'ACC Best Player' Bracket Comes Down to State vs. Syracuse

Brett Friedlander

Let's face it, the ACC's "Best Player of the Last 50 Years" bracket isn't actually a competition to determine the league's top performer of the past half century.

Otherwise, Ralph Sampson wouldn't have been eliminated in the second round and Phil Ford would have been seeded significantly higher than Zion Williamson rather than the other way around.

And Maryland's Len Bias would be a No. 1 seed instead of nowhere to be found while half the bracket consists of players that never actually played in the ACC.

In reality, the fictional tournament is nothing more than a popularity contest to determine which ACC fan base is most supportive of its former stars.

So while the competition has only reached the Elite Eight round, the two schools vying for the championship have already been determined.

It's come down to a battle between NC State and Syracuse. 

Just check out the region final lineup, with all four matchups featuring the Wolfpack against the Orange:  

It's Wolfpack's David Thompson against the Orange's Derrick Coleman in the "Brooklyn Region," Rodney Monroe against Syracuse's Billy Owens in the "Washington D.C. Region," Julius Hodge against Dwayne "Pearl" Washington in the "Greensboro Region" and T.J. Warren against Carmelo Anthony in the "Charlotte Region."

Voting in the Greensboro Region ...

And the Charlotte Region has already begun ...

Proof of the subjective nature of this competition came in the Sweet 16 round, when Thompson, universally acknowledge as the greatest player in ACC history by anyone who actually saw him play, had to come from way behind with a late surge of Wolfpack votes to squeak past North Carolina's James Worthy by a 51.2%-48.8% margin.

In that same bracket, Coleman ousted Michael Jordan in a matchup that shouldn't have been a contest had statistical performance actually been a determining factor.

Along those same lines, no one can legitimately argue that Monroe -- as successful as he was -- had a better college career than Christian Laettner. But thanks to the support of Wolfpack Nation, he outpolled the two-time Duke national champion and National Player of the Year.

The final two rounds will be a formality. In this popularity contest, whichever fan base gets its players through the current round of voting will ultimately produce the winner.