- The Washington Times - Monday, March 24, 2008

It’s official. The ACC was down this year. Really down.

Only one ACC team, top-seeded North Carolina, advanced to the Sweet 16. That’s the same number as the Atlantic 10, Southern and Sun Belt conferences.

Otherwise, it was Duke out. Clemson out. Miami out.

Miami, seeded seventh, made up a big deficit and took second-seeded Texas to the wire in the second round of the South regional yesterday. At least the Hurricanes lost with honor.

The same can’t be said of fifth-seeded Clemson, which was upset by 12th-seeded Villanova in the Midwest first round Friday.

And Duke? Also a disappointment. The Blue Devils, a No. 2 seed, lost in the West second round to No. 7 West Virginia on Saturday at Verizon Center. This clearly was not a vintage Duke team, as evidenced by its narrow escape against No. 15 Belmont in Thursday’s first-round game.

This one-team scenario is not new to the ACC. It happened last year, too, when only No. 1 seed North Carolina survived the first two rounds. There was, however, one big difference. In 2007, seven ACC teams made the tournament.

Adding to the critique of the ACC, this is the first time the league has sent just one team to the Sweet 16 in consecutive seasons since the NCAA tournament field expanded to 64 in 1985. Before 2007, in fact, the conference sent at least two teams every year since tournament expansion.

This is especially stunning — and to ACC aficionados, disturbing — considering Virginia Tech and Miami joined the league in 2004 and Boston College the following year. Florida State was added in 1991.

And elsewhere

The SEC might have fared even worse than the ACC, considering the conference put six teams in the tournament. But other than No. 2 Tennessee, only Vanderbilt was seeded as high as fourth.

Tennessee, which barely scraped by Butler in overtime yesterday, is the lone survivor after Vanderbilt, Kentucky and Georgia got bounced in the first round and Arkansas and Mississippi State lost in the second.

The Big East had three teams advance, but the conference took a big hit when its marquee team, Georgetown, lost to Davidson in the Midwest second round yesterday in one of the biggest upsets of the tournament. The Hoyas were a No. 2 seed and the Wildcats a No. 10 seed.

That leaves West Virginia, Louisville and surprising Villanova, a No. 12 seed, carrying the Big East torch into the Sweet 16.

Other conferences with multiple representatives are the Pac-10 (UCLA, Stanford, Washington State), Big Ten (Wisconsin, Michigan State) and Big 12 (Kansas, Texas).

Sowing the seeds

The East was the only region that held form as the top four seeds — North Carolina, Tennessee, Louisville and Washington State all advanced to Charlotte.

The South almost matched the East with the top three seeds — Memphis, Texas and Stanford — heading to Houston along with No. 5 Michigan State.

The Midwest is the Cinderella bracket, with Davidson and Villanova moving on to Detroit with No. 1 Kansas and No. 3 Wisconsin.

Phoenix and the West bracket is interspersed with high seeds (No. 1 UCLA, No. 3 Xavier), a middle seed (West Virginia) and a long shot, No. 12 Western Kentucky.

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