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Thursday, May 14, 2009

ACC Coaches: You Suck

Thanks for nothing, ACC basketball coaches.

Before you was a golden opportunity to strike a major blow to one of the major problems facing ACC basketball post-expansion--imbalanced conference scheduling--and instead of taking a step forward by voting to increase the conference slate from 16 games to 18, you unanimously voted against it.

Hey, thanks for that.

Thanks for ensuring that each and every season we'll have a team like Virginia in 2006 that finishes way above their station by playing a weak conference slate. Thanks for ensuring that the Big Four misses on a great chance of increasing the number of home-and-away series with each Big Four school each year. Thanks for pussing out on the opportunity of more television dollars with the conference television package in favor of ensuring that you can keep two guaranteed wins on the schedule.

So instead of the Pack facing Duke twice a season every year while adding another home-and-away, for example, State will continue to face the Devils just once a season most years. Further, the league as a whole will continue to suffer come Selection Sunday as selection committee members are forced to parse through the strength of each team's conference slate to determine if one team's 9-7 conference mark is actually WORSE in value than another team's 8-8 finish. Don't try to sell me, coaches, that keeping UM-Baltimore County and William and Mary on your docket improves your chances of making the tournament field. If you're so dangerously close to the selection line that you need those two cupcakes to get in--versus proving yourself in two more conference games--you probably don't deserve to be in the field in the first place.

For an excellent look at how an 18-game conference schedule might've broken down, here's an archived article from the folks at SFN.

So, as Steven Colbert would say, a Wag Of The Finger to you 12 coaches for denying what the vast majority of ACC basketball fans want and what the Big East has already proven: that 18 conference games can, and does, work.


  1. The Big Four? Are you talking about accounting firms here?

    You can certainly argue either side of the 18 game format argument with pertinent examples supporting either side.

    For example, if BC plays two more league games against the Dukes, UNCs, Clemsons, and Wakes of the conference, they could have easily gone 20-14, 9-9 ACC and probably miss out on the tournament completely. Same with Maryland ... 19-13, 7-9 could easily turn into 17-14, 7-11 which might not even be NIT-worthy.

    The difference between 7 teams and 5 from the ACC in the NCAA tournament this season is a big deal and a serious issue of national perception.

    Like I said, definitely goes either way because I'm assuming two less league games are Ls ... but that's what I'm afraid of for the conference.

    Plus, moving to an 18 game schedule is not a means to an end of correcting the imbalanced schedule. The Pac 10 is the only major conference that has a balanced schedule and simply isn't on the radar of any of the major conferences.

    If a balanced schedule is what you are after, you would be better served asking NC State to defect from the ACC and start a 10 team athletics conference cobbling together teams from C-USA and the smaller southern conferences. 16 vs. 18 games gets you no closer.

  2. The Big Four? Are you talking about accounting firms here?.
    I assuming you're be facetious, but for those not familiar with the Big Four, it's the four North Carolina ACC schools. State's Everette Case helped with the creation of the term when he created the Dixie Classic tournament that pitted the "Big Four" against four teams from across the country. For those of us native North Carolinians who grew up during one of the best periods of ACC basketball, preserving the home/aways with the Big four teams is a big deal.

    As to the rest of your comments, I see where you're coming from and undoubtedly a lot of the ACC coaches see it your way. BC, in particular, has benefited greatly from the nature of the imbalanced schedule. Having Miami and Virginia Tech as your two permanent partners is certainly a better draw than, say, UNC and Duke or Wake Forest.

    Here's an excellent breakdown on the imbalanced schedule and what an 18-game schedule might look like:


    As to the national perception of the ACC only placing 5 teams in the tourney versus 7, I'd much rather the league send 5 battle-tested teams versus 7 teams ill-equipped to rise to the challenge and watch them fall on their face in the early rounds (which nearly every ACC team did this year). And I think BC, at 20-14 and 9-9 in a more balanced ACC conference slate, still makes the tourney this year. Again, assuming BC loses both of their extra two games. If they split them (let's say they add a UNC game and another lower-tier ACC game), then BC finishes 21-13, 10-8 and looking pretty damn good for a tourney bid.

    I highly suggest reading the above link. I know it's from StateFansNation, but it's a pretty comprehensive look at how an 18-game schedule might shake out and why it would be in nearly every team's interest to work for it.

  3. The Big Four? Recently it's been The Big Three and NC State. I keed, I keed.

    There is certainly the ACC bubble team argument (we can poke fun at BC here, but remember the Eagles have the third highest winning pct in the ACC since 2005. And maybe playing VaTech has helped this, but not really. We are about at .500 with the Hokies.), but I also think there is a valid argument against the 18 game slate from the Dukes and the UNCs of the conference.

    UNC and Duke already play each other twice, and part of their national prestige is going out and playing high-visibility opponents from other conferences. See: Duke's annual matchup against St. John's and scheduling Michigan recently. Sort of the anyone, anytime, anywhere mentality. If given the choice of continuing to schedule 2 games against these types of opponents, or scheduling Directional NC Community College U schools, I am hard pressed to imagine the St. John's/Michigans of CBB winning out.

    And I have to disagree about the # of tournament teams the conference fields. In terms of media coverage and national perception, I don't think there's a more over-mentioned statistic than # of teams in by conference. Plus, no one in the ACC has been able to do jack shit in the NCAAs since 2005 except UNC. The conference needs as many warm bodies as possible in the Dance every year.

  4. I think UNC and Duke are pretty much insulated from the effects of any change in the ACC scheduling. Right now they're so far ahead of the remaining 10 teams that 16 conference games or 18 conference games doesn't really make a difference to them. If anything, it almost assures they end up with two more conference wins. As to whether or not they would prefer passing on two conference games versus maintaining sleepers against UMBC or Sisters Of The Poor, I guess I don't get that. Sure, you get one more home game's worth of ticket revenue out of it, but where is it written that UNC and Duke (or any team for that matter) must jettison their prime out-of-conference games to keep the scrub matchups? The dominant teams like UNC and Duke would stand to benefit from a strength of schedule standpoint by maintaining their marquee OOC games while losing two gimmes. I mean, you reference Duke's scenario of dropping the St. Johns/Michigan games to keep the scrubs. Why? For a Duke or UNC, what's the difference between winning 25 regular season games or 23? Either way they're making the tournament, and I'll make the argument that a Duke team that adds two more conference games AND maintains those marquee OOC matchups is a better tournament team come March.

    The scrub games argument works better for teams that enter a season looking for 20+ wins, and perhaps a State, BC or Miami has to make the tough call to drop a prime OOC game to ensure getting closer to that 20-win mark.

    Yeah, the # of teams in the tournament is an incredibly hyped statistic, but I think the bigger tale-of-the-tape that either helps or hurts your league's perception is how your teams perform once they get there. All it took for the ACC to maintain some measure of dignity this year is because an ACC team won it all. If UNC is upset in the sweet 16 than 2009 is an epic disaster for the ACC, regardless of the fact that seven teams made it in. I think your team gets better when it faces better competition, and adding two more league games are two more opportunities for ACC teams to improve.

  5. my only concern would be that instead of losing a cupcake like UMBC or Winthrop, the teams would drop a good out of conference opponent (like Florida or Marquette in NC State's case).

    I certainly want to see every opponent twice each year, but I understand that's just not feasible.

  6. And good lord, Blogger needs an option to edit your comments. Please disregard the sheer volume of typos in my last comments.

  7. Agree with SlackZac.

    Also, ADs don't think it terms of SOS, they think in terms of $$. And the marquee out of conference games would be the first to go - no doubt in my mind - because most of those marquee programs require a return visit, which would be one less home game a year.

    The scrubs are perfectly content to go to your place year in and year out. And every AD is happy to have an extra home game's worth of attendance.

  8. Brian, you raise a good point about the return visit, one that I had not considered.

    That ALL 12 coaches voted against this -- not just the ones who currently benefit from consistently weak conference schedules -- tells me that they received a lot of pressure from their athletic directors to protect the current revenue stream.

    What ultimately needs to happen for change to come about is a conference television package lucrative enough to outweigh the benefits of the status quo.

  9. Can we say The ACC Network?

    Big Ten and Pac 10 are all over this ...

  10. I would LOVE the creation of an ACC Network. Hell, I only have standard tier cable; if the ACC created an ACC Network, I'd DEFINITELY upgrade to a digital/sports package to get it.