On July 1st, the ACC officially became a 15 team conference. Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame moved from the old Big East to join the ACC. Syracuse and Pittsburgh joined for all sports, while Notre Dame remained independent for football. The new members will have a huge impact on the ACC, but the biggest one is the emergence of the ACC as one of, if not the, top basketball conferences in the country.
All three schools joining the ACC this season made the NCAA basketball tournament last season and look prime to make it again. Along with Louisville coming in another year, these teams make the ACC a basketball powerhouse. Coach K was quoted to say, “We’re going to be a 10-bid conference. We’re going to be the best conference in the history of the game. It’s exciting to be a part of that.” This may be an exaggeration, but the ACC will be much improved next season.
Syracuse will likely have the biggest impact on the ACC from a basketball standpoint. They made it to the Final Four last season, and are a constant threat with Jim Boeheim and his patented 2-3 defense. Syracuse is almost always a contender and helps infuse the ACC into New York. Syracuse’s inclusion helped open the door to a conference tournament in Madison Square Garden, which will help spread the ACC’s influence across all of the east coast. Syracuse will adds a great team to the ACC while also helping spread the popularity of the ACC into the northeast.
Pittsburgh and Notre Dame are both colleges who has been consistently been in the NCAA tournament for the recent years. Unfortunately, they have not experienced the same tournament success as Syracuse. Pittsburgh and Notre Dame may not add another Final Four to the ACC, but they make it a more competitive conference. They will not be as impactful as Syracuse on the ACC, but they both have consistently competitive basketball teams that will increase the overall strength of the conference.
Even after adding three great colleges, the ACC will change again next year. The defending basketball National Champion Louisville Cardinals will replace Maryland, who moves to the Big Ten. Louisville will be another huge addition as another yearly championship contender. The other schools strengthen the conference, but the inclusion of Louisville is a huge addition. They will join Duke, UNC and Syracuse that will be tournament teams on a yearly basis and give the ACC a great chance of bringing home the National Championship. With four teams with the history and current success in basketball of Duke, UNC, Louisville, and Syracuse, the ACC will become a historically great conference.
After Louisville joins the ACC next season, look for the ACC to become the primer conference for college basketball. In a time where conferences have and will continue to change dramatically, the ACC will look to stand as a holding ground for other conferences to model themselves after. This is very good for Duke, as it provides them stability for years to come. Many people have criticized conference realignment, including Coach K, but it has seemed to worked in Duke’s favor. Duke and their beloved ACC looks to be safe and flourishing for the near future.