ACC All-Time Series Part 2

1983: Head coach Jim Valvano of the North Carolina State Wolfpack walks off the court with a player afterwinning a game. (Photo by Focus on Sport via Getty Images)

LWOS ACC All-Time series continues with part two. Part one can be found here with the first five of the 15 teams in the conference. This section will feature some historic college basketball teams.

ACC All-Time Series Part 2

Louisville Cardinals

Best Team: 2012-13

Louisville was loaded in 2012-13. They finished the season 35-5 and won the National Championship. This was the team that suffered through the gruesome Kevin Ware injury. Unfortunately, that crown was stripped away. Regardless, the team had incredible depth and a handful of NBA players. They dominated a strong Big East and never looked back. The 2019-20 Cardinals looked poised to give the 2012-13 team a run for its money.

Best Player: Wes Unseld

Wes Unseld played for Louisville from 1965-68. During this time, he put up insane numbers. Unseld averaged 20.6 points and 18.9 rebounds per game. He was a force to be reckoned with. He would then go on to star for the Washington Bullets and have a nice professional career.

Honorable Mentions: Darrell Griffith, Donovan Mitchell, Pervis Ellison

Best Coach: Denny Crum

The popular choice might be Rick Pitino. However, Pitino’s tenure was covered in scandals. Denny Crum coached Louisville from 1971-2001. In those 30 years, Louisville was ranked in 28 of them. They also made the tournament in 23 of them. Additionally, Crum won two National Championships and made the Final Four five times.

Miami Hurricanes 

Best Team: 2012-13

The 2012-13 Hurricanes went 27-8 and earned a three seed in the NCAA tournament. They were ultimately knocked off in the Sweet 16, which is still the farthest the team has ever gone in March. Two other times they also reached the Sweet 16, including 2012-13 and that is the only other team considered for this honor.

Best Player: Rick Barry

Admittedly, Rick Barry played against weak competition. However, he still averaged 29.8 points and 16.5 rebounds per game for three seasons. He went on to have a solid NBA career, so those numbers hold a little more weight. He was also named an All-American.

Honorable Mentions: Shane Larkin

Best Coach: Jim Larranaga

Jim Larranaga is most known for leading George Mason on a Cinderella run in March. He is also the best coach in Hurricanes history. Larranaga took over in 2011 and is still on the sidelines. He racked up 190 wins for 63 percent winning percentage and earned ACC Coach of the Year three times. The Hurricanes made the tournament five times so far under his control, but they are in a bit of a cold spell. Next year is a big year for them. Interestingly, the Hurricanes have only made the tournament ten times in their history.

North Carolina State Wolfpack 

Best Team: 1973-74

The 1973-74 Wolfpack went 30-1 and capped off their great season with a National Championship. They finished first in the ACC and averaged a ridiculous 90 plus points per game. Ultimately, they enjoyed a nice three year run of great success, mainly because of one player. 

The other team considered was the 1982-83 National Championship team, but they did not have a ton of early success which led to them being a six seed.

Best Player: David Thompson

David Thompson is undoubtedly one of the five best ACC players ever. He played for North Carolina State from 1972-1975, which was at least two of the school’s best seasons. During this time, he averaged 26.8 points and 8.1 rebounds per game as a 6’4 guard. Thompson was a two-time AP Player of the Year, three-time ACC Player of the Year, winner of the Naismith Award, and a three-time All-American.

Honorable Mentions: T.J. Warren

Best Coach: Jim Valvano

This one was tougher than it looks. Jim Valvano coached the Wolfpack from 1980 to 1990. During this time, he won 209 games at a 65 percent clip. He took the Wolfpack to seven NCAA tournaments and had his team ranked in all but his first season. He also won one National Championship and is probably still looking for someone to hug. Norm Sloan should also get some love here, but his success was centered around Thompson, so Valvano gets the slight nod.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Best Team: 1977-78

The 1977-78 Fighting Irish finished their season 23-8 and lost in the Final Four. Notre Dame has not had a ton of great success in basketball. They have made plenty of tournaments, but rarely make it out of the first weekend, and seldom the second weekend. In the modern era, 1977-78 is the only time they did so. Notre Dame lost in the Final Four in a tough game. Another major factor why this team was so talented is the whopping eight NBA players on the roster, led by Bill Laimbeer.

Best Player: Adrian Dantley

Adrian Dantley was a monster on the floor. He played for Notre Dame from 1973-76. During this time, he averaged 25.8 points and 9.8 rebounds. He was also a two-time All-American and a two-time All-Region member. Dantley was part of the early years of Notre Dame’s success.

Honorable Mentions: Austin Carr, Bill Laimbeer, LaPhonso Ellis

Best Coach: Digger Phelps

This is a two-horse race. Phelps takes the cake for a few reasons. He coached in South Bend from 1971-1991. First, Phelps led Notre Dame to the Final Four. In addition to that, he took them to the NCAA tournament 14 out of 20 years. All in total, Phelps won 393 games for a 67 percent winning percentage. The other option is Mike Brey. Brey has won 437 games so far for a 65 percent winning percentage. He just does not have as close to the consistent success Phelps had.

Pittsburgh Panthers

Best Team: 2008-09

The 2008-09 Panthers finished their season 31-5 with a loss in the regional final. They finished second in the Big East but earned a number one seed in the NCAA tournament. This team was part of a five year run of top four seeds in the NCAA tournament. They had some spread out NBA talent, but realistically, they were just one of the better put together college teams.

Best Player: DeJuan Blair

DeJuan Blair was a double-double machine for the Panthers. He played from 2007-09 and racked up solid stats. While he never had flashy games, he was a consistent dominant presence in the paint. He averaged 13.6 points and 10.7 rebounds per game. Ultimately, it was enough to earn All-American honors, as well as Big East Player of the Year, and Big East Rookie of the Year.

Best Coach: Jamie Dixon

Jamie Dixon coached the Panthers from 2003-16. He was outstanding, winning 328 games with a 73 percent winning percentage. He brought them to the Big Dance in 11 of his 13 seasons. They were also ranked every single season except for one. Unfortunately, Dixon left Pittsburgh for his alma mater, TCU.

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