How the ACC set a NCAA Tournament record with six Sweet 16 teams

Throughout the regular season, the question of conference dominance revolved around the Big 12 and ACC. In postseason play though, it’s relatively clear which league has been best.

Simply put, the ACC has owned the NCAA Tournament thus far.

With Syracuse’s 75-50 rout over Middle Tennessee State, the ACC has now placed a record six teams in the Sweet 16. The league boasts a sparkling 12-1 record in the Tournament thus far, with the sole blemish being a 47-43 loss by Pittsburgh to Wisconsin in the first round.

That means North Carolina, Virginia, Duke, Notre Dame, Miami (Fla.) and the aforementioned Orange are all still in it with a shot to win the whole thing. Plus, remember that Louisville, another team that would have had Sweet 16 potential, is out of the NCAA Tournament on its own volition.

It’s a pretty remarkable number that the coaches throughout the league are even impressed with.

“I’m really proud of our league,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said following being the fifth ACC team to punch its Sweet 16 ticket. “I think now this league is, with the year this year, it’s playing out to be the best league.”

It’s worth noting that the league has had a relatively easy road to these wins. So far, the league has defeated seeds 7, 9, 9, 11, 11, 12, 13, 14, 14, 15, 16, 16. The best victory of the bunch is Syracuse’s win over Dayton in the first round. It’s something of a slippery slope, given that the league did earn plenty of high seed lines and has ultimately taken care of business with the teams placed in front of them. However, it’s undeniable that the ACC has been helped out by the bracket a touch. Duke got to play No. 12 Yale. Syracuse got the game against Middle Tennessee State. Notre Dame beat Stephen F. Austin in the second round.

Nonetheless though, the level of consistency the league has shown to this point is remarkable, as the league has not just avoided upsets but instead flat out thrived in proving its level of play. And in return of this terrific level of play, the league is going to reap heavy financial benefits over the next six years. CNBC currently values the level of a Sweet 16 payout for a school at $5.2 million, to be distributed evenly among the conference. Multiply that $5.2 million number by six, and you come out to right around $31.2 million, which will go to help college basketball’s most storied league get even richer over the next few years.

Indeed, the ACC has dominated this NCAA Tournament so far. And with teams seeded at No. 1, 1, 3 and 4 remaining, it’s not hard to see a circumstance where it goes even further than it has thus far.

Syracuse's win put the ACC's sixth team in the Sweet 16. (USATSI)
Syracuse’s win put the ACC’s sixth team in the Sweet 16. (USATSI)

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