Before his first ACC tournament as head coach of North Carolina in 2004, Roy Williams infamously called it a “cocktail party” and “just something we do between the regular-season and NCAA tournament.”
He often has said he feels that the totality of the regular season tells more about a team than the conference tourney results do -- and does more to prepare it for the NCAAs.
And the numbers in a Wall Street Journal story today back that up. According to reporter Ben Cohen:
In the last 10 years, there have been 74 instances in which a conference has been represented by two distinct champions: a regular-season winner and a conference-tournament winner. Teams that were better over the long haul — that is, the regular-season champions — won 66% of their NCAA tournament games. Those that didn't take their league but got hot in March won at a 57% clip in the NCAA tournament.
Since 2002, according to the story, ACC regular-season champs have won 27 games, while ACC tourney champs have won 11 games.
UNC’s two national titles under Williams (in 2005 and 2009) came during seasons in which they won the ACC regular-season title, but lost in the ACC tournament.
With five games left in this regular season, the seventh-ranked Tar Heels are in a three-way tie for first place in the league with Duke and Florida State.
Follow Robbi Pickeral on Twitter at @bylinerp.