Why do Atlantic Coast Conference supporters like me have the continually unenviable position of being denounced, denigrated and belittled? For that matter, who are these guys anyway?
For some if not most of the badmouthing, we can thank the Big Ten, that ubiquitous conference that we cannot escape now no matter where we live. We get their useless, self-promoting cable channel whether we want it or not. We have to listen to Clark Kellogg whether we want to or not. Forget his effort this year to seem unbiased. His voice is bad enough. And whenever we look for bias we can probably find it. Like the charges that become "terrible calls" when Indiana, Michigan and Michigan State are involved and Kellogg gives us his sage commentary.
The power of the Big Ten is impressive. They are like news agencies that spread false statements. Their biggest falsehood is that they are by far the best conference in the nation. Really? This falsehood is usually gift wrapped with the claim that this is another down year for the ACC. Sure it is.
The history of how this is done is a pathetic mishmash of mistaken judgments based on such nonsense as "strength of schedule," rankings and special analyses that provide such bias, especially against the ACC, that we end up with the UNC Tar Heels treated as trash in Kansas City (yes, that is Missouri, and so what?) against Kansas in the second round. And we end up with no ACC team as a first seed, despite ready evidence that Gonzaga was largely a joke, and that Indiana was extremely vulnerable to any team with mettle. Sure, they beat UNC early in the year by a huge margin. At their home and with a very young and inexperienced team playing. So what?
In the end, ACC fans have to put up with it, and will likely do so next year too.
One has to wonder what it will be like next year or the year thereafter when, as now, at least three teams from the ACC are in the final eight teams left in the tournament with only Michigan and Ohio State standing from the seven Big Ten teams who were treated as royalty in this NCAA, as with most others. Yes, two are not yet in, with Syracuse in the ACC next year and Louisville at least in two years. But so what?
Is the Big Ten great even if we forget who is in what conference?
Will this nonsense end next year? Probably not. Because the NCAA tournament is so easily manipulated by those in sports "news" and those who decide who plays whom, where and when.
This year the Big Ten barely managed to tie the ACC in the ACC - Big Ten Challenge. Next year, the Big Ten will lose the challenge, probably by at least two loses.
But this is no reason for Kellogg and his cohorts to contend that it was just the beginning of the year. Or that the losses of teams in the ACC mean less despite their far tougher strength of schedule, such as UNC's SOC.
Next year, we have Louisville almost in the ACC and Syracuse. Duke will as usual be hanging around during the NCAAs. And UNC will have a much better year.
With all those "great" Big Ten coaches, from Wisconsin's Bo Ryan to Indiana's Tom Crean to Ohio State's Thad Motta to Michigan State's Tom Izzo, ACC coaches out-rank and out do everyone in the Big Ten.
ACC coaches are treated like second class citizens in recent tournaments. Duke is not even mentioned, while the Big Tean is lauded and discussed ad nauseum.
All you have to do is look at their games this year, comparable to the way the Big Ten has been treated every year over the past decade, to realize how "great" you have to be to play in your own backyard.
Indiana, with its suddenly genius coach Tom Crean despite his somewhat incompetent .606 coaching record? Played and won in Big Ten country Dayton and lost in Big East Washington, DC. This is why he is being paid over $3 million?
Ohio State's still underrated Thad Motta has a much better record than Crean and deserves more praise if not more money. The Ohio State Buckeyes played and won in home state Dayton, but his near loss out West was against a very good Arizona team on Pac 12 turf and showed his coaching ability against another very good coach. Yes, he almost lost, and may yet lose in LA.
But let's get real.
Duke has to play Louisville, the two best teams in the tournament facing each other in the final eight rather than Final Four? Do you suppose that the snub of the ACC in not getting two Number 1 seeds in Miami and Duke is based on something other than bias? If Miami had one of its two or three best players Thursday, it would have beaten Marquette.
So now, we have truth weekend. The one that shows who is what and why.
None of the Big Ten's remaining teams will show up as planned. Michigan has to play Florida, which will win in a rout. Ohio State has to play Witchita State, which could also win but probably will not. And we will have two current and/or future ACC teams in the Final Four because Syracuse and Louisville are likely to win.
Of course, the two best teams in the tournament are going against each other in the Midwest Regional. Fair? Of course not. Intentional? Absolutely.
Will anyone be fair next year? We will see.
What we do know is that the Big Ten, which has almost always ended up with a worse record than the ACC in the NCAA Tournament despite its six, seven or eight chances to get its teams into the Final Four, might eventually be considered vastly overrated. Then again, real news as opposed to sporting news can keep the wool over everyone's eyes too. So with their huge PR group including their Big Ten cable partners, is it likely that a realistic assessment will emerge?
Only if former ACC player Jay Bilas' proposal for an objective method of assessing teams is used.