greatest coach in the history of sports.)

He also gave a tip of the cap to ACC senior associate commissioner Paul Brazeau and assistant commissioners Lee Butler and Andy Fledderjohann for their work in managing the constantly shifting conference schedule this year.

“I love Paul Brazeau,” Pastner said. “I love him. He’s done an incredible job. I don’t think Paul’s gotten enough credit on the job that he’s done to try to manage all these cancellations, to try to fit everything in, to have to move things around.”

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