After grinding it out against two conference foes that will likely not be headed to the Big Dance in the conference tournament, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski stuck up for his league's tournament resume.
Following his team's 75-67 win against N.C. State in the ACC tournament semifinals, Krzyzewski told Wolfpack head coach Mark Gottfried that he hopes his team gets into this year's tournament. Krzyzewski contended that N.C. State's 21-13 record and body of work should be enough to warrant the Wolfpack a trip to March Madness.
"They won at Tennessee," Krzyzewski said. "They probably should have beaten Syracuse twice. I think they’ve played a really good schedule, and they’ve got one of the best players in the country."
Although he likely won't be seeing the Wolfpack again until next season, Krzyzewski said that the team's resurgence could have resulted in N.C. State making some noise in the NCAA tournament.
"They'd be a tough out," he said. "I wouldn't want to play them in the NCAA tournament."
Krzyzewski also made cases for Florida State and Clemson to make the NCAA tournament, comparing the quality of the ACC to a smaller conference like the Atlantic 10, which could exceed the ACC's bid total this season.
"I’ll get in trouble probably for saying it," Krzyzewski said. "Like the Atlantic 10, they’re a really good conference. I hear people saying there are six teams in there. Come on. I mean, they’re good, but put them in our conference and go through the meat grinder that our conference has to go through."
As for the reason behind this supposed national confusion, Krzyzewski pointed to the lack of a quantitative system to measure the strength of a conference against another.
This is not the first case Krzyzewski has made to get the ACC more bids into this year's NCAA tournament field. During the final weeks of the regular season, Krzyzewski said multiple times in postgame press conferences that he believed the conference deserved seven or eight bids this season, as opposed to the four or five that resident bracketologists have projected.
"Our league should get more respect," Krzyzewski said after his team's win against the Wolfpack. "The fact that Pitt comes in here and people are saying they have to do something, come on. Come on, man. I don’t get it."