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Will The ACC Network Kill Syracuse Basketball Rivalries?

The new network means less Big East games for the Orange.

The ACC and ESPN have agreed to a huge deal which will create the “ACC Network” in 2019. That’s old news if you follow Syracuse sports with any sort of regularity, but a new twist to the story broke earlier today when the ACC announced basketball would move to a 20-game schedule.

So what does this mean for the Syracuse? The ACC is currently on an 18-game conference slate, so two more games obviously means two less non-conference games available for the Orange to schedule and less control SU has over who it plays. But let’s say the two games that get added are a pair of marquee matchups, which could easily happen (the point of this is to make more TV money, of course, and bigger games bring bigger paychecks). So what if Syracuse ends up playing two more games against Duke, North Carolina, Louisville or any of the other ACC powers? The Orange won’t lose its warm-up games since (believe it or not) those are extremely valuable for the growth of the team, and packing the itinerary with powerhouses would push the strength of schedule higher than what the staff wants. So what games get cut off the front end? Possibly, the Big East games Orange fans look forward to every year.

The only non-conference games consistently on Syracuse’s schedule are those against teams from the old Big East. The biggest games probably aren’t going anywhere. Syracuse will find a way to fit Georgetown into the schedule; it has to. St. John’s probably won’t be cut either. It’s an in-state rivalry and if nothing else already has its foot in the door. But Connecticut? Villanova? Where can you fit them in now, and who will fight to keep them there?

When scheduling for 2019 comes around there will be plenty of people trying to make the decisions and work out deals, but one person who won’t be (maybe) is Jim Boeheim. If the legendary coach does decide to hang up the jacket after the 2018 season, the “Keep The Old Big East Alive” campaign will lose its biggest booster. Sure, Mike Hopkins knows the importance of the Big East. Hell, he played in it. But he isn’t Boeheim. He won’t have the pull of the man who was with the Big East from the start.

It’s not all bad, though. Two more ACC games will undoubtedly bring more exciting basketball to the Carrier Dome. There’s a huge chance Syracuse and Duke end up becoming permanent home-away partners, and the ACC Network is going to bring more money and publicity to the university. Syracuse will still play UConn, Villanova and the other Big East teams, too. But it will be a lot less frequently and might turn these matchups into a reunion tour instead of a heated rivalry.

Posted: Nathan Dickinson

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