Fans of the Atlantic Coast Conference Basketball might want to make a mental bookmark of what they are watching in these last ten days of November because the results our league is currently generating will make significant impacts on the college basketball landscape that will remain relevant all the way to March.
Although only half the way through the ten day stretch, and with the ACC-Big 10 Challenge looming, conference members have already made emphatic statements supporting the dominant strength of the conference in early season competition.
(Forgive me for giving the appearance of glossing over the potential impact of the ACC-Big 10 Challenge – but the ACC has dominated the Challenge by winning each of the 5 years and accumulating an overall record of 27-17. Until the Big 10 gives us reason, how can we not view the Challenge as just another opportunity where the conference will exert its excellence?)
Over the last few days ACC teams have man-handled non-conference opponents in some very key games and tournaments:
* Last night, the nation’s top ranked Wake Forest Demon Deacons bested perennial over-rated media darling, Arizona to capture the ACC’s third consecutive Preseason NIT Championship. Arizona’s loss came only 5 days after the ACC’s (projected) 8th place, Virginia Cavaliers, hung an 18 point defeat on the Pac-10’s projected champion.
* Also last night, Maryland led by over 30 points in the second half while running Top 25 Memphis out of the gym to the tune of an 84-61 victory.
* Earlier in the week, UNC-Chapel Hill dominated the EA Sports Maui Invitational with wins over the SEC and Big Eleven in route to another championship for an ACC school.
* Even future key opponents of ACC teams are getting into the act of beefing-up the conference’s pre-season buffet. NC State’s marquee non-conference opponent, the Washington Huskies, have advanced to the Championship of The Great Alaskan Shootout with wins over two potential NCAA Tournament teams – Utah and Oklahoma. The Huskies are currently rated 10th in the (not yet relevant) RPI.
The championships and general results that the conference members are generating today will ultimately pay significant dividends for the ACC’s 6th, 7th and (maybe even?) 8th place finisher when the NCAA Tournament Selection committee convenes in early March and releases the 65 teams that will play for the 2005 National Championship.
Last season, the ACC broke its own record by compiling the strongest conference RPI ranking in the history of the measurement. One can only imagine how this season’s ACC could have potentially broken that record if not for the dilution of the conference’s strength created by the addition of Miami and Virginia Tech.