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The ACC hopes that the success in March Madness will lead to more NCAA Tournament invitations

N.C. State's unexpected presence in the Final Four came after an incredible run through the ACC Tournament, which was necessary for them to qualify for the NCAA Tournament.

N.C. State's unexpected appearance in the Final Four comes after a miraculous run in the ACC Tournament to qualify for the NCAA Tournament.

But it's not surprising to see the ACC here considering recent history.

The ACC has been going through changes with the retirement of influential coaches, and its reputation has suffered. However, despite this, the league keeps winning in March Madness, challenging the negative perception and trying to increase the number of tournament invitations.

ACC commissioner Jim Phillips stated that the national perception of the league's men's basketball success is inaccurate and doesn't match reality. The league has been performing well in the NCAA Tournament, contradicting the recent negative narrative.

Despite only receiving five NCAA bids for the third year in a row, the 15-team ACC has had a strong postseason.

Since 2015, six different ACC teams, including Duke, North Carolina, and Virginia, have reached the Final Four, with a total of 10 different teams making it to at least one Elite Eight. The ACC has also made 31 Sweet 16 appearances and 19 Elite Eights, surpassing other major leagues like the Big 12, Big East, and Big Ten.

This year's ACC teams have a combined tournament record of 12-4 (.750), putting them ahead of other leagues with four teams in the Sweet 16 and three in the Elite Eight.

Despite its success, the ACC has not ranked higher than fifth in KenPom's efficiency rankings since the 2020-21 season.

Clemson coach Brad Brownell believes that the diverse playing styles within the ACC have prepared its teams well for March Madness. Forward P.J. Hall expressed frustration at the lack of respect for the ACC throughout the year, despite the league's strong performance in the NCAAs.

N.C. State forward Ben Middlebrooks has also heard criticism of the ACC. He previously played for Clemson and is now part of the ACC's latest Final Four appearance after a successful March.

Middlebrooks acknowledged the criticism of the ACC in recent years but emphasized that the league has proven itself in this year's tournament.

The ACC now aims to improve the fortunes of teams like Pitt, which missed out on the NCAA Tournament despite a strong finish to the season and wins against Duke, Virginia, and N.C. State.

Phillips mentioned that the ACC has an internal committee evaluating its basketball status. The committee is led by Bubba Cunningham of North Carolina and includes Bernard Muir, who is joining the ACC this summer with Stanford.

Phillips stated that the conference is preparing to come up with new tactics to change the story, as there is currently a big gap in perception.

One of the concrete ideas Phillips brought up is the potential to go back to an 18-game league schedule instead of the current 20-game schedule, which resulted in 15 more losses for ACC teams.

Out of the top six leagues, the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, and Pac-12 have 20-game schedules, while the Big 12 and SEC play 18 games.

Phillips has laid the groundwork with ESPN to communicate that they will approach them after conducting an analysis to address the issue of not getting as many NCAA teams as they believe they should and may make a request to them.

In a hypothetical situation like that, the league would need to find quality nonconference matchups to make up for the lost TV opportunities and potentially improve their postseason resumes.

Phillips also mentioned advocating for the selection committee to take into account past accomplishments of a league when deciding which teams receive the final 10 or so at-large bids, as the historical strength of a league is not currently considered in the bid evaluation process.

According to Phillips, there are many strong conferences out there, and the point is not to claim that they are the only ones with a strong end-of-season performance, but to emphasize that playing in the ACC is distinct from playing in another conference.

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