The NCAA tournament selection committee takes a lot of factors into account when deciding which teams will be dancing in March. Recent performances will be one of the deciding factors with conference tournaments wrapping up.
The ACC tournament wasn’t without some big surprises. Maryland’s upset of Duke in the second round may have punched the Terps’ ticket to the Big Dance, while North Carolina State did its part to hurt Virginia’s chances of a postseason berth.
Miami’s ACC victory wasn’t much of a surprise, but the Hurricanes did what they had to do to lock up a top seed in the NCAA tournament. A potential No. 1 seed, Miami couldn’t have asked for a better outcome with the selection committee making its final decisions on Sunday.
Let’s take a look at the three games that will have had the biggest impact on tournament seeding.
Maryland 83, Duke 74 (Second Round)
Duke is a team that can’t afford to lose its touch from behind the arc. With a 4-of-25 performance from three-point range on Friday, the Blue Devils ran into a Terrapins buzz saw.
Maryland held Duke to just 41.5 percent shooting from the floor, securing an 83-74 victory that won’t go unnoticed by the selection committee.
The Terps entered the ACC tournament on the bubble, with an NCAA berth very much in question. After starting the season 13-1, Maryland faded in the second half, dropping 10 of its last 17 games before the tournament.
A poor second half can certainly damage a team’s postseason chances, but the selection committee often has a short memory when conference tournament wins come into play. A big upset over the Blue Devils may have been enough to push Maryland over the top and into the Big Dance.
Meanwhile, Duke has to be concerned with how the loss reflects on its tournament positioning. Failing to win a game in the conference tournament won’t bode well for its chances of a top seed.
North Carolina State 75, Virginia 56 (Second Round)
Like Maryland, Virginia entered the ACC tournament on the bubble. And like the team Maryland bested in the second round, the Cavaliers failed to win a game.
Virginia boasts one of the best defenses in the nation, but that defense didn’t slow NC State on Friday. With the inability to get much going on the offensive end of the floor (save Akil Mitchell’s 19 points), the Cavaliers looked like a team in no shape to make a big splash in the NCAA tournament.
One win the conference tournament would have nearly guaranteed an NCAA berth; even a close loss at the hands of the Wolfpack would have helped Virginia’s cause. As it stands, though, the Cavaliers should be crossing their fingers on Selection Sunday.
With the win, NC State proved it has the offensive firepower to be a force as a No. 7 or No. 8 seed in the tournament. Scott Wood, C.J. Leslie and T.J. Warren were outstanding against Virginia, and even without much production from Richard Howell, the Wolfpack was able to get the better of a terrific Virginia defense.
Miami 87, North Carolina 77 (Finals)
That Miami won the conference title wasn’t a surprise. The biggest question now is NCAA tournament seeding.
The Hurricanes have done enough this season to garner plenty of attention as a potential No. 1 seed. Beating North Carolina in the championship was impressive, but one has to wonder how much more impressive a win over Duke would have been.
It’s unfair to discredit any team for winning the matchups with which it is presented. Unfortunately, the selection committee may not value a win over North Carolina in the same way it would have had the Hurricanes beaten Duke.
Consider this a bittersweet victory for Miami. It won the ACC title and a hard-fought battle against North Carolina, but that may not be enough to boost the Hurricanes to No. 1 status.
With the loss, the Tar Heels now can’t expect better than a No. 6 seed in the tournament. Reaching the conference finals shouldn’t be overlooked, but they had a fairly easy path (through Florida State and Maryland) with Duke being handed an early exit.
Beating Miami may have propelled North Carolina into the No. 5 or No. 4 range in the NCAA tournament. As it stands, the Tar Heels will probably be dancing in the middle of the pack.
Be sure to print out your free NCAA tournament bracket courtesy of Bleacher Report.