ACC/Big Ten Challenge: Good News or ACC or Bad News For Big Ten

The ACC/Big Ten “Challenge” has been around for 10 years now. A non-conference event that matches up a Big Ten team against an ACC team so see which conference can take home the bragging rights. It’s a bit of a mismatch, as the ACC is typically the deepest conference in college basketball year in and year out. This year however was different. The ACC blew the doors off the Big Ten. This makes us wonder, is the ACC really that good? Or is the Big Ten worse than expected?

The ACC won the challenge 11-3, with the only wins coming from Nebraska, Purdue and Michigan State. Otherwise, it was not close. There were moral victories, sure. Indiana went toe-to-toe with Duke for 35 minutes. It showed us a much different team than the one that gone manhandled by Indiana State at the beginning of the year. However, there were not many other positives to take away from this challenge for the Big Ten.

Minnesota, a favorite in the conference, lost at home, albeit to a good Miami team. Michigan got pounded by a Tar Heel team that was embarrassed by Michigan State a few days prior. Shows the gap between those two rival schools. NCAA Tournament hopeful Northwestern lost to Georgia Tech at the buzzer. Wisconsin managed just 37 points against Virginia’s defense. And the list goes on.

Is the ACC Good? Is the Big Ten Bad?

Such a lopsided result poses the question: Is the ACC that good, or is the Big Ten that bad? We knew the Big Ten was top heavy. Michigan State is a title contender, and Purdue and Minnesota are expected tournament teams. Outside that though, there are major question marks that were not answered. Michigan did not look capable of competing with top teams, Northwestern suffered its third non-conference loss, and Illinois lost to a struggling Wake Forest team. There’s not much to take away.

Don’t get me wrong, the ACC is tough. Duke, UNC, Notre Dame, Miami are VERY good. They will all sit around the top 15 much of the year, as will Lousiville. We learned Syracuse is more real than we thought, thanks to the emergence of Frank Howard. Virginia is Virginia, and their defense will have them dancing again. But outside them, who else is legit? Clemson, Florida State, Virginia Tech are not locks by any means. Wake Forest has had major struggles and Georgia Tech is still a question mark with their suspensions.

It’s not expected for the Big Ten to win this challenge. I’m not sure any conference can beat the ACC in this challenge. But the Big Ten’s inability to keep it close at all, shows there are major weaknesses in the conference. It’s possible we only see three, maybe four teams make the big dance come Selection Sunday. 

Why The NCAA Should Stop Expanding the Tournament

The NCAA Tournament is Fine the Way it is

March Madness is widely regarded as the best and most exciting playoff system in sports. That being said, why would anyone want to change it?

Two of the reasons I have seen are: it will help save coaches’ jobs, and allow more Division 1 athletes to get the full NCAA experience while increasing revenue for the NCAA. Frankly, both of these reasons seems to be, in my opinion, a cop-out.

Let’s start with the coaches. If you’re expected to lead your team to the NCAA tournament and fail to make the cut for several years, you are right to lose your job. Furthermore, simply expanding upon the field does not truly make you a better coach or improve your team. It simply makes you the beneficiary of a more advantageous system.

As for players getting the “full experience,” I would argue that not all players are created equal. It seems too utopian that the NCAA wants to reward more players by giving out bids. But when you start handing out more bids, what does that say about the meaningfulness of those bids? I think the quality of the tournament is already compromised by guaranteeing every team who wins their conference a bid. However, this is where all the great upsets in March come from so it is a trade-off that is well worth it. Adding more average-to-below-average competitors will do nothing but water down the competition.

What it’s really about is the money. You cannot argue that adding teams to the tournament would be more lucrative for the NCAA. More teams equals more games; more games equals more money. It’s simple math. Yet as sports fans, there is nothing we hate more than seeing teams and leagues sell out. It brings down the quality of the product 99% of the time and detracts from the entire reason we watch the sport to begin with. The NCAA is supposed to be a non-profit, so if they’re driven by the bottom line, isn’t that an indictment of the character of those in charge? We all love the NCAA Tournament, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Jenkins, Arcidiacono Create National Championship To Remember

Villanova National Champs

After Saturday’s Final Four games left a lot to be desired, with Oklahoma failing to produce and Syracuse being clearly outmatched, there was a lot of pressure on Monday night’s National Championship to put on a show; it did. UNC Senior Marcus Paige put on a performance in the final three minutes that was worthy of talking about for years to come. After three minutes of brilliance however, Paige’s one shining moment slipped through his hands in a matter of four seconds. Instead, it was Kris Jenkins, and the Villanova Wildcats, who cemented themselves in NCAA history.

You have probably seen the clip 500 times already: 4.7 second left, Villanova in-bounding the ball under their basket. Senior Ryan Arcidiacono, who had done nothing but make plays all tournament, took the ball up the floor, and made one more play to seal his legacy. Arcidiacono crossed half court, drew two defenders, and dished back to his teammate Jenkins, who drilled a three with no time left to give the Wildcats their first championship since 1985.

Jenkins, who now will forever be mentioned in the same breath as guys like Christian Laettner and Lorenzo Charles, has always had the clutch factor. One big reason why is his overwhelming confidence. “I think every shot’s going in,” he told ESPN.com. This one was no different.

It was only fitting that the shot used to drive a dagger through the heart of Tarheel fans was a three. Villanova set a school record this tournament for three-point field goal percentage in a game when they shot 67% from behind the arc against Miami; Jenkins led all shooters, tallying 21 points and shooting 80% from the field. The ‘Cats also had the highest team shooting percentage in a NCAA tournament in the past 50 years.

Not to be overlooked though, was the play made by Villanova’s leader. Having already scored 16 points on a cool six of nine shooting, all eyes were on Arch to take the final shot of regulation. The script was set: senior leader, averaging 19 points per game in the tournament, ball in his hands to take the final shot and ride off into the sunset. Instead, he did what he has done all tournament, not force the issue, and make the right play at the right time. It was a play they practice everyday, executed to perfection.

Ryan Arcidiacono showing off at Hoop Group Elite Camp as a junior in high school

Ryan Arcidiacono showing off at Hoop Group Elite Camp as a junior in high school

Five years ago, Arcidiacono sat at the Providence Jam Fest, just a high school point guard committed to Villanova University. He was eager to add to the school’s winning tradition and join their list of great point guards. “It’s just a great fit for me, the guard play and the tradition of Randy Foye, Kyle Lowry, Mike Nardi….I’m just hoping to bring a winning attitude and help the team win as many games as possible.”

Villanova has won 117 games in the last four seasons, three regular season Big East Championships, one Big East Tournament Title, and one National Championship. Mission accomplished.

Fast Facts:
-12 of the 14 players on Villanova’s roster are Hoop Group alumni. They accounted for 73 of the 77 Wildcat points.
-Final Four MOP Ryan Arcidiacano was a Hoop Group Elite attendee and Hoop Group Jam Fest champion.
-Senior center Daniel Ochefu was an MOP of Hoop Group Elite Camp
Josh Hart was the MVP of the Underclassmen Game at Elite Camp in 2011
Phil Booth, who led Villanova with 20 points last night, was a Southern Jam Fest participant with Team Takeover
-Mr. Big Shot, Kris Jenkins, made his mark early at both Hoop Group Elite Camp and the Pittsburgh Jam Fest
-Asssitant coaches Ashley Howard, Kyle Neptune and Student-Athlete Development coach Mike Nardi are all Hoop Group alumni. Howard was a full-time employee, while Neptune and Nardi worked and attended camp respectively.
-Lastly, head coach Jay Wright instructed at both Pocono and Eastern Invitational, now Hoop Group Skills and Hoop Group Elite Camp. He is also a very active recruiter at Hoop Group events throughout the year.

Jay Wright instructing at Eastern Invitational Camp, now Hoop Group Elite. Coach Wright has also spoken at Pocono Invitational, now Hoop Group Skills.

Jay Wright instructing at Eastern Invitational Camp, now Hoop Group Elite. Coach Wright has also spoken at Pocono Invitational, now Hoop Group Skills.

Congratulations to the Villanova Wildcats. The 2016 NCAA National Champions!

Social Media’s March Madness Winner

Tom-Izzo-cutting-down-the-nets

As famous as Selection Sunday has become in America, the day that follows is almost just as popular. Coined by some as “Bracket Monday,” the day following Selection Sunday is filled with over-analyzing college basketball seasons and thousands brackets filled out across the country. In what is looked upon as one of the most open pools in recent years, it appears as if anyone can put together a six game winning streak and make a run to the championship.

On Monday, we took to social media to see who our followers thought would be crowned champions in early April. Here’s what we found:

Teams Receiving One Vote:

i IonaGaels Oregon-O-logo Yale_Bulldogs_Logo Holy_Cross_Crusaders.svg Providence_Friars_logo.svg Uconn_Huskies_logo2013 UALRTrojans

westvirginiamountaineers

XavierMusketeers Texas_Longhorns_Logo Miami_Hurricanes_logo.svg 2000px-Michigan_Wolverines_Logo.svg Virginia_Cavaliers_sabre.svg

 

 

 

Teams Receiving Two Votes:

Indiana_University_(Athletics)_logoOklahoma_Sooners_logoSeton_Hall_Pirates_Logo.svg

 

 

Teams Receiving Three Votes: 

Villanova_Wildcats_Logo.svg Kentucky_Wildcats_2005_logo

 

 

Runner Ups (9 votes each):

University_of_Kansas_Jayhawk_logo.svg UNC-TARHEELS-LOGO-psd12408

 

 

NCAA Champions, according to Social Media (10 votes):

 

Michigan_State_Spartans

It’s hard to hard to bet against a Tom Izzo coached Michigan State team in March, and it appears our followers are smart enough to know so. Izzo has led the Spartans to seven Final Four appearances in 19 NCAA bids, including one last season in Indianapolis. Will the Spartans win the extra two games it could not last year? Or will one of these other teams knock them off in the process. Only time will tell. One thing is for sure though, it should be another exciting three weeks! Let the madness begin…