The ACC is so tough, it will get at least 10 NCAA bids

Virginia Tech guard Seth Allen (4) goes up for a basket against Duke forward Jayson Tatum (0) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Dec 31, 2016, at Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg, Va. Tech won 89-75. (AP Photo/Don Petersen)
Don Petersen/AP
Seth Allen (right) was one of six Virginia Tech players who scored in double figures against Duke.

The ACC is unquestionably the most talented and balanced league in the country. The acknowledged top three teams — Duke, North Carolina, and Virginia — all lost on Saturday. That would not happen in any other league.

North Carolina was upset at Georgia Tech and Duke was beaten decisively at Virginia Tech. Virginia lost at home to Florida State, but it was only a few days ago that the Cavaliers beat Louisville at the Pitino Palace. Louisville would be the next best team in the league.

This will go on all season. I think six teams — Duke, North Carolina, Virginia, Louisville, Florida State and Miami — have a chance to win the regular-season title.


Not far behind are Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, and North Carolina State. A cut below, but still good, are Clemson, Pitt, and Wake Forest. Amazingly, Syracuse has to be rated near the bottom along with Georgia Tech and BC.

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Maybe Tech, based on Saturday’s upset, will rise up. For BC, I’m not sure where the wins are going to come from but that was a nice one over Syracuse on Sunday. It should give Eagles fans some hope.

In the end, the ACC will have a minimum of 10 NCAA bids, maybe as many as 12.

Meanwhile, in college basketball last week:

Elevator going up:

Baylor: The Bears are undefeated; I’m waiting for them to stumble but it didn’t happen in their Big 12 opener as they buried Oklahoma, 76-50. At 12-0, it’s the program’s best start in 16 years.

East Tennessee: The Buccaneers are 11-3, their best start since 1990-91. The Southern Conference will come down to East Tennessee and Chattanooga. They don’t meet until Jan. 28.


Georgia Tech: Or maybe this should just be for coach Josh Pastner. Pastner was practically run out of Memphis, but he landed a good job in Atlanta with potential for the future and zero expectations this season. Many people thought Tech was the worst team in the ACC and was heading toward a winless conference season. Instead, Pastner has the Yellow Jackets at 9-4 including a stunning, totally unexpected 75-63 victory over North Carolina.

Michigan State: Sparty is not dead yet. They opened the Big Ten season by winning at Minnesota, which entered the game with only one loss (and then won at Purdue Sunday), and overcame a 13-point halftime deficit to win in overtime. Then they beat Northwestern to end the Wildcats’ nine-game winning streak.

Nebraska: The always-overlooked, never-respected Cornhuskers really surprised with consecutive road victories at Indiana and Maryland. The Huskers had bad loss to Gardner-Webb, but otherwise their schedule has been brutal with losses to UCLA, Virginia Tech, Clemson, Creighton, and Kansas.

Oregon: The Ducks, feeling good as a home team, handed UCLA and Southern Cal their first losses in a consecutive games. I will say this, UCLA’s Bryce Alford, an 87 percent free throw shooter, missed a one-and-one to give Oregon a chance; and Dillon Brooks hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to give the Ducks an 89-87 victory. That will never happen again, so the Duck should enjoy it.

St. John’s: I thought I had a permanent spot for the Fightin’ Carneseccas on the escalator, but suddenly they’re on the elevator. It started with a shocking 33-point victory over Syracuse at the Carrier Dome. Of course, everyone’s beating Syracuse (including BC) but they followed it up with an upset victory over Butler then took care of business on the road by beating DePaul.


Virginia Tech: The Gobblers are officially a team to be reckoned with as they captured their eighth straight win by beating Duke 89-75 in Blacksburg Saturday.

Escalator going down:

Indiana: The Hoosiers are a riddle wrapped in an enigma. This is a team with Final Four talent, but just lost its last two games to Nebraska (at home) and Louisville (in Indianapolis). Louisville really pushed the Hoosiers around. Not sure what the future holds.

Loyola of Chicago: The Ramblers (remember, they won the NCAA tournament in 1963) had the look of a Missouri Valley contender until consecutive losses to Toledo, Drake, and Illinois State. The Drake loss as the bad one.

Missouri: The Mizzou Misery never stops. How about a home loss to Lipscomb, that school’s first victory over a power conference since 2008 and its first win over an SEC team since 1951?

Monmouth: As I’ve said before, the Hawks deserved an NCAA at-large big last season but this season they’re going to have to win the MAAC tournament (which they can do) even after losing a home game to Rider Saturday. I expect better at home, however.

Texas: I’m a believer in Shaka Smart; he will succeed in Austin. Not this year, however. The Longhorns lost at home to Kent State and then dropped their Big 12 opener at Kansas State and are now 6-7.

This week’s Final Four: Duke, Villanova, Kansas, UCLA.

This week’s national champion: UCLA.

Joe Sullivan can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GlobeSullivan