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Coach K: ACC Is "Best In This Decade"

Photo by Chase Olivieri/The Chronicle

ATLANTA - No one has ever accused Mike Krzyzewski of not sticking up for the ACC's merits, and the Duke head coach's willingness to hype his conference prompted a reporter to ask Krzyzewski about how many teams the ACC should place in the NCAA Tournament Sunday.

As expected, Krzyzewski wasn't shy about voicing his opinion.

"I love the Big Ten, but I can't believe people are saying seven or eight teams and they're not saying nine or 10 teams from our conference," Krzyzewski said. "In our conference, count how many teams have been ranked in the top 10. There are four in the top 10 at some time, and three of them have been No. 1 The Big East has that, but no other conference does.

"This has been our best league in this decade, player-wise and team-wise. There is no easy out in this league."

It's not a surprise that Krzyzewski praised the Big East while defending the ACC. Back in January, before Duke beat Georgetown, Krzyzewski went out of his way to laud the Big East, the home of his good friend Jim Boeheim, and he has told reporters that an early-season battle between Pittsburgh and Connecticut was the best game he had seen this season. (That honor might now be replaced by Syracuse and Connecticut's six-overtime battle Thursday.)

But the strength of the Big East did not preclude Krzyzewski from urging the NCAA Tournament selection committee to not overlook Maryland, a team that many analysts have included in their mock brackets.

"Maryland has played seven games against teams ranked No. 1 at some point this year," he said. "No one has played that kind of schedule. They're 20-13, and five of those 13 losses have come to the No. 1 team in the country at some time this year."

Finally, Krzyzewski asked the media to do a better job promoting the ACC. That's not a surprise, either. Krzyzewski often picks on the press, sometimes in the subtlest of ways, even if this call-out was more explicit.

But it shouldn't be the ACC media's job to influence the selection committee, even if reporters covering other conferences do that, at least in Krzyzewski's opinion.

"I think really, in our area, a lot of it has to do with all of you," he said. "It's how much you write and talk about it. Other conferences do that, other areas of the country do that. Not that you've been bad about it, but we could be better."


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