Man, it’s hard not to chuckle at that image. Jokes aside, there was a time in the not-too-distant past when you could bank on plenty of ACC teams making it to the second weekend of March Madness. That was certainly not the case this year. Miami was the only ACC school to advance to the Sweet 16. Virginia and NC State bowed out in the round of 64, Duke and Pitt followed not long after.
Let’s compare that to some other notable conferences. The Big East and SEC each have three teams still alive, the Big 12 has a pair, the Big Ten and PAC-12 also both only have one, the other five are either Gonzaga or come from a non-power conference. Yes, it’s March and everything is extremely unpredictable, but the ACC being outclassed by conferences it’s supposed to be superior to isn’t going to cut it. Remember, the SEC is supposed to be a football conference, the Big 12 is losing its top dogs, and Syracuse left the Big East. What message is that supposed to send?
Conference realignment has led to the formation of seemingly two power conferences in the Big Ten and SEC. Even without Texas and Oklahoma in the Big 12 or USC and UCLA in the PAC-12, there are strong arguments to be made for those conferences still being better than the ACC in football. A lackluster NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament performance does nothing to help. Remember when Jim Boeheim dissed the Big Ten’s performance in the NCAA Tournament back in October? It may be nothing special this year too, but the ACC hasn’t done any better.
From a Syracuse perspective, all Adrian Autry’s brass can do is sit back and watch their conference rivals detriment their recruiting aspirations. Plain and simple, the ACC looks inferior to other fellow conferences as well as the ACC in years past, which can’t be appealing to the top prospects in the country. And if Syracuse can’t hang with their conference foes that are crumbling, how would it look against college basketball’s cream of the crop? SU is sitting on the couch, and that isn’t the only thing diminishing recruiting hopes this March.
Again, March Madness is extremely unpredictable and anything can happen. But the lack of ACC teams making a deep run has to be a wake-up call. Unless the Hurricanes make a run to the Final Four at minimum, the NCAA Tournament has been a massive failure for the conference. And with no true powerhouse in football anymore, the ACC desperately needs some sort of spark to maintain its reputation.