The ACC basketball tournament soon could feature games such as Syracuse-Pittsburgh, and now Notre Dame-Miami.
It will be a strange sight in Greensboro, N.C., but Notre Dame’s announcement it will join the ACC in all sports besides football (and hockey) is part of new normal.
With the news breaking today, there are a handful of questions out there, from when the move will actually occur as well as questions regarding the football schedule and bowl lineup.
For the time being, let’s try to assess what the move might mean for Notre Dame basketball, the ACC and the Big East.
What does this mean for ACC basketball?
The ACC arguably leapfrogged the Big East in basketball prominence by adding a nationally elite program (Syracuse) and a sometimes-elite program (Pittsburgh) a year ago. Notre Dame isn’t in this same category, but the Irish have reached the NCAA Tournament five times in the last six seasons and eight times in a dozen seasons under Mike Brey. Don’t expect many Tournament wins (only two Tournament wins since 2007), but Notre Dame should add to the depth in the middle part of the league.
What does this say for the stability of the Big East and ACC?
From a basketball standpoint, this doesn’t say much more than we already knew, except for deepening the gap between the Big East and the other five BCS automatic-qualifying leagues. Perhaps most notable is the new ACC exit fee of $50 million. Just a year ago, the exit fee was raised to $20 million with the addition of Pitt and Syracuse. The addition of Notre Dame at least as partial member and an increased exit fee makes it less likely teams like Florida State and Clemson would jump ship, as was rumored in recent months. Meanwhile, academics remain a priority for Notre Dame, and the Irish move into a conference with Duke, North Carolina, Virginia and Wake Forest. Including Notre Dame, the ACC has eight of the top 50 colleges, according to U.S. News and World Report. However, one program, North Carolina, is in the midst of an academic scandal. On the other hand, the Big East has one program (Georgetown) in the U.S. News top 50.
Addition of a 15th team begs question: Will there be a 16th?
Fifteen teams may be an awkward number for the ACC in basketball, though not nearly as awkward as it would be for football. The Big Ten, of course, had an odd number of members for nearly 20 years. The Big East had 13 members for five seasons in the late '90s. The ACC could look to another non-football member to round out the lineup, such as Georgetown. And last September, Rutgers and Connecticut were also in communication with the ACC, according to reports. Sources told ESPN’s Brett McMurphy, however, the ACC will stand pat at 15 teams in basketball. The next domino, then, would seem to involve football.
What’s next for the Big East?
The Big East will continue to take a beating from a public perception standpoint with the league losing its fourth big-name program in the last year (five, if you count TCU). However, once Notre Dame leaves and the conference adds Memphis, Temple, UCF, Houston and SMU in 2013-14, the Big East will remain a 17-team league. From a basketball standpoint, Notre Dame’s production shouldn’t be too difficult to replace should the league elect to expand back to 18 members. A team such as Xavier from the Atlantic 10, for example, could be an ideal fit.
By David Fox