The ACC’s New World Order
Earlier this year, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim answered a question about how it felt to be a part of what might be the best basketball conference in history. To which he replied, “We already were.” Referring, of course, to the Big East in its former configuration.
Now this correspondent is an old-school ACC guy, so naturally I bristled a little. As did many of us.
And the thought crossed my mind, “wait until he gets into the conference schedule for real…”
Then he and his Orange ballers did exactly that, along with Pittsburgh and Notre Dame. And as of this writing, I can see nothing to refute his statement. The ACC is upside-down.
OK, we all expected Syracuse to compete. But 17-0? With a win over the Tar Heels already?
And let’s see, who else is 4-0 in the conference? Pitt, you say?
Notre Dame is struggling a bit at 1-2, so there is that, but nobody expected the Irish to vaunt to the top anyway.
What about the (former?) Big Two? Well, Duke is 2-2 with losses to the other newcomer, Notre Dame, and Clemson. UNC is beside themselves at 0-3. They did beat Kentucky non-conference, but that is about all they have to brag about at this point. And believe me, Tar Heel fans do like to brag.
My own favorite, the Wolfpack, is actually doing a bit better than last year. But one of their two losses was a thumping at the hands of the Pitt Panthers.
There is no doubt that the ACC has been a dominant basketball conference for many years. But were we as strong as we thought? Or is Boeheim right about the old Big East?
Of course, there is still time for this all to change. While it is pretty clear Syracuse can expect to win the regular season title, they may not breeze through undefeated. Duke and Carolina could rebound, even manage to beat the BEast refugees at some point. My Pack is not likely to contend, but finishing in the top half of the league would be a welcome change and could still happen.
And, hey, Pitt and Syracuse play Saturday. Somebody has to lose.
I do think it’s a weird season that may not necessarily be a sign of things to come. I think we can always expect Syracuse to contend, and Pitt and Notre Dame to be solid every season, but Duke and North Carolina are struggling for very different, and somewhat strange reasons. Both teams are suffering from the product of their own success. They’re expected to be Top-10 every year, and they’ve been expected to carry the conference for decades. But now they’ve been hit by transfers, young players, one-and-dones and aging (yet still effective) coaches. They’re programs in transition.
I think this year is really the breaking point for everything that’s been going on at North Carolina- early departures to the NBA (Reggie Bullock, Kendall Marshall and Harrison Barnes would all be on this team), transfers (the effect of Larry Drew and the Wear Twins is still being felt recruiting-wise and on the depth chart) and scandal (PJ Hairston and Leslie McDonald).The team is young, and I think Roy is doing the best with what he has. They may rebound yet. But it’s been a perfect storm in many different ways. Imagine the following team, which could very well have happened, and try to think that they wouldn’t be top-5-
PG- Kendall Marshall (now setting records with the Lakers)
SG- Reggie Bullock (left for the NBA to provide for his child)
SG- PJ Hairston (kicked out, has entered the D-League)
SF- Harrison Barnes (a solid role player on a playoff team)
PF- James Michael McAdoo (is being asked to do too much)
With guys like Marcus Paige, Leslie McDonald, Brice Johnson, Kennedy Meeks and JP Tokoto coming off the bench, that’s a title contending team right there. But as fate had it, that’s not the personnel that Roy has to work with this year.
Happens everywhere. Think MCW (likely ROY), Dion Waiters (top 5 rookie team last year) and Fab Melo. Say what you want about his NBA career (If you want to call it that), but he was the Big East defensive player of the year. Just what Cuse needs from the Pivot.
Sounds like someone hadn’t been paying any attention to the Big East the last 10 years. During that span the Big East had always been at least as good as the ACC. I don’t know why two of the top teams from that time period in the Big East would be picked to struggle in the ACC. It’s not like it’s jumping from the D League to the NBA. It was no more than a lateral move. The ACC is definitely pretty bad this year it seems. As a Pitt fan, I didn’t think that much of our team this year, but I assumed we would at least finish in the top half of the ACC. We seemed to be eased into the ACC basketball schedule compared to opening the football season against the would be national champs.
I think JB was right. The B.E. was head and shoulders above the ACC in the last years of it’s life, but I don’t think he was trying to pooh pooh the ACC. He’s just not a homer and he’s brutally honest. Some people like honesty only until they get a dose of it. Then, not so much.
My advice to all of the ACC corespondents who don’t really know JB:
1 Don’t wade into a topic unsure of how you feel about it looking for him to give you a benign, press ready answer.
2 Don’t ask loaded questions. (yes, that was a loaded question)
3Don’t expect him to always agree with you.
4 If you breach a topic with him and he doesn’t agree, he WILL sound off. He may not have his filter, so hide your tender feelings.
5 Don’t take it personal. It’s not.
“While it is pretty clear Syracuse can expect to win the regular season title” – being a Syracuse fan for over 50 years, and a Big East fan from the inception, I would not bet against Pitt…..
Wait till next year, it’s gonna get even better when the Cards arrive.