College basketball season came to an end last week, and fortunately for the ACC, ended with Duke winning the national championship. Duke’s freshman foursome of Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones, Justise Winslow, and Grayson Allen combined for 60 points in the title game, a 68-63 win over fellow one-seed Wisconsin, with Jones winning the Most Outstanding Player Award. The championship was coach Mike Krzyzewski’s fifth, which is the second most all-time, behind only John Wooden, who he also tied this season for most Final Four appearances, with 12.
The rest of the ACC also played well in the NCAA Tournament, with three schools reaching the Elite Eight (Duke, Notre Dame, Louisville), and two more reaching the Sweet 16 (North Carolina, NC State), out of the six who made the field.
Prior to the NCAA Tournament, Notre Dame beat Duke and North Carolina back-to-back nights in Greensboro to take home the ACC Tournament title, their first conference tournament championship in program history.
Here is a look at the ACC, from top to bottom, as we close out the 2014-15 season.
1. Duke (35-4 overall, 15-3 ACC, Last Week: 1st, Coaches Poll: 1st)
ACC Tournament: Semifinals (def. NC State; lost to Notre Dame)
NCAA Tournament: National Champions (def. Robert Morris, San Diego State, Utah, Gonzaga, Michigan State, Wisconsin)
Average Rank: 1.5, High: 1, Low: 2, Preseason: 1
Not only did the Blue Devils end up as the best in the ACC at season’s end, but took home the school’s fifth national title, winning the first championship for the ACC since Duke’s last title in 2010. Okafor, Jones, and Winslow are all leaving early for the NBA, and Quinn Cook is graduating, although Duke has another good recruiting class coming.
2. Notre Dame (32-6, 14-4, 3rd, Poll: 5th)
ACC Tournament: Tournament Champions (def. Miami, Duke, North Carolina)
NCAA Tournament: Elite Eight (def. Northeastern, Butler, Wichita State; lost to Kentucky)
Average Rank: 4.3, High: 2, Low: 9, Preseason: 9
The Irish backed up their ACC Tournament win with an appearance in the Elite Eight, and came one shot away from knocking off then-undefeated Kentucky, in one of the best games of the tournament.
3. Virginia (30-4, 16-2, 2nd, Poll: 8th)
ACC Tournament: Semifinals (def. Florida State; lost to North Carolina)
NCAA Tournament: Round of 32 (def. Belmont; lost to Michigan State)
Average Rank: 2.0, High: 1, Low: 4, Preseason: 4
Although the Cavaliers won another ACC regular season title, there is seemingly a feeling of frustration at the team’s results in the postseason, after an ACC Tournament semifinal loss to North Carolina, and a Round of 32 NCAA Tournament upset loss to Michigan State.
4. Louisville (27-9, 12-6, 4th, Poll: 10th)
ACC Tournament: Quarterfinals (lost to North Carolina)
NCAA Tournament: Elite Eight (def. UC Irvine, Northern Iowa, NC State; lost to Michigan State)
Average Rank: 3.6, High: 2, Low: 5, Preseason: 2
The Cardinals made another deep run into the NCAA Tournament, something Rick Pitino’s team seems to do perennially. While they lost to Michigan State in a great regional final game, they defeated NC State in an ACC flavored Sweet 16 matchup.
5. North Carolina (26-12, 11-7, 5th, Poll: 12th)
ACC Tournament: Runner-up (def. Boston College, Louisville, Virginia; lost to Notre Dame)
NCAA Tournament: Sweet 16 (def. Harvard, Arkansas; lost to Wisconsin)
Average Rank: 4.4, High: 3, Low: 5, Preseason: 3
The Tar Heels made a run to the ACC title game, upsetting Virginia in the process, before reaching the Sweet 16 and losing to eventual national runner-up Wisconsin. With everyone except J.P. Tokoto coming back, this team should be really good next year.
6. NC State (22-14, 10-8, 6th, Poll: 24th)
ACC Tournament: Quarterfinals (def. Pittsburgh; lost to Duke)
NCAA Tournament: Sweet 16 (def. LSU, Villanova; lost to Louisville)
Average Rank: 7.0, High: 6, Low: 11, Preseason: 7
As he seems to do, Mark Gottfried got his team to outplay their expectations in March, beating LSU at the buzzer, before upsetting top-seeded Villanova to reach the Sweet 16 as an 8-seed.
7. Miami (25-13, 10-8, 7th)
ACC Tournament: Quarterfinals (def. Virginia Tech; lost to Notre Dame)
NIT: Second Place (def. NC Central, Alabama, Richmond, Temple; lost to Stanford)
Average Rank: 7.4, High: 4, Low: 11, Preseason: 10
Miami made a nice run in the second-tier postseason tournament, the NIT, losing to Stanford in the final. Every key player will be back next year for Jim Larranaga’s team, meaning they should be an NCAA Tournament team.
8. Florida State (17-16, 8-10, 8th)
ACC Tournament: Quarterfinals (def. Clemson; lost to Virginia)
Average Rank: 10.6, High: 6, Low: 14, Preseason: 6
The Seminoles finished where they were all season, hovering around the .500 mark, but have one of the nation’s best recruiting classes coming in to add to a good young roster. The future is bright in Tallahassee.
9. Syracuse (18-13, 9-9, 9th)
Did not participate in the postseason due to self-imposed ban
Average Rank: 8.0, High: 5, Low: 9, Preseason: 5
The Orange have an interesting few years ahead of them, with recently imposed NCAA sanctions reducing scholarships and suspending coach Jim Boeheim for the first nine conference games next year. Boeheim announced he will retire in three years, so the program is really at a crossroads, as it moves into its future and tries to sustain its level of success from the past.
10. Pittsburgh (19-15, 8-10, 10th)
ACC Tournament: Second Round (lost to NC State)
NIT: First Round (lost to George Washington)
Average Rank: 8.4, High: 6, Low: 11, Preseason: 8
With two weeks left in the regular season, the Panthers were on the NCAA bubble, but lost their last three regular season games, their only ACC Tournament game, and then their first round NIT game. Needless to say, they have a sour taste in their mouth heading into the offseason.
11. Clemson (16-15, 8-10, 11th)
ACC Tournament: Second Round (lost to Florida State)
Average Rank: 10.3, High: 6, Low: 14, Preseason: 13
After reaching the NCAA bubble at one point, the Tigers lost seven out of their last nine, and did not play in any postseason tournament after Greensboro. While the team loses seniors Demarcus Harrison and Rod Hall, it still retains a solid core to move into the future.
12. Boston College (13-19, 4-14, 12th)
ACC Tournament: Second Round (def. Georgia Tech; lost to North Carolina)
Average Rank: 13.6, High: 12, Low: 15, Preseason: 12
The difference in the Eagles at the beginning and at the end of the season was enormous, as the team closed coach Jim Christian’s inaugural came to a positive close with four straight wins before their conference tournament loss to North Carolina. However, Olivier Hanlan is leaving for the NBA, leaving a bigger void on his team than any other single departing player in the ACC leaves on their respective team.
13. Wake Forest (13-19, 5-13, 13th)
ACC Tournament: First Round (lost to Virginia Tech)
Average Rank: 11.8, High: 9, Low: 13, Preseason: 11
The Demon Deacons were more competitive in coach Danny Manning’s first year, losing several close games, including their ACC Tournament loss by a single point to Virginia Tech. The team only loses one key player, and has a top 20 recruiting class coming in, meaning the upward trend should continue in Manning’s second year.
14. Virginia Tech (11-21, 2-16, 14th)
ACC Tournament: Second Round (def. Wake Forest; lost to Miami)
Average Rank: 14.3, High: 13, Low: 15, Preseason: 15
Like Boston College, the improvement from the beginning to the end of Buzz Williams’ first year in Blacksburg was clear, resulting with an opening round win over Wake Forest in Greensboro. The improvement is a great sign for the future, especially considering that the Hokies were one of the youngest teams in the nation this season.
15. Georgia Tech (12-19, 3-15, 15th)
ACC Tournament: First Round (lost to Boston College)
Average Rank: 13.0, High: 10, Low: 15, Preseason: 14
Nothing seemed to go right for the Yellow Jackets, as they 10 of their 15 conference losses were by five points or less or in overtime, as was a one-point loss to Boston College in the ACC Tournament, a microcosm of their season. Administration, however, decided to keep coach Brian Gregory around at least one more year, meaning there is no coaching turnover this offseason in the ACC.