The ACC has kicked butt lately, and it could have even done better.
The Atlantic Coast Conference has been emailing out chest-puffing newsletters the last couple of years, largely because it has a lot to crow about in the two marquee sports, football and mens’ basketball.
The league has won three of the last six national football championships since 2014, when Florida State defeated Auburn in the last Bowl Championship Series title game and since then Clemson has twice beaten Alabama to capture the new College Football Playoff, the latest being a 44-16 blowout of ‘Bama. Clemson began its run of four straight years in the football Final Four by losing the 2016 CFP championship to the Crimson Tide, 45-40, after making 13 more first downs and gaining more total yards in a back-and-forth affair.
In basketball, the ACC has been even more dominant, winning three of the last five NCAA championships by three different schools – Duke in 2015, Carolina in 2017 and Virginia last Monday night. And you could say it is four of the last seven since Louisville won it all in 2013. The Cardinals were headed for the ACC, but not yet a participating member and their title was later vacated by the NCAA.
In fact, Villanova (2016 and 2018) of the Big East is the only other school to win the Final Four in the last five years.
But the ACC also sent two teams to the 2016 Final Four in Houston after Syracuse defeated Virginia to win the Midwest Region. The Tar Heels beat the Orange in the semifinals before losing to Villanova on a buzzer beater only to return and win it all in 2017 for their seventh national championship.
And think about how close Duke has been to making the final weekend of the season after 2015, when the Blue Devils defeated Wisconsin for their fifth NCAA title. The last two years have been particularly painful for Mike Krzyzewski’s teams, which lost on the last possession of regional championship games to Kansas and Michigan State and would have been favored to cut the nets down had they advanced to the Final Four.
So the ACC may not be the richest conference and its football overshadowed by basketball, but you can still call it king of college ball for now.