SI.com recently weighed in on the recently completed 2018-2019 college hoops season, giving each major conference team a grade, relative to expectations. Very few squads earned a mark as high as the Seminoles’ A-, even if SI declined to make any mention of the ’Noles in their explanatory comments. Here are the evaluations bestowed upon ACC teams, and the remarks that follow:
Florida State: A-
North Carolina: B
Virginia Tech: B
Boston College: C
NC State: C
Georgia Tech: C-
Wake Forest: D-
Notre Dame: D-
Add a few gold stars to the A-plus that the national champs receive, after Virginia smashed its non-Duke opponents during the regular season and proceeded to draw from an endless well of March magic to win the program’s first national title. The Blue Devils provided the unforgettable show we all expected when it brought in one of the most decorated signing classes ever, but they peaked too early and didn’t play like the No. 1 overall seed during the NCAA tournament. For all the adversity Duke played through during the regular season—from the suffocating media coverage to the injuries that cost three starters (including Zion Williamson) multiple games of action—it showed up in March as healthy as it had been in weeks yet seemed at times like it was starting from scratch. North Carolina showed its ceiling during its regular season sweep of its bitter rival, but the Tar Heels paid for their pace when they were run out of the gym by Auburn’s equally explosive offense in the Sweet 16.
The middle of the conference standings featured a few late fades that piled the late-season pressure on those No. 1 seeds. Louisville and Syracuse proved they could beat anybody, then went one-and-done in the tournament—although the early returns from Chris Mack’s first season indicate the Cardinals have deeper runs in their near future. NC State went from a potential disruptor in the conference race to a listless bubble team, with an inexcusable last-second loss to Georgia Tech in the final week of the regular season (on top of the weakest non-conference schedule in Division I) dooming the Wolfpack’s tournament chances—but not before they beat Clemson in the ACC tournament to ensure the Tigers would finish their slide from the Top 25 to the wrong side of the bubble.
If that last-second tip-in had dropped at Cameron Indoor Stadium to secure what would have been the craziest upset of March, we might be looking back at Wake Forest’s season a little differently. Instead, the Deacs can only hold up that one almost amid a sea of listless blowouts.
Despite that lofty grade, it’s not really surprising that FSU flew under the radar that warranted a mention from SI. The Seminoles were a popular upset pick in round one against Vermont, and again in round two against Murray State, when the ’Noles ran the Racers right out of the gym. But hey, it’s tough to get too upset with an A-.
The only other teams graded by SI to come in above Florida State’s A-, along with the aforementioned Cavaliers:
- Texas Tech: A+
- Michigan State: A
- Purdue: A
- Auburn: A
- LSU: A
- Houston: A
- Wofford: A
FSU, of course, beat Purdue and LSU. Some other grades for teams of note:
- The 2017-2018 national champs, Villanova: B-
- Perennial powerhouse Kansas, like Duke: C
- Florida: B