NEW YORK — Could Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame officially joining the ACC on Monday have created the best basketball conference in history?
It’s members, new and old, seem to think so.
“It’s more than fair to say that this is the strongest collection of basketball programs that have been assembled in one conference,” ACC commissioner John Swofford said at a welcoming press conference at the NASDAQ stock exchange in Times Square.
Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame became members of the ACC at 12:01 a.m. Monday to push the league membership to 15 teams. With the depth of the league, as many as 2/3rds of those teams could go dancing, Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey said.
“We’ll be the league getting eight, nine, 10 bids annually,” Brey said.
But that number of bids only will happen because of the overall quality of the conference.
“If you get 9 or 10 teams in the tournament, it’s because your league is good. Not because you’re good. Your league has to be good,” Boeheim said. “That’s the key. The better the league is, the more good teams you have, the better chance your program has to have success. That’s really the goal, and I think that’s a goal we’ll reach.”
It seems to be a reasonable goal, given that the three teams that joined on Monday have been consistent entrants into the NCAA tournament in recent years.
Combine that with perennial ACC powers Duke and North Carolina, along with the rise of Miami, and the ACC now boasts the deepest conference in the country.
“I don’t think that’s a stretch at all,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “I think it can be better [than the old Big East]. You’re bringing in four teams that go to the tournament almost every year.”
The fourth team mentioned would be Louisville, the 2013 NCAA tournament champion. They will join the league in 2014.
“[The ACC] was the premier league when I started coaching, before we were even in a league,” Boeheim said. “It has stayed there consistently for 40 years. Now, it’s gotten better.”
It’s also going to create more excitement, especially for Syracuse fans.
Although Georgetown and Connecticut may not be heading to the Carrier Dome on a regular basis, they will be replaced by even more marquee names.
“I think everybody is looking forward to Duke and North Carolina,” Boeheim said. “That will become the great, or a great game that particular year. It’s new and it’s exciting. We’re very proud to be a part of this league.”
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