NC State defeated No. 11 Syracuse in the ACC quarterfinals before bowing out to No. 7 Duke in the next round on Saturday. The Wolfpack are still on the wrong side of the bubble, which means come Selection Sunday, T.J. Warren — the ACC Player of the Year and one of the top scorers in the nation — will likely headline an NIT field.
Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski is not happy about that. He told NC State head coach Mark Gottfried that at the end of the game and reiterated those statements in the post game press conference.
Then Coach K took out his frustrations on another conference.
“I’ll get in trouble probably for saying it,” Coach K said, according to Ryan Fagan of Sporting News. “Like the Atlantic 10, they’re a really good conference. I hear people saying there are six teams in there. Come on. I mean, they’re good, but put them in our conference and go through the meat grinder that our conference has to go through.
“That’s the thing. I don’t know if there’s a quantitative way of measuring the degree of difficulty that there is in playing in this conference or like a Big 12. You’ve got to be on all the time.”
Several weeks ago, following a loss to UMass, VCU head coach Shaka Smart mentioned that the Atlantic 10 is undervalued, and that there is a lack of sophistication as it relates to his conference.
“There are fill-in-the-blank, high-major programs and they carry a weight because of their name, first and foremost,” Smart said. “But the reality is if you look closer and you compare them to some of the teams in our league, I think our league shapes out pretty well. Again I’m not calling out anyone individually.”
In the latest edition of Dave Ommen’s Bracketology, the Atlantic 10 has six bids, though Dayton is still barely in the projected field. The ACC has five bids as Pittsburgh has likely secured a spot after defeating North Carolina in the ACC quarterfinals while NC State will have to sweat it out during Sunday evening.
According to kenpom.com, 10 ACC teams are ranked in the top 100. The Atlantic 10 has eight. In the RPI Top 100, both conferences have nine teams listed with five A-10 teams ahead of NC State. Combined, the nine A10 teams have more wins over RPI Top 50 teams than those nine ACC teams.
In 2013, the ACC won six tournament games. The A-10 won five — seven if you include Butler and Temple, which were conference members last year, but not this year.
Maybe Coach K doesn’t agree with the amount of bids each conference will receive this evening, but the A-10 has proven to be a major conference in college basketball recently.