ACC absolutely destroys pre-NCAA Tournament narrative while fans troll the "experts"

North Carolina, Duke, Clemson, and North Carolina State put together a nice run for the ACC in the NCAA Tournament despite most experts not giving the conference credit all season long. NC State's magical run is far from done.
NC State v Duke
NC State v Duke / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages

Leading into the NCAA Tournament, the ACC got a bad rap in men's basketball. All the "experts'' had the conference not getting many teams outside of Duke and North Carolina, while Clemson was all but safe in the field most of the season, but some questioned whether or not the Tigers belonged.

CBS Sports writer Jon Rothstein tweeted back in late January after Duke beat Clemson that the ACC might have been going to be just a two-bid league.

Shortly after that social media post, Rothstein doubled down with this on CBS Sports Network that the Mountain West was one of the best leagues, better than the Pac-12 and the ACC.

The narrative that the ACC was not one of the top league's in the country and was not going to get as many teams as a lot of people thought was not just Rothstein, it was also Joe Lunardi of ESPN. Throughout the season, he had the assumption that the conference was on a decline and it was never more evident than with his bracetology each day and week. He had the conference just a three bid league most of the season with Wake Forest, Pittsburgh, and Virginia hanging around his last four in, first four out and next four out. ACC fans knew better than to think the conference was just a two-bid league and when it comes to the NCAA Tournament, the conference has been one of the better ones when it starts.

That ended up being the case again this season.

ACC's NCAA Tournament teams destroyed the pre-tournament narrative of the conference

In the end, the ACC got five teams, Virginia ended up playing in the First Four and was beaten by Colorado State, and four of them played very well. How well? All four teams, North Carolina, Duke, Clemson, and North Carolina State all got to the Sweet 16. It didn't stop there, Duke, Clemson, and NC State all reached the Elite Eight. Who had on their bingo card UNC being the first of the four to be eliminated? Not many.

The biggest story was not Clemson being a six-seed making the Elite Eight or Duke taking down top-seeded Houston in the Sweet 16, but the improbable run of NC State. The Wolfpack entered the ACC Tournament two weeks earlier needing to win the tournament to get into the 68-team field. They went on a five-day run that saw them beat Louisville, Syracuse, Duke, Virginia, and North Carolina to win the tourney. They had to beat Louisville with a late basket, before banking in a 3-pointer at the buzzer at the end of regulation to force overtime against Virginia. Before the Sweet 16, Lunardi stopped to comment on the conference.

After NC State beat Marquette in the Sweet 16, fans reacted to Rothstein's about NC State's run and fans reminded him about his season-long opinion of the ACC.

Seth Davis, Rothstein, and Lunardi all had the same opinion about the ACC and the pre-tournament narrative that the conference was just a two or three-bid league. Should Virginia have been in the First Four? No, Wake Forest or Pittsburgh would have been a better option and likely would have put up a much better fight than the Cavaliers did. Even Mark Packer of ACC PM chimed in after Duke took down Houston with Davis.

For a conference that was on the verge of "being a two-bid conference," the ACC had three teams in the Elite Eight and one in the Final Four this weekend in Phoenix. Followers of the conference know how good it is year in and year out whether it be the regular season or the postseason. The most teams from one conference in the Elite Eight was not a fluke, trust me.

Clemson's Cinderella run came to an end in the Elite Eight against Alabama and Duke's run came to an end against the conference's other Cinderella NC State.

The conference went 12-4 through the first four rounds. The Wolfpack will be in the Final Four with Connecticut, Purdue, and Alabama, but the ACC showed the last two weeks that it was a better conference than the "experts" thought throughout the season.