Around the ACC: Big Apple Bound?

ESPN’s Brett McMurphy reports that the Atlantic Coast Conference is considering playing its annual men’s basketball conference tournament in New York in the future, per a school official.   The official says the conference is considering “other options” for future tournaments as a result of their recent expansion to include Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Louisville, and Notre Dame.

This isn’t exactly breaking news.  John Swofford said during a teleconference following Syracuse’s and Pittsburgh’s admittance to the ACC that a conference tournament in the City That Never Sleeps would be “…very appealing for Atlantic Coast Conference basketball fans — and even more so now with even more teams in closer proximity.”  Despite this, n
either Madison Square Garden nor Brooklyn’s Barclays Center submitted bids by the September deadline for 2016-21 tournament consideration. 

Greensboro will host the 2013-15 ACC Tournaments, but the conference is looking for sites for 2016 and beyond.  Four sites that did submit bids have been denied – Miami, Orlando, Pittsburgh, and Atlanta’s Georgia Dome.

Other sites that submitted bids and are under consideration include former tournament hosts Charlotte (2008 in its current arena), Atlanta’s Philips Arena (2012), Tampa (2007), Washington, DC (2005), and Greensboro (I’m not even going to list them all).  

Unless these discussions go beyond “It sure would be nice to go to New York City for a change,” it’s hard to put much stock into them for the near future.  After all, Pittsburgh and Syracuse were already in the ACC’s pocket by the September deadline.  At some point, the conference would have to convince either Madison Square Garden or the Barclays Center that they really do want to host the ACC Tournament, they just don’t realize it yet.  They would also have to provide a pretty good excuse to whichever site or sites get bumped for New York if they are worked in any time before 2021.

Of those two, the more likely destination, for now, appears to be Brooklyn.  That is because Madison Square Garden is currently locked into a deal to host the Big East Tournament through 2026.  While the arena is reportedly “covered” if the Big East’s membership continues to fluctuate (see last paragraph), it’s difficult to say how much change would warrant either the Big East allowing MSG out of the deal or the Garden wanting out.  Until that deal reaches a conclusion of some sort, it would be impossible for the World’s Most Famous Arena to host two conference tournaments in the same weekend.

The Barclays Center is the current host of the Atlantic 10 Tournament, but that deal only runs through 2017.  Thus, they could be available for the bidding cycle for tournaments beyond 2021, even 2018 if the ACC is willing to make an exception.

Of course, the conference would be absolutely crazy to not pursue a tournament at either location if the opportunity presents itself.  As successful as the Big East Tournament has been in the Big Apple for more than 30 years, there’s no reason to believe it wouldn’t have similar success with the ACC, especially the expanded ACC. Furthermore, the tournament’s sites should reflect that expansion and tap into the new markets at its disposal.

Yes, Greensboro is the traditional home of the ACC Tournament, and could keep a place in the rotation (much to the pleasure of traditionalists and dismay of Jim Boeheim).  But to fully tap the potential of the new Atlantic Coast Conference, the tournament’s footprint should expand along with the conference’s membership.

How many times have you heard that the ACC Tournament has “lost its luster” over the past five years?  It will never return to the intensity of the tournament’s childhood years, when winning it was the only way to reach the NCAA Tournament. Is there a better way to add pizazz and excitement to an event to have it in the best venues the ACC region has to offer?

At the risk of sounding like Boeheim’s pet parrot, if given the choice between the illustrious Madison Square Garden, the eye-popping Barclays Center, and Greensboro Coliseum, which would you rather visit for a game? Which court do you think most intrigues potential recruits?  And which has the most corporate connections to offer?

Tradition is nice, but these are the questions the conference will be answering when setting future tournament sites.  For those reasons, New York City makes an ideal spot for the ACC Tournament.  I fully expect a New York venue to appear in the 2021-and-beyond cycle. Until a venue opens its arms (and its datebook) to the idea, though, it’s little more than wishful thinking.

This week’s ACC Power Rankings

1) Miami – Miami just keeps weathering the storm.  Reggie Johnson was a force of nature against NC State.  All eyes are now on the Hurricanes to see how long this surge will last. Thank you, tip your waiters, they work hard, I’ll be here all week. *walks away*

2) Duke – Duke is the only team close to Miami right now.  They’ve now won three straight, including convincing victories against Maryland and Florida State.  Can they get redemption of one of their two losses by knocking off NC State this week?

3) North Carolina – Oh, hey. North Carolina has won five of their last six after an 0-2 start, and they’ve gone without either P.J. Hairston or Leslie McDonald in all six of those games. McDonald is back, but Hairston is doubtful for Tuesday against Wake Forest.

4) Virginia – The Georgia Tech loss was bad.  Okay, really bad, especially after leading by nine at halftime. They might be one of the better teams in the ACC, but their bad losses (Hello, Old Dominion!) could cost them an NCAA berth.

5) NC State – Contrary to their in-state rivals, the Wolfpack have lost four of their last six after starting ACC play 3-0.  Cut them some slack for giving Miami and Virginia (on the road) a fight without Lorenzo Brown, but at some point they are going to have to show some consistency.  Keep an eye on Brown’s status leading up to the Duke game.

6) Florida State – Florida State’s losses have come against the top half of the league, and their four wins have come against Clemson and Maryland.  This week’s games at Georgia Tech and Wake Forest could be a little more telling, but for now the Seminoles scream “middle seat on the airplane.”

7) Maryland – The Terrapins completely dismantled a Wake Forest team that hung with Duke for 40 minutes, and it could have been even worse. Maryland committed 19 turnovers!

8) Clemson – Things have come in pairs for Clemson thus far: Lost to FSU and Duke, beat Virginia and Wake at home, lost at NC State and Florida State, won home games against Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech.  Coming off a loss to BC does not bode well for Clemson’s trip to Charlottesville if the pattern holds.

9) Boston College – Boston College snaps a five-game losing streak by beating Clemson.  They also get the pleasure of playing Miami and Duke this week.

10) Georgia Tech – After that 0-5 start, the Yellow Jackets have won two of three.  Maybe this young team is putting some things together.

11) Wake Forest –  I was ready to praise you, Wake Forest, after hanging with Duke, but then you got blown out by Maryland to make it three straight losses since beating NC State. The Wolfpack’s not really doing you any favors, either.

12) Virginia Tech – Erick Green had “only” 16 points against the Tar Heels Saturday, thanks in no small part to zero free throw attempts.  Cadarian Raines and Jarell Eddie stepped up, but the Hokies hope that Green isn’t suffering from the stress and fatigue of carrying this team.


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