GREENSBORO, N.C. -- On the eve of Selection Sunday, Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski used the bully pulpit to advocate for more than the five ACC teams certain to make the NCAA tournament. And in so doing, he took a dig at the Atlantic 10.
Krzyzewski spoke after his Blue Devils defeated North Carolina State 75-67 in the ACC tournament semifinals. The Wolfpack (21-13) defeated Miami and upset Syracuse here in Greensboro, but the loss to Duke will make for beaucoup red-and-white anxiety awaiting the 6 p.m., unveiling of the 68-team bracket.
Krzyzewski lobbied hard for State to be included with ACC locks Virginia, Syracuse, North Carolina, Pittsburgh and, for the 19th consecutive season, his Blue Devils.
Following the game, Krzyzewski told his Wolfpack counterpart, Mark Gottfried, that his team should be chosen.
“I don’t understand it, really,” Krzyzewski said of media chatter that State is on the bubble. They won at Tennessee. They probably should have beaten Syracuse twice. I think they’ve played a really good schedule, and they’ve got one of the best players in the country (in T.J. Warren). …
“I’ll get in trouble probably for saying (this). 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. To me, Florida State’s there. … But really, our league should get more respect. … Come on, man. I don’t get it. The Clemson team we played last night is a heck of a basketball team. But this team we played today is really good. … They’re a tough out, man. … They’d be a tough out. I wouldn’t want to play them in the NCAA tournament.”
Indeed, N.C. State won at NCAA-bound Tennessee and lost by a point at Syracuse. But slighting the Newport News-based A-10 doesn’t help Krzyzewski’s case. A-10 teams went 8-6 against the ACC this season, and the victories included VCU’s at ACC regular-season champ Virginia.
The more I look at the credentials of other contenders, the more I suspect the 10-member selection committee chaired by Wake Forest athletic director Ron Wellman will choose the Wolfpack.
This is my 24th year of projecting the field, and while I’m not nearly as detailed as the national types, or especially my friend Patrick Stevens of Syracuse.com, in predicting sites and matchups, my track record isn’t half bad.
Last season I picked all the at-large teams correctly. I missed one team each of the five previous seasons.
So with Saturday night's final conference title game -- 13-19 Cal Poly completing its stunning run through the Big West -- complete, here we go, just by seeds.
No. 1s: Florida, Wichita State, Arizona, Wisconsin.
No. 2s: Michigan, Villanova, Virginia, Duke.
No. 3s: Kansas, Iowa State, Syracuse, Creighton.
No. 4s: Louisville, Cincinnati, San Diego State, Michigan State.
No. 5s: Texas, North Carolina, VCU, Oklahoma.
No. 6s: Ohio State, UCLA, Saint Louis, Baylor.
No. 7s: Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Kentucky.
No. 8s: Gonzaga, Colorado, George Washington, Oregon.
No. 9s: Oklahoma State, Pitt, Stanford, Kansas State.
No. 10s: Dayton, Iowa, Arizona State, Memphis.
No. 11s: Providence, Tennessee, Saint Joseph’s, Nebraska/Xavier play-in.
No. 12s: Stephen F. Austin, Harvard, North Dakota State, N.C. State/BYU play-in.
No. 13s: Delaware, Manhattan, Tulsa, New Mexico State.
No. 14s: Mercer, Western Michigan, Louisiana Lafayette, Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
No. 15s: North Carolina Central, American, Eastern Kentucky, Weber State.
No. 16s: Wofford, Albany, Mount St. Mary’s/Texas Southern play-in, Coastal Carolina/Cal Poly play-in.
Multi-bid conferences: Big 12 seven teams, ACC, Atlantic 10, Big Ten, Pacific 12 six each, Big East and American Athletic four each, SEC three, West Coast and Mountain West two each.
I can be reached at 247-4636 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me at twitter.com/DavidTeelatDP
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