After a long weekend of NCAA Tournament games, it seems that March Madness has become March Maddening for the ACC. With six teams garnering invites to take a turn in the Big Dance, only the Virginia Cavaliers remain in the Sweet 16.
It’s really only fitting that the ACC regular season and tournament champions (and #1 seed in the East region) would be the last hope for the conference heading into the final rounds of the tournament.
The first ACC team to go down was #12 seed N.C. State, who got taken out in the round of 64 by #5 seed St. Louis, 83-80. The Wolfpack had a lot of people picking them for the upset after their gritty performance in the ACC tournament, but the luck ran out early for them in the Dance.
Surprisingly, the next ACC team to bow out was the Duke Blue Devils, who were victim to an incredible 78-71 upset by the Mercer Bears. But in true Coach K fashion, rather than point fingers and shed a bad light on his program, he made a classy gesture by going into the Mercer locker room to congratulate the small Georgia college team on their win.
The third day of games saw Pittsburgh get completely manhandled in a 61-45 loss to #1 overall seed Florida. The Panthers never stood a chance from the opening tip. On that same day, the Syracuse Orange were the next upset victim, being taken out by the surprising Dayton Flyers (who are now in the Sweet 16, by the way) by the slim margin of 55-53.
Sunday was North Carolina‘s day to taste defeat, as they lost a nail-biters to Iowa State, 85-83, and were part of a minor controversy at the end of the game when some thought that Tar Heels had called a time out with less than a second left in regulation.
That leaves Virginia, who has a Sweet 16 party date with tournament-tough Michigan State on Friday, March 28. The Spartans are finally healthy and playing some excellent basketball in the tournament, so this will be the Cavs toughest test to date.
At least the Wahoos won’t be the first #1 seed to get bounced if they do lose to Sparty. That distinction belongs to Wichita State, who were taken out by the Kentucky Wildcats in the round of 32.
It’s hard to say whether it’s more impressive that the ACC had six teams make the tournament, or more embarrassing that only one of the six managed to survive the first weekend. A few of the teams had favorable draws (howdy, Duke), but just couldn’t close the deal.
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