In addition today's announcement of the future ACC football schedule and new football divisions, the conference also released details around the new men's and women's basketball schedule format.
The conference will play an 18-game schedule starting in 2012-13 (previously announced). When Pitt and Syracuse join the fold ... whenever ... each school will have just one primary partner -- Boston College and Syracuse; Clemson and Georgia Tech; Duke and North Carolina; Florida State and Miami; Maryland and Pitt; N.C. State and Wake Forest; Virginia and Virginia Tech.
That means BC will get a home-and-home with Syracuse annually, which is a good thing. Probably the best situation possible for the Eagles. This also means BC avoids playing both Virginia Tech and Miami twice a season. Another win, as those primary partners always seemed a little forced in a "football rivals aren't the same as hoops rivals" sort of way. For the ACC's other 12 programs, BC will see the likes of Duke, North Carolina and Pitt four times in three years.
While BC-Syracuse become locked at the hip in hoops (as they should be), not everyone is all that pleased with the new scheduling format.
Since the conference is scaling back the number of primary partners from two to one (the Coach K scheduling model), a few ACC programs are none too pleased.
Maryland is the biggest loser in all of this, as the Terps replace 12 games with Duke and Virginia over a three-year span for six with new primary partner Pitt and eight with Duke and Virginia. I'm sure N.C. State fans can't be thrilled either that they lose a home-and-home each season with UNC and keep two with just Wake Forest.
Every other program besides BC and Maryland loses just one primary partner. Clemson-Florida State, Duke-Maryland, Georgia Tech-Wake Forest, Miami-Boston College, N.C. State-North Carolina, Virginia-Maryland and BC-Virginia Tech will now be played just four times over a three-year span instead of six times as they do today.
With only one primary partner, you're probably never going to make N.C. State or Maryland fans totally happy. But this awkwardness could have at least been partially avoided if the league instead paired Maryland with Virginia and Virginia Tech with Pittsburgh.
Football rivalries do not always equal hoops rivalries, and while Maryland and Pittsburgh share a state border, an annual basketball rivalry seems way too forced. Much like BC-Virginia Tech and BC-Miami always seemed forced, as the three schools share little in common other than a shared history on the gridiron, not the hardwood.
In other awkwardness, the conference announced that all 14 league members will compete in the Men's and Women's Basketball Tournaments. While I'm all for giving out trophies and trips to Greensboro to everyone, why not keep the tournament at 12 teams?
I've always felt the Big East made a major misstep (one of many) when they started inviting everyone and their little brother to MSG for the Big East Tournament. Should you really reward a team for going winless in conference play with a trip to the conference's tournament (oh, hai DePaul)?
Keeping the tournament at 12 teams creates compelling matchups at both the top of the conference standings as teams vie for the top four spots and a first-round bye AND at the bottom of the standings, fighting for a spot in the postseason tournament. Forgive the college hockey analogy, but this is precisely how the Hockey East tournament is set up. Teams simultaneously fight to earn home ice in the Hockey East quarterfinals and to make the field at all, with the bottom two teams in the league standings forced to sit it out.
Besides, why change the ACC Tournament format in the first place? It's still one of the best college basketball tournaments in the country. Leave it alone.
If you thought that you'd never hear the end of ACC hoops purists whining about ACC expansion to BC, Virginia Tech and Miami (and the death of the round-robin), just wait until the ACC stages its first 14-team ACC men's basketball tournament. The web servers at the Raleigh News & Observer might overload.