The ACC envisioned the future Monday with its New York rollout for new members Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame. But with the final competition on the NCAA’s sports calendar — baseball’s College World Series — settled last week, let’s review how the conference’s schools fared in 2012-13.
Membership changes, new bowl arrangements and a media grant of rights created headlines throughout the year, but the focus here is on the field.
With no national championship contender in football, and absent Final Four teams in men’s and women’s basketball, the league disappointed in the marquee sports. But North Carolina won NCAA titles in women’s lacrosse and women’s soccer, with Virginia collecting the hardware in men’s tennis, Duke in men’s golf. Plus, North Carolina and North Carolina State reached the College World Series.
Led by Virginia, nine schools divided the ACC’s 25 championships. The Cavaliers won five — Wake Forest, Boston College and Georgia Tech were shut out.
North Carolina was the lone ACC school to finish among the top 10 in the Directors’ Cup all-sports standings, which award points based on NCAA postseason. At least two conference schools made the top 10 the previous four years.
(Locally, Old Dominion finished 101st, William and Mary 128th and Hampton 221st. In the Division III Cup standings, Christopher Newport was 29th, the Captains’ seventh consecutive year among the top 45.)
Here’s a school-by-school ACC breakdown, in order of Directors’ Cup finish:
NORTH CAROLINA (8TH): National championships in women’s lacrosse and women’s soccer lifted the Tar Heels to an 11th top-10 in the last 12 years. Carolina, by the way, is the only school other than Stanford to win the Cup, earning the honor in its 1993-94 inaugural. The Cardinal has claimed the last 19. ACC titles: field hockey, baseball and men’s lacrosse.
FLORIDA STATE (11th): An eighth straight top-20 for a school that’s never finished outside the top 50. The Seminoles’ best Cup years were 2010 and ’12, when they placed fifth. ACC titles: football, volleyball, men’s outdoor track and women’s cross country.
DUKE (12TH): A second NCAA title in men’s lacrosse headlined the Blue Devils’ 10th consecutive top-20. Duke’s top finishes were fifth in 2005 and ’11. ACC titles: men’s and women’s golf, women’s basketball.
VIRGINIA (20TH): It’s never a complete year when your football team isn’t bowl-eligible and neither basketball program makes the NCAA tournament. Moreover, the Cavaliers’ storied men’s lacrosse team failed to make postseason. But a first national championship for men’s tennis, after so many near-misses, capped a year in which Virginia remained among the 14 schools to never finish outside the top 30 in the Directors’ Cup. ACC titles: rowing, women’s soccer, men’s tennis, men’s and women’s swimming.
NORTH CAROLINA STATE (34th): Led by baseball making the College World Series, the Wolfpack fell two places shy of matching its best Cup finishes of 32nd in 1995 and ’96. ACC titles: softball.
VIRGINIA TECH (36th): A fourth top-40 in six years marked continued progress for the Hokies’ non-revenue teams, especially given football’s down season. ACC titles: wrestling, men’s cross country and men’s indoor track.
MARYLAND (44th): For all the ill will generated by the Terps’ departure for the Big Ten, there’s no denying this is a well-rounded program. This was Maryland’s 19th top-50 finish in the Cup’s 20 years, with a 19th-place tie in 1998 the best. ACC titles: men’s soccer and women’s lacrosse.
CLEMSON (52nd): Just a tick off the Tigers’ average for the last decade. Clemson’s best Cup year was 16th in 1994. ACC titles: women’s indoor and outdoor track.
MIAMI (71st): A rare down baseball season and second consecutive self-imposed football bowl ban sentenced the Hurricanes to their worst Cup finish, 12 spots below last year. Once the NCAA finally levies sanctions in the Nevin Shapiro scandal, perhaps the entire athletic operation can exhale and move on. ACC titles: men’s basketball and women’s tennis.
GEORGIA TECH (74th): The Yellow Jackets haven’t been this low since 1999’s No. 80 finish. Their bests were 31st in 2004 and ’05. ACC titles: none.
BOSTON COLLEGE (76th): With no national title in men’s ice hockey, the Eagles had their lowest Cup finish in 17 years. Surprisingly, BC has never placed higher than 51st, that in 2001 and ’06. ACC titles: none.
WAKE FOREST (98th): For the second consecutive year, the Deacons had their worst-ever Cup finish, six spots below 2011-12. Wake has faded not only in football and men’s basketball, but also its once-powerful Olympic programs. From 2000-09, the Deacons boasted 10 straight top-50 years, with a best of 23rd in 2002. ACC titles: none.
And here are the ACC’s three newcomers, again in order of Directors’ Cup finish:
NOTRE DAME (9th): Appearances in football’s national title game and women’s basketball’s Final Four helped the Fighting Irish crack the top 10 for the second time — they were sixth in 2006. Notre Dame has never finished below 31st, all-around quality that meshes ideally with the ACC.
SYRACUSE (39th): A men’s basketball Final Four led the Orange to their highest Cup finish, 11 spots better than last year.
PITTSBURGH (109th): Like Virginia Tech in 2004, the Panthers enter the ACC far behind in Olympic sports. This was their fourth straight year outside the top 100, and their best, 48th, came way back in 1995. ACC membership helped Virginia Tech improve its non-revenue programs. Can Pitt manage the same?
Finally, there’s Louisville, which replaces Big Ten-bound Maryland next year. The Cardinals’ unprecedented four-pack — BCS victory, men’s national basketball title, women’s Final Four and College World Series — elevated them to 38th in the Cup standings, their seventh consecutive year among the top 45.
That’s fairly routine by ACC standards but a remarkable transformation for a program that finished 174th in 2000 and 100th or worse from 1995-2004.
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