Who is the ACC’s Best Team Ever?

Yesterday, I published a post profiling the best teams from each ACC school since 2000, and simulating a tournament amongst them, won by the 2001 Duke Blue Devils.  Today, I’ll take it a step further, with the help of scacchoops.com and whatifsports.com, and name the best team in the history of each school’s program, and simulate an all-time ACC tournament.  Here are the teams representing each school, seeded 1-15.

1. 1982 North Carolina; it was a tough call which team was the Tar Heels’ best, but this is one of the best ever, including Michael Jordan, James Worthy, and Sam Perkins.

2. 1974 NC State; this too is one of the best college teams ever, not just ACC, led by David Thompson and Tommy Burleson.  They ended UCLA’s streak of 7 consecutive national championships.

3. 1992 Duke; the team that won in 2OT against Kentucky in perhaps the greatest basketball game ever played, before beating the Fab Five for the national title, led by Christian Laettner, Bobby Hurley, and Grant Hill.

4. 2003 Syracuse; Carmelo Anthony’s one year in college basketball gave both Syracuse and coach Jim Boeheim their only national titles.

5. 2002 Maryland; the best team at Maryland under Gary Williams, winning the national title without being threatened in the NCAA Tournament.

6. 1983 Virginia; one of a handful of really good teams beaten by NC State during their magical run in 1983, led by Ralph Sampson.

7. 2009 Pittsburgh; a team that might should have won a national title, but was upset in the Elite 8 by Villanova.

8. 1990 Georgia Tech; lost one round earlier in the Tournament that the 2004 Yellow Jackets, but was a better team overall, and lost in the Final Four to eventual winner UNLV.

9. 1995 Wake Forest; part of back-to-back ACC Tournament titles under Dave Odom, led by Tim Duncan, Randolph Childress, and Rusty LaRue.

10. 2013 Miami; won the ACC regular season and Tournament titles, before being upset in the Sweet 16, led by Shane Larkin, son of baseball legend Barry Larkin.

11. 2012 Florida State; this team was better than the 1972 national runners-up at FSU, as Michael Snaer (Mr. Buzzer-Beater) led the Seminoles to their only ACC Tournament title.

12. 2011 Notre Dame; ranked as high as 4th in the nation and finished 2nd in the Big East, before being upset in the NCAA Round of 32.

13. 2006 Boston College; the inaugural ACC season for the Eagles led to a loss in the ACC Tournament title game and an appearance in the Sweet 16.

14. 2007 Virginia Tech; a team that had a knack for big games, beating North Carolina twice and Duke once, earning a 4-seed in the NCAA tournament.

15. 2008 Clemson; nearly ended their Chapel Hill curse, taking the Tar Heels to overtime twice, and reached the ACC Tournament final before losing to Duke.

First Round (1982 North Carolina has a first-round bye)

1995 Wake Forest 74, 1990 Georgia Tech 65 (mild upset)

2006 Boston College 77, 2003 Syracuse 68 (big upset)

2002 Maryland 94, 2011 Notre Dame 86

1974 NC State 94, 2008 Clemson 83

2009 Pittsburgh 82, 2013 Miami 52 (unexpected blowout)

1992 Duke 85, 2007 Virginia Tech 76

1983 Virginia 77, 2012 Florida State 75


1982 North Carolina 79, 1995 Wake Forest 65

2006 Boston College 83, 2002 Maryland 77 (another big upset for the Eagles)

2009 Pittsburgh 88, 1974 NC State 86 (big upset)

1992 Duke 78, 1983 Virginia 61


1982 North Carolina 63, 2006 Boston College 60

2009 Pittsburgh 92, 1992 Duke 75 (another big upset for the Panthers)


2009 Pittsburgh 80, 1982 North Carolina 63 (a third big upset for Pitt)

I know what you’re thinking:  how on earth did that Pittsburgh team beat a good 2013 Miami team by 30 and then defeat 3 national champions in a row?  Well, I’m as surprised as you are.  That is the beauty of college basketball and tournament play:  upsets.  As my grandfather says, if a team gets hot, they can beat anybody.  And by the way, that wasn’t a bad 2009 Pittsburgh team at all.  In the NCAA Tournament that year, I picked Wake Forest to win it all, but I was 14 and had not yet learned not to pick with my heart but with my head.  However, I had been impressed enough with Pittsburgh that year that I had them losing to Wake in the national championship game.  In reality they were upset by Villanova in the Elite 8.

The recollection of teams and research of the best team in each program’s history now has me excited for the college basketball season, which begins on Friday.  While there is certainly somewhat of a lack of marquee matchups, I’m just glad to see college basketball games being played (although I do think the season begins too early, but since there are games, I’ll be watching).


2 thoughts on “Who is the ACC’s Best Team Ever?

  1. Hey what about 1983 NC State? Yes they did over achieve a little bit, but they were still a good team with some very talented players. I’m not saying they are the “greatest ever” but they still deserve being in the top 15. They beat some very good teams – Virginia, Houston… And NC State 1974 would be my #1 (Yes, I’m a little biased). David Thompson is the greatest college player ever! And he was surrounded by other greats – Burleson and Towe. They beat the Dynasty of UCLA ! It would be interesting to see these teams really play though. I wonder if the teams of today could hang with the Thompsons or Jordans of yesterday? Or… maybe players today would be stronger …
    (weight programs, basketball academies)… I don’t know.

  2. Yeah, it would be interesting to see some of these match ups of, say, Thompson vs. Redick or Hansbrough, or even Duke’s freshman Jabari Parker, with my own eyes. As for 1983 NC State, they’re definitely a top 15 team, but I included one team from each school, and naturally 1974 was State’s best team. If I had done a straight up top 15, it would have been more fair to some schools, like State, UNC, Duke, etc., but then Clemson, BC, and Virginia Tech would not have been represented.

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