ACC ends forgettable season with early NCAA Tournament exit

Full Screen
1 / 7

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Florida State forward RaiQuan Gray (1) and guard Sardaar Calhoun (24) walk off the court after a Sweet 16 game against Michigan in the NCAA men's college basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Sunday, March 28, 2021, in Indianapolis. Michigan won 76-58. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Based on its own lofty standards, the Atlantic Coast Conference had a poor regular season.

Its postseason was even worse.

Florida State and Syracuse were the only ACC teams to make it past the first round, and both lost convincingly in the regional semifinals. ACC teams finished with a 4-7 NCAA Tournament record, marking the league's lowest win total and winning percentage in this event since 1979.

This will mark just the fourth time the ACC hasn’t sent a team to a regional final since the NCAA Tournament went to a 48-team format in 1980 (it’s now a 68-team event). The only other years the ACC was left out of the Elite Eight were 2003, 2014 and 2016.

“I think every conference goes through those periods,” Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said Sunday after the Seminoles’ 76-58 loss to Michigan. “You can’t stay on top forever.”

Hamilton expects the ACC to return to form in short order.

But the league that has won three of the last five national titles – and a total of 11 since 1991 – had to take its lumps this year.

The ACC’s problems started with the uncharacteristic struggles of one of its signature programs. Duke went 13-11, withdrew from the ACC Tournament due to a positive COVID-19 test and ended a string of 29 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances.