It’s been another crazy year in college hoops, and the power conferences are, by all means, not safe. The ACC as a whole has been in one word, disappointing.
The top seven teams were all picked to make the NCAA Tournament in the Preseason Poll. In order, they are Duke, Florida State, North Carolina, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Louisville, and Syracuse.
On the other hand, the Mountain West Conference had just two teams picked to be playing deep into March: Colorado State and San Diego State.
The ACC Struggles
Of the ACC’s seven perceived tournament threats, just four of them have a real shot at making March Madness, and only one of them is truly a lock (Duke).
Florida State has six conferences losses, most of which are bad losses. The one thing holding them together is their win at home vs. Duke and two wins against Miami (FL). Florida State needs Miami to keep up their surprising season to improve the quality of those wins.
North Carolina has beaten the poorer teams they’ve played, but they get blown out almost every time of all the decent teams they play. Virginia has early-season losses to mid-majors Navy and James Madison to overcome.
So the ACC has one tournament lock and three bubble teams from the supposed preseason-locked seven. Then there are the surprises.
Wake Forest, Notre Dame, and Miami (FL) have all exceeded expectations and are in line for a possible appearance, but none of them have really impressed any of the voters enough to be ranked in the top 25 a single time this year.
In fact, the ACC hasn’t had more than one team ranked in the top 25 for almost the entire season, and they don’t deserve a second.
For one of College Basketball’s most successful conferences, it’s been a weird year and a year where this late into the season, a power five conference may only deserve one bid, but will likely get a few more, and maybe an extra if a lesser team makes a run in the conference tournament.
Of the seven teams, who have a shot at qualifying for March, their average NET ranking sits at 46.
And this is where the Mountain West Comes in.
Of the six Mountain West teams who have a legitimate shot at making the Tournament (the sixth is Freno State, who have very little chance but may make a run in the conference tournament), their average NET ranking is 43, bettering the ACC.
The Mountain West has five teams in the NET top 50, while the ACC has just three.
Mountain West Contenders
Colorado State has been everything people hoped for and more, with star David Roddy leading the Rams to an 11-0 start. San Diego State will likely finish as a bubble team and may be on the outside looking in, but wins against Saint Mary’s and Colorado State will help their case if they can pull out a couple more impressive victories.
After losing their star player to the NBA last year, Boise State returned the rest of the team and has been fantastic in conference play. They are likely to receive a bid if they continue their form, even if they lose early in their conference tournament.
Utah State and Fresno State are capable teams, well over .500. They present challenges to the top teams of the Mountain West, and with a couple of victories to close the season, they may just sneak in with a run in the conference playoffs.
And then there is one of college basketball’s best stories. A team everyone is rooting for. Wyoming was picked to finish ninth out of 11 in the preseason, and they haven’t been good for years.
In fact, they have often finished almost bottom of the conference in many of the years this century, other than their unlikely run to the postseason in 2015, where they were pummeled in the first round by a 30-3 Northern Iowa team.
The Cowboys have been great all year, especially in conference play. They are the top NET-ranked team in the Mountain West, and they have absolute star power as two players average almost 20 a game.Wyoming has shocked the basketball world helped put the Mountain West Conference on the map, with an overall record of 20-3.
It’s hard to imagine some of these Mountain West teams losing to anyone right now in the ACC except for Duke, so if the ACC doesn’t get their act together, it’s going to be Duke or bust for this year’s conference success.