In the early part of the last decade, while I was an undergraduate, it felt as if the ACC represented the cream of the crop in college basketball. But by the middle of the decade, it became increasingly clear that the Big Ten and (later) the Big East were superior, at least in terms of their NCAA tournament performance. But now that Duke has won the 2010 title, take a look at the last ten champions:
2001: Duke2002: Maryland2003: Syracuse2004: Connecticut2005: UNC2006: Florida2007: Florida2008: Kansas2009: UNC2010: Duke
In the last decade, the ACC has produced more Final Four teams (9) and more champions (5) than any other conference. Perhaps most remarkably, 19 out of the last 23 Final Fours have featured either Duke or UNC. While all this speaks more to the reliable excellence of Duke and UNC than to the overall strength or depth of the conference, it's a good bit of evidence to keep in our back pocket in case we lose the all-important ACC-Big Ten challenge next year.
Go here to see the history of Final Four appearances.