Friday, March 23, 2012

How Pitt basketball matches up in the ACC

This is how I see the basketball programs as of now in the ACC, with the addition of Pitt and Syracuse.


1.  North Carolina-  It's pretty obvious what the top two are, but I have to give the nod to North Carolina, who quite frankly is the best basketball program in the country.  In the last seven seasons, they've won two National Championships, and played in three Final Fours and five Elite 8 appearances.  And they are still one of the favorites for this season. They've also finished first in 5 of the last 7 seasons in the ACC.

2.  Duke-  Probably the second best program in the country but still decidedly behind the Tar Heels.  In the last seven years they've won a National Championship and finished tied for first in the ACC twice.  It will be interesting to see if they can keep their current lofty level once Mike Krzyzewski leaves, but even if they go down a little, it's safe to say they will always be among the elite.

3.  Syracuse-  The obvious third best program in the league but they're also among the top five or so programs in the country.  The Orange have won over 20 games for the past 15 seasons and won the National Championship ten years ago with a legitimate chance to win another one this year.  Like Duke, it will be interesting to see how well they will fare without Jim Boeheim.  There isn't a big recruiting area in upstate NY, it gets very snowy during basketball season which should hurt recruiting of southern players, the Carrier Dome is not as cool as it used to be, and the program's brand will have to change by entering the ACC.  To Boeheim's credit he overcame a lot to turn the program into a power.  It will be interesting to see if heir apparent Mike Hopkins can keep it going at the same level.

4.  Pittsburgh-  Some may be surprised to see the Panthers ranked so high but this is how they stand at the moment.  Four programs lower on the list have had moments where they reached higher levels that Pitt has, but those four have also not been as good as Pitt recently.  The Panthers may find it difficult to change their brand and style of play for the ACC, but with Jamie Dixon and great facilities at their disposal the Panthers should at least enter the ACC as the fourth best program currently.

5.  Maryland-  The Terps definitely have a chance to move into the top three in the future but they are also one of the more underachieving programs in the country.  The list of greats that have come through the program is long and the recruiting area and fan support is large.  But they also haven't been to the Sweet 16 in ten years, one year after they won the National Championship, and they have only made the NCAA tournament three times in the last seven years.  Mark Turgeon was 17-15 in his first season but his early recruiting has been excellent so he may finally get the Terps to live up to their potential.

6.  North Carolina State-  This is another program that can move up if this season was any indication.  After Sidney Lowe went 86-78 in his five seasons, Mark Gottfried won 24 games this year and went to the Sweet 16.  Gottfried is also bringing in a top 5 class for next season so he could be on the verge of turning the Wolfpack into a power.



7.  Wake Forest-  Yet another program that has seen better days even though they tend to get the occasional elite player.  In the last seven years the Demon Deacons have made only two NCAA appearances and two 20+ win seasons.  Current coach Jeff Bzdelik is 21-32, a far cry from the days of Tim Duncan and Chris Paul.  But with the right coach you just know they can always turn into a power again.  The problem is, it's looking like Bzdelik may not be the guy.


8.  Florida State-  The Seminoles are seen as a football power, but recent history shows just how well they have done both on the court and in recruiting circles.  Leonard Hamilton has led the program to 20 or more wins in six of the last seven seasons and in the last four years the Seminoles have had double digit wins in the conference.  He's built a nice little program but you also get the impression that if Hamilton leaves, the program may find it hard to sustain their current level.


9.  Virginia-  There are good players in the Virginia area and the campus may be the most beautiful of any major conference university, but it's been a long time since Ralph Sampson.  In the last seven years the Cavaliers have been 48-64 in conference play and have only been in two NCAA tournaments and two 20+ winning seasons.  Even Pete Gillen had just one 20 win season in his seven years.  On the bright side, however, Tony Bennett is one of the better young coaches in the country and he was 22-10 this season, his third at the school.



10.  Clemson-  This is a school that was never known as a basketball power, and they still aren't, but they've actually been better in recent years than some of the more well known basketball schools.  In fact, in the last seven years the Tigers have had five 20+ win seasons and have been in four NCAA tournaments.  But you also get the feeling that while they have been more than competitive recently, compared to most of the other programs in the country, the upside is limited.



11.  Georgia Tech-  Under Bobby Cremins, the Yellow Jackets had some of the better college players ever, and even in the last decade they have managed to get some of the best prospects in the country.  But the team success  has not been up to par with just two 20+ win seasons in the last seven years.  Brian Gregory is the latest coach to try to turn things around but he was 11-20 in his first season.


12.  Virginia Tech-  Seth Greenberg has done a good job in Blacksburg and in the last seven years he's had four seasons with 20+ wins, even though in conference the Hokies have gone 53-59.  But the bottom line is, you just get the feeling that Greenberg is getting everything he can out of the program and it doesn't have the upside of the other programs in the conference.

13.  Boston College-  Once one of the most under appreciated programs in the country, things have changed once they entered the ACC.  After a respectable first two seasons with their Big East talent, the Eagles have gone a combined 32-48 in conference play and in Steve Donahue's second season the team finished at 9-22.  Bottom line, it looks like from a basketball standpoint, the move to the ACC may not work out for the school.


14.  Miami-  In his seven seasons, Frank Haith had three seasons of 20+ wins and they all came in his last four years.  But if you look closer you see that in those same seven seasons, the Hurricanes had a 43-69 record in conference and only made the NCAA tournament once.  And this is the same coach who went to Missouri this past season and was named the national coach of the year with a 30-5 record so if he can't make a Miami power you have to wonder who can.

32 comments:

  1. Interesting that the 3 teams at the bottom are all former Big East Teams.

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  2. I worry that what happened to BC could happen to us. Not only has BC gone south in bball since moving to the ACC, but it hasn't exactly helped them in football either.

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  3. Interesting.

    I see a lot of ACC basketball, and wouldn't rate FSU so low. When Pitt played them home and home a few years ago, you could see what Hamilton was trying to build, and it looks like it's come to pass. It's true that if Hamilton leaves, the program will likely decline, but that's true of most programs. Even UNC had a bad time of it after Smith and before Williams. The same could also be said of Pitt and Dixon.

    As a program, NC State is in a better place today than MD. MD athletics is hemorrhaging money right now, and there's not much money for anything other than football (if there was money they'd get rid of Edsall in a heartbeat).

    Agree it's hard to say what will happen with VA, but it typically draws decent players, and with a good coach, that program

    I'd have FSU at 5, NC State at 6, VA 7 and MD 8. The others just lag and there isn't much difference after that.

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  4. Most national basketball writers think Maryland is one of the top programs in the country. In fact, they will probably give me hell for putting them behind Pitt.

    As for FSU, yes, Pitt and NC would need an excellent coach to keep it going at their current level, but they would also find it easier to attract a better candidate, especially NC. FSU, on the other hand, is never going to be the focus of that university They have a good team now but it's just not going to be something their university gets behind. It's just too much about football there.

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  5. In the state of Florida it's all about the Gators and the wild parties in Gainesville. Up in Tallahassee at FSU the old rich folks will have you locked up for violating the noise ordinances. No way FSU becomes an ACC basketball power. Even the kids from Liberty City wanna go north and play for Billy Donovan, not Miami or FSU.

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  6. Love your work, but you didn'T make any friends in Talahasee. IMO, you have the 'Noles about 6-7 spots too low.

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    1. It's not the best team right now, it's the best program. Since FSU went to the Elite 8 in 1993, they've had just one Sweet 16 appearance in the last 19 years and only five winning conference seasons in that time. But I am going to move them up some and Georgia Tech down. In retrospect, it's been a long time since Georgia Tech has done anything.

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  7. Chris, i saw that malik zaire narrowed his list of schools. Did pitt make the cut?

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    1. I didnt see that. Come on say it aint so

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    2. It was on alabamas rivals page. It said malik zaire cuts his list of schools and alabama makes the cut. Im not subscribed so i didnt see which teams are still in it.

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    3. Yes, Pitt is on his list and one of the top favorites. In fact, as of now, I think Pitt has the best shot. Don't ink him in or even pencil him, but I think Pitt has a really good shot at him.

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    4. I watched the other ohio Qb, TraVon Chapman highlights the other day and I think I might prefer him over Zaire. Champman can absolutely toss the rock. But either way it would be terrific if we got one or the other. Anyways I like this basketball list. As much recent success as Pitt has had and as much as I love Dixon, the players, and the entire program I would put us below Maryland and NCST.

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  8. Just want to plug the Pitt CBI win for what it's worth. I believe they continued playing because Dixon is hard-headed, hard-working, and hard-nosed. He probably falls asleep watching tape of box out drills. What I'm saying is that that making this third-rate finals is about fighting really hard and putting everything into it to get a win the right way (unlike Howland?), even if your team sucks.

    Say what you will, but if Pitt has heart like its coach, even though he's not a great in-game manager, they'll be all tight. In fact, I think they'll have to change a bit in the ACC, but if they're smart they'll end up being the northern bullies on the block. Just like Pittsburgh, just like Dixon.

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  9. When I look at the list of programs, there are no cupcakes, except for BC and GT. Outside the top four teams and maybe N.C.State, all the other teams recruit for length and athleticism versus basketball prowess.

    Looks like any team can beat the other on any given night, except for the N.C. and Duke programs. Should be an interesting transition and I look for Pitt to do well if the change comes in the 13-14 year instead of the 12-13 year. Pitt needs seasoning and an attitude re-adjustment as well as a talent influx, which they may be getting with the incoming class. Do we expect to lose one or two out of the program in addition to the seniors? We need to drop some of the non-competitors asap and start to regain some balance with recruiting.

    Bringing in classes of 5-6 in a year is not optimum. I like the 3-4 per year approach, and allow the natural attrition process to occur.

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  10. Chris this is an interesting post, but in the long run it doesn't matter. Pitt controls its own destiny by winning or losing. Our past doesn't mean anything once we get into the ACC, for good and for bad.

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  11. There is no doubt that it is VERY interesting to see that three former Big East teams are sitting in the cellar of the ACC. Dixon should take a hard look at the choices that Miami, VT, and BC made to see if there are some lessons to be learned. I fear recruiting is the real issue. Recruiting is already tough enough for Pitt. Maybe it means that they need to focus on some new territory. Certainly different territory than the three former Big East schools focused upon? What do you think Doke?

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    1. Miami and VT were never good basketball schools and BC was a decent, overachieving program but nothing more. The truth is, Pitt is in much better shape entering the ACC then any of those three. I do know Pitt does have some nervousness about it, and I also know that people like my friend Mike DeCourcy thinks Pitt will be in trouble in the ACC, but I think Pitt may be just fine. As the list shows, a lot of those schools haven't been great in awhile and I don't know how long the likes of Florida State and Clemson can keep winning. it's going to be tough, but hell, Pitt was in the Big East when they, UConn, and Louisville were all in the top five so it's not like Pitt can't hang with the big boys. They even beat Duke. What Pitt has going for them is that there is always so much turnover at UNC and Duke that they just may get fortunate one year and win the conference.

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  12. I wouldnt be that concerned VT, Miami and BC always sucked at BBall regardless of what conference they were in.
    I think recruits will be drawn to Pitt in the future. BE basketball wont have the same draw with Pitt, Cuse and WV leaving and CF, Houston, SMU, Temple and Memphis coming in. ACC basketball will be King of the conferences.

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    1. I agree and its like business. We cannot beat duke using duke's game and directly competing with them for recruits and style of play. Miami, BC, and VT all have had ok years but decided to confront the UNCs and Dukes head to head in all aspects. Pitt can differentiate itself by using its power style of play and playing tight man to man defense. All they have to do is continue to play their game and we should be successful.

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  13. Chris any chance that Pitt actually hangs a CBI Banner if they win this thing?

    I sure as hell hope not.

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    1. LOL...
      that made me laugh...
      I hope not also.

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  14. I disagree that Pitt is going to need to change the way they recruit. I think if they keep recruiting tough, teamwork minded players that they will be just fine.

    Let the other teams be the ones who go with finesse styles so we don't have to watch a dogfight every time they play, but rather the Bully from the BEast knocking around the "Long and Athletic" teams from the ACC.

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  15. chris, you really think pitt will have to get lucky to win the acc title over duke and unc? maybe i sound like a homer but until this year there wasnt a pitt team in the last bdecade that couldnt hang with them. even in 09 when unc was undoubtedly the best team, pitt with blair, young, fields, and biggs couldve made things interesting. i think with pitt in the form that its been over the last decade could be right there with duke and unc for conference titles. dont get me wrong, im in no way saying that pitts program is on the same level, just that pitts team usually are in terms of being a great team. talent, thats another issue

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  16. I think Pitt would have destroyed UNC in 09'. Michigan State would have been the challenge. They had beat us the year before in the tourney, fairly easily, as a lower ranked team. They would have matched Pitt's toughness inside and slowed the game down.

    One thing to keep in mind in regards to the move to the ACC. It's easy to say Pitt will want to remain a tough, physical team that differentiates itself (I haven't seen that team in a couple of years by the way). It's another to actually do it. The pace is much faster in the ACC and when you play game after game at a quicker pace, naturally the team will begin to adapt and start playing at a faster pace. Pitt will have to alter it's style to remain competitive for that reason. Maybe not go all out but Pitt will have to recruit better athletes than they have in the past. In general, better athletes, aren't as physical as "system" guys. Playing these ACC teams here and there is different than competing against that style all season.

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    1. TT - we're all Pitt homers but, "destroying UNC in '09"?.....seriously?

      Come on - we were good - not that good.

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    2. Nobody wouldve destroyed unc in 09. The best teams wpuldve had to play one of their best games to just have a chance. Boy, what a matchup that wouldve been though. Blair-hansborough, fields-lawson, etc etc.

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  17. Bracketology...
    My brackets were a mess this year... threw them out...
    But I entered in the Yahoo brackets... 3.5 million others..
    Yet, I'm in the 99th percentile as of today... go figure.

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  18. Fields/Lawson would not have been a good matchup. Lawson would have run circles around him.

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    1. Dixon would have guarded Lawson. Blair and Young would have been too physical for UNC. UNC also had no depth.

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  19. Just my opinion. I think MSU was the tougher matchup for Pitt that year. Seriously, Ty Lawson would have been a problem UNC didn't have anyone that could guard Sam Young or Blair. Destroyed is probably a little strong but it would have been a positive matchup for Pitt. A better matchup than either Villanova or OK St was.

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  20. Well malik zaire committed to notre dame

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