The general consensus is that the ACC is the best conference in college basketball. In fact, some analysts believe the ACC could threaten the 2011 Big East’s record of sending 11 teams to the NCAA Tournament.
Steve Lappas believes the ACC is the best conference in America, but it might not be leaps and bounds above every other league.
“I do agree with that, but let’s not discount this Big East,” the CBS Sports college basketball analyst said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “They’re going to probably get seven teams of their 10 in. I think there’s a better overall group in the ACC for sure when you think about North Carolina, Duke, Louisville, Florida State – all those teams will be pretty high seeds. But when you look at the ACC and you look at a team like Pitt, you look at some of the wins Pitt has this year and they’re at the bottom of the league. NC State won at Duke. They’re at the bottom of the league. So when you think about top to bottom, there was nobody in the ACC this year that was bad. Everybody had to beware of everybody else.”
Still, it’s difficult to compare the ACC today to the ACC of the 1980s or 1990s – or even the 2000s. The ACC might be the best league in America this year, but some of its heavyweights could still get bounced in the Round of 32.
“But that’s college basketball the way it is today,” Lappas said. “If you want to go back and compare the ACC today to the ACC in the ’90s or the Big East today to the Big East of the 90s, you can’t compare. We have a different frame of reference today because now there’s only one great class in college basketball every year because kids are leaving. In those days, you had four great classes in most programs. Yeah, a guy left here and there, but imagine if you have four classes of Josh Jacksons, four classes of Lonzo Balls, four classes of Malik Monks. College basketball was a lot better back then, but the frame of reference has to be today. Today, when you look at the ACC as it stands, is it the greatest conference of all time? No, of course not. But it’s a tremendous conference when you think (about how) bottom teams in that league – Pitt – has won at Maryland, Pitt beat Virginia, Pitt beat Florida State. Usually you don’t have a bottom team from any league that’s able to beat that quality of competition. That’s all that I’m saying. But this is not the old ACC or the old Big East or the old anything, for that matter.”
Lappas was also asked about Grayson Allen, who received a technical foul for elbowing North Carolina freshman Brandon Robinson in the first half of Duke’s 90-83 loss to North Carolina on Saturday.
Brandon Tierney wondered if the referees handled the situation appropriately. After all, couldn’t they have ejected Allen based on his history of dirty play?
“I don’t think the referees can go by history,” Lappas said. “They got to go by what they see there. That’s how they decided to go about it. The kid obviously has had a lot of issues. I think a lot of it, personally, could have been taken care of had this been nipped in the bud last year. But you know what? I know we’re focusing in on Grayson Allen, but he’s a kid. Kids do dumb things, and that’s why we’re there as adults to stop them, to punish them. But for some reason, he gets so much more publicity, I guess because he’s a Duke kid and because he was supposed to be a player of the year candidate when the year started. But he’s a kid. Kids do dumb things.”