As the ACC ushers college basketball into a new era, I am also starting anew. As a recent Syracuse graduate, I can relate to the current transition facing the Orange. I am adjusting to a new life here in ACC country, specifically Tobacco Road. The Orange will have to adjust as well because the ACC hoops title comes through the state of North Carolina.
Instead of playing football on the hardwood (what the old Big East called basketball) against schools like Georgetown, UConn and Villanova, the Orange is heading south. Duke has won the ACC tournament 19 times, and North Carolina has won the tournament 17 times. The rest of the schools in the ACC combined have won 20 tournament championships.
The tradition associated with hoops down Tobacco Road includes some of the best games in college basketball history. Half-court shots, buzzer-beating threes, fluky tip-ins, the Duke-North Carolina rivalry has had it all. I could have spent all day watching YouTube highlights.
The NCAA tournament is littered with other memorable moments involving these schools. Every year in the big dance, Christian Laettner’s shot is played again and again, reminding Kentucky fans of an excruciating loss (and those fans are still bitter).
The sustained excellence on Tobacco Road is amazing, with Duke and North Carolina commanding national attention every year for the past 30-plus years. Now Syracuse is joining that mix.
As a basketball fan and as a writer, I can’t wait to see how Syracuse fits into the old-school power structure of the ACC. Syracuse brings its own tradition of excellence to the ACC. The Orange won 10 Big East regular season titles and 5 Big East tournament titles. Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim has won 21 or more games in 32 out of his 37 seasons (page 14). The Orange plays a 2-3 zone unlike any other zone in the country. I am interested to see how the Tar Heels and Blue Devils match up with the zone and the long-armed players playing it.
As a fan, writer and Syracuse grad, I am excited for the marquee matchup of Coach Jim Boeheim and Coach Mike Krzyzewski. When they meet on the court, the two will already have more than 1,850 wins combined (depending on when Duke plays Syracuse, this could be 1,900 wins)! This year’s Sweet 16 darling, Florida Gulf Coast, has never played that many basketball games!
As new recruits land on campus (per Duke Blue Planet), I think we can all agree. The new hoops season cannot come quickly enough! Bring on the new competition in Orange jerseys and shorts.