Posted: 1:19 a.m. Saturday, March 16, 2013
In New York, three of the four soon-to-be-ACC teams – Syracuse, Notre Dame and Louisville – were still alive Friday. Syracuse beat Georgetown in a nice swansong for that rivalry, while Louisville knocked off Notre Dame.
Syracuse and the ‘Ville will square off Saturday night for their final crack at a Big East title.
Virtually ignored in the Big East restructuring? UConn.
The Huskies were forced to sit out the post-season this year by the NCAA so consequentially, they’re home in Storrs, or perhaps some in the stands, and can only watch the final show.
That’s pretty harsh when you think about it.
As John Swofford said the other day, when the New Four join, the competition is likely to be brutal. Let’s just consider who’s involved now. We’ll put it into two tiers:
A. Duke, UNC, Syracuse, Louisville, Pitt, Notre Dame, State and Virginia.
B. Florida State, BC, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, Clemson and Virginia Tech.
You could arguably flip Florida State and Virginia or maybe move FSU to the first tier since they’ve been consistently tough lately, this year aside.
Still, everyone is saying “when they arrive..” as if that’s going to be the defining thing for the ACC. But it’s not.
We’re seeing the defining thing this weekend. With Coach K, Roy Williams and Leonard Hamilton the only longterm coaches, the other programs are being reborn before our eyes. Just consider:
It’ll be interesting to see, for instance, how Syracuse adapts to road trips in the ACC. Jim Boeheim is famous for being a bit of a crank and popping off undiplomatically. That won’t go over well at, say, Clemson or Wake Forest or Virginia Tech, where good manners are appreciated and expected. It might not be enough to push the home team to victory, but Boeheim, Rick Pitino and Jamie Dixon are entering new territory: smaller southern towns, more intimate arenas and a totally different sensibility (Mike Brey already knows the ACC ropes). You can curse each other in New York and have lunch later. If you treat people shabbily in traditional ACC towns, they’ll be waiting to pay you back.
Boeheim seemed to grasp this on one level after he compared Greensboro to New York and found the Gate City lacking. He quickly came back and apologized.
There’s no doubt the New Four can compete at very high levels indeed; what remains to be seen is how quickly they come to understand the conference culture.