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ACC Expansion: Boston College Hoops' Future

The additions of Syracuse and Pittsburgh to the ACC (in 2014) will have various impacts on the Boston College Eagles and the conference as whole. It would be rather hard to argue that BC football is hurt by having two new opponents in the vicinity, but what about basketball? The ACC and Big East have been fighting it out for college basketball supremacy over the past several years. The argument has long been that the Big East boasted more depth while the ACC's cream of the crop, UNC and Duke, were better than anything that the Big East could offer. The arrival of Syracuse and Pittsburgh will change this and should have significant impact on BC's basketball program. 

As is the case in football, Boston College benefits from the close proximity of the new opponents. As the conference currently stands, BC is clearly the only school in the northeast region. One would expect the Eagles to revive old Big East rivalries with the ACC newcomers. This will create more buzz about the program, get the Eagles on national television a few more times per year, and ultimately, help our recruiting. While there are numerous factors that go into effective recruiting, increased exposure may be one of the most important. Prospective recruits don't want to play in front of an half-filled Conte Forum. They the electric basketball environments that you see with Cameron Indoor and Allen Fieldhouse. That's not to say that Boston College hoops will ever reach that level of intrigue, but yearly rivalries with basketball powerhouses will most certainly make Steve Donahue's pitch more appealing to talented players. 

Naturally, the conference expansion comes with its fair share of negatives for Boston College as well. The most prominent is that Syracuse and Pittsburgh make the ACC the most competitive basketball conference in the country. While BC should enjoy increased national exposure, I wouldn't expect a conference championship anytime soon. Overcoming perennial Final Four contenders, Duke and UNC, was hard enough. When you throw Pitt and 'Cuse into the mix, the task becomes nearly impossible. BC simply doesn't have the recruiting ability to compete with the talent that such historic programs throw on the court, year after year. In this sense, it would appear that BC basketball is on the losing end of this whole thing, but I tend to disagree. BC's ACC championship hopes simply went from slim to slimmer, while we stand to benefit in multiple ways, with the next point perhaps being the most intriguing. 

The added strength and depth of the ACC should help the Eagles' chances at gaining a berth in the NCAA tournament. In recent years, the Big East has been notorious for sending seven, eight, or even nine teams to the Big Dance. Teams such as Cincinnati and St. John's frequently get the nod over mid-majors due to the strength of their conference and schedules. I expect a similar effect to help propel BC into the Big Dance despite relatively mediocre win-loss records. 

BC will undoubtedly face stark competition in the new-look ACC but it isn't all bad. It will be hard to ignore a basketball program that faces Syracuse, Duke, UNC, and Pittsburgh every year, especially if the Eagles manage to pull the occasional upset. More big games against big time basketball programs should get students and alumni excited and get the culture surrounding BC hoops headed in the right direction.