USA TODAY -- Tobacco Road hasn't seen a springtime drought like this in more than three decades.
For the first time since 1979, the ACC's Big Four — Duke, North Carolina, North Carolina State and Wake Forest — won't have a participant in the Sweet 16. If not for Virginia's win over Memphis on Sunday night, the entire ACC, even with new additions Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame, would have been out before the Sweet 16 for the first time since '79 too.
Third-seeded Duke was upset by Mercer in the second round. North Carolina State won a play-in game, but collapsed down the stretch against St. Louis and was ousted the same night as the Blue Devils. North Carolina lost in the final seconds on Sunday to Iowa State.
Though the 1979 stat is eye opening, this one is even more mind-boggling: It's only the second time since 1979 that both Duke and Carolina have missed the Sweet 16. The other time was in 1996 when eighth-seeded Duke lost to Eastern Michigan in the first round and No. 6 seed North Carolina dropped a second-round game to Texas Tech. (Tim Duncan and Wake Forest were the lone Big Four representatives in the Sweet 16 that season.)
Essentially, this is a "Duke/UNC" stat, with Wake Forest binding the first 16 years and the last 16 years. (N.C. State was never the sole Big Four team in a Sweet 16.)
There weren't many close calls before '96, as Dean Smith's UNC teams made the Sweet 16 in every year between 1981 and 1993. Duke made the Sweet 16 in 1980.
In 1979, both Duke and Carolina lost their opening-round games (which were second rounders because of the tourney's smaller field). Wake and State didn't make the tournament.