Item: The ACC will reportedly stage conference games to open the 2019-20 college basketball season.
In a few words; we don’t like it. Of course, the ACC wants to capitalize on next summer’s debut of the linear ACC Network with partner ESPN by squirreling away its prized exclusive content -regular season football, basketball, and men’s lacrosse games, and with hoops going from 18 to 20 regular season games, building logistics and calendar dates have to be considered.
But to do so from a competitive balance standpoint when going from two exhibition games against Div. II opponents to immediately playing, let’s say North Carolina State in the Dome, is a completely different slope to a season, especially when a league loss affects the seeding of the conference tournament and potentially in any given season an NCAA Tournament berth.
Season tipoff tournaments used to begin college hoops campaigns in the 1980s and 90s (Syracuse opened against North Carolina in the 1988 Tipoff Classic), but this century the trickiest Syracuse openers have been against Memphis (loss) at Madison Square Garden in the 2002-03 championship season, home games against Charlotte (loss) the following year, and Siena (win) in 2008, and San Diego State (win) in the 2012 “Battle On the Midway” game in San Diego.
All of the remaining initial games to a season since 2000 have been scheduled against teams that Syracuse would be favored to defeat, or at the minimum allow for a gradual increase in the level of competition, and/or before playing on the road through November.
It will also be interesting to see if an ACC opener becomes a permanent fixture or a one-time schedule quirk with the debut of the TV Network, but moving forward there’s no doubt teams will regularly be playing conference games before New Year’s Day.