Clark from the ACC & SEC Blog has organized a roundtable to help preview this year's ACC basketball postseason. Let's get to it.
1. The national perception is that the ACC is down this year. Duke has been in the top 10 all year, but no one else has come close. Does the conference deserve this reputation? Why or Why not?
Of course the ACC is down. It lost the ACC/Big Ten Challenge for the first time ever this year, what more proof do you need?
2. Does Duke have what it takes to make a run to a National Championship? Why or Why not?
Duke is a team that is built to win an ACC title, but not a national title. They can play tough and physical when they need and they shoot well, but they don't have the guard play or the quality depth to get it done in the ACC tournament.
There's another reason that Duke and a lot of other ACC teams don't perform well in the NCAA tournament. Officiating in the ACC is extremely inconsistent. I'm not saying it's biased for one team or another, I'm saying that what's a foul one night in the ACC might not be one the next night.
And ACC officials let a lot of physical play go in conference play that gets called in the NCAA tournament. It takes a team like UNC had last year to make a run. UNC could play well regardless of how close a game was being called or at what tempo it was being played.
Duke, and really most teams in the ACC, can't do that. I think the team best equipped to make an NCAA run in this conference is Maryland. The Terps can get out and run and take Eric Hayes is really good at taking care of the ball. Duke is probably a Sweet 16 team regardless. Maryland will be more boom or bust. It could go out in the first or second round or make a Final Four run depending on its draw.
3. We know Duke and Maryland are in, but who else gets in from the ACC? Will we see any surprises on Selection Sunday?
There will be at least six with a possible seventh in Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets are trying hard to play themselves out of a tournament berth. They absolutely have to beat UNC in the first round of the tournament and could need another win depending on how other bubble teams fare in their conference tournaments.
Virginia Tech could be in trouble as well if they lose to Miami in the quarterfinals.
4. What is the biggest surprise of the season (good or bad)?
It has to be North Carolina's season. I didn't think the Heels would come anywhere close to winning the league, but I didn't think they'd be this miserable. It wasn't a collapse because that would mean they were good at some point in the season. They weren't it was more of a debacle with no leadership or chemistry or desire from the players to turn things around. They mirrored Oklahoma's season pretty well.
5. A couple of teams have had disappointing seasons. Whose seat is the hottest?
Looking at From the Rumble Seat's approval ratings it has to be Paul Hewitt.
6. Who is your player and coach of the year? Why?
Both awards head to Maryland. Greivis Vasquez is your player of the year and Gary Williams is your coach of the year. Vasquez was a difference maker all year and made big shots game after game, even when they didn't count. Maryland has improved with just about every game it's played, thanks in large part to Williams.