This morning, CBS is predicting only 5 ACC teams to make the NCAA tournament: UNC, Duke, Wake Forest, FSU (finally!), Clemson. Those on the bubble are Boston College, Maryland, Miami, and VT.
Now, Miami is just done. The VT game was an eliminator and the Hurricanes lost. I think Boston College is in, if only because the Eagles had a winning record in the conference and beat both Duke and UNC. If there is any team in the ACC that can bow out early in the conference tournament and still get into the NCAAs, it's BC. Maryland and VT both finished 7-9 in the ACC and that's not good. Both need to win today (vs. Wake and North Carolina, respectively), and then probably also win again to get in. Unlikely.
Now, here comes our yearly reminder that life isn't fair: the Big East and Big Ten are both projected to get 7 teams (2 more than my beloved ACC) into the NCAAs. The Big East is fine; it's a bloated conference with a lot of bottom-feeding teams packed in the middle, but most of the teams did well this year and there are legitimate sleeper teams (like Syracuse, clearly) lurking just below the top tier.
But the Big Ten. Have you ever noticed that the name, "Big Ten" isn't even accurate? This whole conference is a lie! It's hollow and rotten from the inside out. Seven NCAA teams? Really. With Penn State on the bubble, supposedly. Why is this so wrong?
Picture this: the Big Ten gets 8 bids, but what nobody notices is that the worst team to make the postseason, Penn State, is exactly as mediocre as the best team, Michigan State. 2 teams lose in the first round, say Minnesota and Ohio State. Embarassing, but there are still 6 hanging around (still more than the ACC!). But that second round...I predict 2 Big Ten reps play each other in a bracket, simply because they'll have middle seeds and wind up in an eliminator. Which is great, because it means one of the undeserving wanks goes home, but it's also terrible, because it means one of them stays, even if it's a 35-30 PSU/Illinois game all over again. Barf! I predict that 4 of the 6 Big Eleven teams go out in the second round, with only Illinois and Michigan State making it to the Sweet Sixteen. If the ostrich-like fan base of the CornBelt Conference actually pulls its head out of the hole it's in the other 11.5 months of the year and looks around at this point, it will notice that the Big Ten has fewer remaining bullets than, say, the Pac-10, which is a bad conference. Or the SEC, another bad conference.
Bottom line: I'm not just hating the Big Ten (though I am doing that). The point here is that this is one of those things where a conference shouldn't have this much leverage but somehow does, too many teams get in, most lose right away, everyone is unhappy, and in the end, only one team actually plays like a contender. The splash-back of this scenario is (trust me; I follow the ACC and it happened there) the "Notre Dame football effect;" to wit: if the Big Eleven flops after getting 7-8 bids, for the next 10 years talk surrounding the tournament will always include some mention of the "over-entitled" and "overrated" Big Ten, and remember that time a bunch of really average teams got bids and then all flopped the first weekend? What a mistake that was!