They’re using words like disappointed, fair, respect and perception describing how they feel about the ACC having just four teams in the tournament and no No. 1 seed.
Miami became the first team to win the ACC regular-season crown outright along with the tournament championship yet fail to get a No. 1 seed.
The Hurricanes ended up with a No. 2, as did Duke, which looked destined for a No. 1 before an early ACC tournament exit. North Carolina and North Carolina State ended up as No. 8 seeds, while Virginia and Maryland both fell on the wrong side of the bubble and will play in the NIT.
That all came despite the Blue Devils standing at No. 1, the Hurricanes at No. 4 and the Tar Heels at No. 17 in the RPI. And it was one reason why UNC coach Roy Williams called Sunday’s selections broadcast “a confusing show, and I’m still confused.”
“I was disappointed for our league,” Williams said Tuesday. “I didn’t think it was necessarily fair for our league. But ... it is what it is so we’ve got to go play.”
It marked the second time in three years that the ACC got just four bids and fourth time in the eight seasons since the league’s expansion to 12 teams in 2006. The league has gotten as many as seven teams twice, in 2007 and 2009.
“I think it’s a really good conference and I was just hoping it would garner a little more respect than that,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said after learning his Cavaliers would head to the NIT.
Miami (27-6) beat North Carolina in Sunday’s ACC final to pair its first regular-season crown with the first tournament title. And going back to the start of NCAA seeding in 1979, only one team — Georgia Tech in 1985 — had failed to earn a No. 1 after winning at least a share of the regular-season crown to go with the tournament title, according to STATS LLC.
But the Hurricanes ended up with a No. 2 (East Region) just like that Mark Price-led Yellow Jackets team.
Mike Bobinski, who chaired the selection committee, said Gonzaga edged out Miami for a No. 1 seed. But while senior Reggie Johnson said after the UNC win that Miami deserved a No. 1, coach Jim Larranaga and other players said they weren’t worried about it.
“It doesn’t matter to us,” senior guard Durand Scott said. “I want them to give what we deserve — nothing less and nothing more.”
Duke (27-5) looked set to earn a No. 1 after Ryan Kelly returned from a two-month absence due to a foot injury. The Blue Devils were 18-0 with Kelly and 9-4 without him before the ACC tournament but fell flat in a quarterfinal exit to Maryland. The Blue Devils ended up as a No. 2 to top NCAA overall seed Louisville in the Midwest.
The Tar Heels (24-10) won eight of 10 after switching to a four-guard lineup to reach the ACC final. But they ended up as the No. 8 in the South Region with a trip to Kansas City, Mo., where Williams coached Kansas during several Big 12 tournaments.
If they can beat Villanova on Friday, the Tar Heels could face the top-seeded Jayhawks in the third round.
As for N.C. State (24-10), the preseason ACC favorite earned the No. 5 seed in the ACC tournament and reached the semifinals to return to the NCAAs for the second straight year. The Wolfpack earned the No. 8 in the East and could have a third-round matchup with top-seeded Indiana.
Virginia (21-11) had wins against Duke and North Carolina, but losses to Old Dominion, Delaware and Boston College undermined that good work. Maryland (22-12) beat Duke twice yet lost four of six entering the ACC tournament.
“The perception of our league just wasn’t great,” Terrapins coach Mark Turgeon said. “Our league was much better than last year. ... (The ACC) had some bad losses early and it just stuck with us. And teams like us and Virginia just didn’t get it done on the road. If we just would have won on the road a little bit more I think both of us would have gotten in. But we didn’t.”
The ACC will have its chance to prove the selection committee wrong in the next three weeks. The league has more Final Four appearances since 1995 (14) than any other league and is tied with the Southeastern Conference with the most titles (five) during that span.
“Seeds aside, the ACC always does damage in March,” Miami senior Julian Gamble said. “I don’t think it’s going to come down to what seeds or what ranking. ... We haven’t had all the respect league-wide that we want, but I know when the tournament starts we’ll definitely get that.”