Amidst an era where anything and everything can happen regarding conference realignment, college hoops’ role in it all often flies under the radar. In the wake of Florida State’s recent lawsuit against the ACC, rumors have been flying about the Seminoles, among other ACC powers, relocating. The talk around realignment has centered around the gridiron, but with conference play kicking into gear over the next few days on the hardwood, the ACC’s status in basketball, on both the men’s and women’s side, should play a major role (that doesn’t mean it will unfortunately).
Beginning on the women’s side, there is a strong argument to be made that the ACC is easily the sport’s best. The conference boasts six top 25 teams in NC State, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Louisville, Florida State, and North Carolina. In addition to them, Syracuse is right on the outside looking in, Miami made a run to the Elite 8 last year, and Duke is historically really good despite this being a down year. And it should only grow stronger next year with historical powerhouse and current top-10 team Stanford set to join the group. Women’s college basketball is one of the most rapidly growing sports in the country right now, and the ACC is among the best of the best.
On the men’s side, you could certainly argue that the conference has lost its luster lately. The ACC used to be the undisputed best conference in men’s college basketball, today the Big 12 or Big 10 might have a thing or two to say about that. Even still, blue bloods like Duke and North Carolina (and yes, of course Syracuse) are a big talking point. Outside of those three, you have historical schools like Wake Forest and Louisville and some newer blood in the sport like Miami and Virginia. Who knows if ACC Men’s Basketball will ever be what it was, but it still holds a special place in college basketball lore.
For as awesome as both men’s and women’s college basketball are, unfortunately everything appears to revolve around football. When Syracuse bolted the Big East for the ACC, it most certainly was not basketball that motivated the conference move. It was longevity on the gridiron. The recent lawsuit involving Florida State and the ACC stems directly from the Seminoles being the first undefeated Power Five conference championship-winning team to be excluded from the College FOOTBALL Playoff. The old Big East was, and still is, some of the best college basketball we’ve ever seen. Why did it disband? Football. That’s the sad reality for die-hard hoops fans.
To answer the question, the ACC sits very well among the rest of college basketball. But unfortunately, that may not matter. Let’s hope for some great conference play on both the men’s and women’s sides. Who knows how much it will do, but it may hopefully save college athletics from an even bigger change than what we’ve already seen.