Just to nip this complaint in the bud, let me first start by saying that I have NEVER been one to tout regular season championships or other fictitious titles. When Tom O’Brien and company began touting that NC State was the best football team in the State after defeating UNC, ECU, Wake Forest, and ECU, I thought it was the most self-gratifying display of inferiority I had seen in a long time and was a little embarrassed to see the bookstore selling t-shirts bragging about the imaginary title. Last season, Carolina finished atop the Coastal Division in football, but was forbidden to participate in post-season play. Their solution? Make-up a title that they could brag about, print a bunch of t-shirts, and sell to the “low information voters” in their fan base.
In basketball, a regular season championship has to be lent much more credence than an “In-State Championship” or “Coastal Division ACC Regular Season Champion”, but not by much.
You see, after the loss to UVA, NC State fans are probably more dejected by their slipping chances of claiming the fictitious “Regular Season Champions” title than they are actually losing to Virginia. I’m not taking anything away from the Wahoos (though I did think we handed the game to them on a silver platter and they still almost lost); I’m just saying that State fans really can’t be that upset about an away loss to an ACC team that has beat some decent teams when we had a very ill starting forward and an injured point guard. Coming out of a 7-man rotation, that is damning.
In reality, what does the regular season championship get you? A home-made banner? Who remembers the regular season champions from two years ago? Three years ago? Four years ago? Probably no one besides the team that actually won, and maybe a few sore fans from the #2. What people do remember are ACC Titles. Without looking it up, I can tell you that Florida State won last year’s ACC Title. Before that it was Duke for several years. Before that it was Carolina in ’08. Those are real titles with real trophies, not just media speaking points. The entire season is about (a) developing a strong, well rounded team, (b) evaluating your competition and your good and bad match-ups, (c) positioning yourself for a good seed during the ACC/NCAA tournaments and (d) having fun watching the game. If it weren’t for seeding and tournament selection committees, the regular season would basically be a huge gigantic pre-season to March and April.
It’s important to keep in mind that while there is an amount of bragging that goes with winning the “regular season championship”, those bragging rights only last until tip-off of the ACC tourney, and maybe a little long on internet message boards. The average fan can barely tell you what is going on with their own team and where they are in the conference standings, much less where their opponents stand. Maybe the passionate fans that epitomize NC State can take a lesson from the “average” fans and relax a little. Enjoy the season. If Miami is able to use their seniority to win some tough road games that NC State can’t, it won’t mean a thing if NC State is good enough to bring down the nets in March.