Item: Following the regular season which was uncharacteristic for the ACC by the lack of teams regularly ranked in the Top 25, and “only” five subsequent NCAA bids to conference teams, with historic heavyweights Duke and North Carolina now facing each other for the first time in an NCAA game in this weekend’s Final Four, there’s a sense of redemption. An ACC team is guaranteed to play for the national championship, and a win April 4 would mean an ACC titlist for the fourth time in the last seven tournaments.
In the glory years of the Big East during the 1980s and 90s, we always hoped that the league’s all-time best rivalry, Syracuse-Georgetown, would one year end up being a matchup at the Final Four, preferably for the national championship.
The closest the teams came to potentially meeting for the title was 1989 when both schools lost in the Elite Eight. If the Orangemen and Hoyas had advanced to the Final Four that season in Seattle, and each won its national semifinal contest, they would have faced off in the title game.
Now the ACC’s all-time best rivalry, Duke-North Carolina, will be showcased Saturday night in New Orleans, although the winner will have to subsequently conquer Kansas or Villanova in its quest to win it all.
Ironically, Syracuse’s last Final Four appearance in 2016 came against fellow ACC-mate Carolina, also the previous time the conference had half of the Final Four entrants before this season. SU is 2-2 all-time against the Tar Heels in the NCAA Tournament going back to 1957, while going 0-for-3 against Duke in tourney matchups dating back to 1966.
Against other ACC teams all-time in the NCAA Tournament, Syracuse is 0-1 (1985) against Georgia Tech, and 2-1 (1984, 1990, 2016) vs. Virginia.
With the Orange missing out on the tournament by suffering a once-in-50 years losing season, the ‘Cuse couldn’t make a contribution to the ACC having the best record of any league in this year’s version of March Madness.
Below are the conference won/loss records (minimum two games played) heading into the Final Four: