The ACC managed to produce a comic masterpiece that ultimately belittled Duke basketball history.
Since one Ball Durham article a few weeks ago was not sufficient to expose the utter lunacy, here’s another. According to the bracket-style polling from the ACC Men’s Basketball Twitter account that concluded on Wednesday, the Duke basketball program does not boast the best ACC player from the past 50 years; rather, that honor belongs to Syracuse in the form of Big East freshman legend Carmelo Anthony.
We’ll get to that previous sentence’s glaring contradiction in a minute. First, let’s remember that Duke and North Carolina account for 37 of the ACC regular seasons’ first-place finishers since 1970 and 31 of the conference’s tournament champs in that span. Regardless, neither hoops giant saw a single former star make it to the “Final Four” round of voting. No, Syracuse swept that with Anthony and fellow Big East names Dwayne “Pearl” Washington, Derrick Coleman, and Billy Owens.
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In fact, neither a Blue Devil nor a Tar Heel lasted past the “Sweet 16” — not even Christian Laettner, Grant Hill, J.J. Redick, Zion Williamson, Phil Ford, Michael Jordan, James Worthy, or Tyler Hansbrough. No, in addition to the four from Syracuse, the “Elite Eight” featured four N.C. State products: David Thompson, Rodney Monroe, Julius Hodge, and T.J. Warren.
In case there is someone out there who, after reading that, can stop belly-laughing long enough to give a hoot about anything else pertaining to these results, Anthony defeated Coleman in the final matchup. In the process of all this voting, Wolfpack and Orange fans certainly sent a strong message: the ACC is running on empty when it comes to dignity due to a lack of respect for its true narrative.
In fairness to supporters of programs outside of Syracuse and Raleigh, nobody can fault you for paying zero attention to a 64-player tourney that came into existence with three ridiculous rules in place: 1) none of the current 15 member institutions could have more than six former players in the field, 2) all 15 must have at least three, and 3) guys who played during their programs’ pre-ACC days were eligible (accounting for 34 percent of the field).
Had the Duke Men’s Basketball Twitter account taken the contest seriously, it could have campaigned for its 2.2 million followers — more than double that of any other college athletics program — to crown a Blue Devil. Instead, the Duke Twitter folks only chimed in to point out the most ridiculous flaw: “Some really nice players in the Final Four, but none of them played a game of ACC Basketball.”
Even so, “collegiate accomplishments” topped the list for the selection criteria and what voters were supposed to consider the most. Therefore, a Duke basketball hero like Laettner, who went to four real Final Fours and twice cut down actual April nets, should have at least been within reach of this title (Monroe ended Laettner’s brief run in the third round).
Now, we could take a deep dive here into why Laettner was a superior college player to Anthony, Coleman, Washington, Owens, Monroe, Hodge, and Warren. We could argue Laettner should have faced Thompson for the title; we could argue either of those two would be a worthy winner. And we could entertain this comical “Sports Court” clip that ruled Laettner a better NCAA Tournament player than Anthony:
Also, we could compare the accomplishments of the other five Duke basketball treasures who lost along the way to those of the dudes who knocked them out (Hodge beat Redick in the second round, Washington beat Williamson in the second round, Anthony beat Hill in the third round, Anthony beat Shane Battier in the second round, and Virginia Tech’s Dell Curry, who also did not compete in the ACC, beat Johnny Dawkins in the first round).
Maybe we should just report the ACC account’s suspicious activity, allowing the Twitter police to investigate whether said account fell victim to a hack-job from Otto the Orange or simply failed to adhere to the social media platform’s rules on “election integrity.”
Nah, scratch all that. We should just forever recognize the results for comedy’s sake.
So all hail Carmelo Anthony, who needed only one college season to become both the Big East Rookie of the Year and eventual best ACC basketball player of the modern era. Amazeballs.
Yet we all must also now hail Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski, UNC’s now-late Dean Smith, and current Tar Heel leader Roy Williams, who evidently should have combined to win every ACC Coach of the Year award from the past 50 years in light of achieving so much with what was evidently such mediocre talent.
Stay tuned to Ball Durham for more updates, analyses, and opinions regarding all things Duke basketball.