The ACC set a conference record with nine NCAA Tournament bids on Sunday, with six teams seeded fifth or higher, including three seeded second or higher. Time will tell if the committee’s love for the ACC was warranted – or if the conference was overrated this season – but Tom Pecora believes the hype.
“I think there could be three ACC teams in the Final Four,” the former college basketball coach said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “I think Carolina, Louisville, Notre Dame – I wouldn’t be shocked if all of three of those were coming out of the South, Midwest and the West. Then I have Villanova coming out of the East. But it wouldn’t surprise me at all. The depth in that conference, the battles night in and night out, the level of player that they’re getting when you look at top 100 recruits and how many are heading into that conference – it’s always been a blue-blood basketball conference.”
So has the Big East, which received a record 11 tournament bids in 2011.
“The Big East, I think, is interesting because so many people had it written off after Syracuse and UConn and Louisville and Pitt . . . moved on from that Big East since they got 11 bids,” Pecora said. “Everyone was concerned (about what) will happen to the Big East? Is it basically going to become a conference like the West Cost Conference where you have two teams at the top as they have with Gonzaga and St. Mary’s? But I think the Midwest teams have done a tremendous job in the Big East when you look at the success that Xavier and Butler have had, and now Marquette is a team that’s playing at a high level. Wojo (Steve Wojciechowski) has done a great job there. Creighton, even after the injury (to Maurice Watson), is still finding a way to win basketball games.
“So the ACC is very, very good with nine teams, and everyone thought that Syracuse would be No. 10,” Pecora continued. “But when you look at the Big East, they get 70 percent of their teams in this tournament. Those are two basketball-eccentric conferences in my eyes.”