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Duke had a men’s basketball practice last Friday. That would be September 27. If things go according to plan, Duke will be playing in the Final Four in Arlington, Texas. That would be in April.
For the mathematically challenged, that’s a bit more than six months of college basketball.
It may take some time for me to get used to college-basketball-practice starting before the start of the MLB postseason.
But that does give us lots of time for lots of stories.
And if bigger really is better, the ACC should have lots of stories this season.
We have the Trials and Tribulations of P.J. Hairston. That How-I-Spent-Summer-Vacation-essay should be a real page turner.
We have defending ACC champion Miami and their you-can’t-tell-the-players-without-a-scorecard roster remake. I want to go full Butch Cassidy. “Who are those guys?”
And don’t get me started on that NCAA investigation of possible illegal benefits at Miami. Largely football centered but with perhaps some hoops implications. Still on-going. Odysseus got back from Troy in less time.
Mike Krzyzewski is at 957 wins. Can he coax 43 wins out of a 31-to-40 game schedule?
(Credit: Greg Fiume/Maryland Athletics)
Then there’s Maryland, the ACC’s first lame-duck team since South Carolina left in 1971. But South Carolina’s leave-taking was short and sweet compared to Maryland’s long exit spiral. Last week I was reading one of the popular web-site’s updated top-100 players in the class of 2014 list, when it occurred to me that I really didn’t have to pay any attention to Maryland’s recruits, at least no more attention than I would pay to Nebraska’s recruits or Oregon’s recruits.
And there’s that $52 million dispute between the ACC and cash-starved Maryland. Not the kind of court action we are accustomed to but important to the long-term stability of the league, any league that actually has contracts and by-laws and all that other legal stuff.
But much of the focus will be on the new kids on the block, Syracuse, Notre Dame and Pittsburgh. The latter two have more football tradition but figure to be competitive in hoops.
Notre Dame is actually ninth in all-time wins, albeit with only one Final Four appearance, back in 1978. What have they done with all the Austin Carr-John Shumate-Adrian Dantley-David Rivers-level talent that has floated through South Bend over the years?
And the first person who mentions that 1927 Helms title gets an electronic noggie. What have you done for me since the center jump was eliminated?
And yes, I realize I’ve just set up Mike Brey for a perfect season.
I was a bit surprised to find out that Pitt is at 45 in all-time wins, ahead of Maryland, Virginia, indeed nine ACC schools. And yes, Pitt fans, I’m old enough to remember Don Hennon.
Syracuse is fifth on the wins list, elite by any standards. They join North Carolina at third and Duke at fourth, to give the ACC three of the top five. NC State is 25th, so the ACC has six of the top 45, three more than last season.
Credit: Syracuse University Athletic Communications
And, of course the Orange has Jim Boeheim and that zone defense that I guess we’ll all have fun trying to figure out. Or does the Orange have Jim Boeheim? Questions, questions, questions. Maybe Boeheim can help us. The ACC media is already girding its collective loins for that first Boeheim press conference.
The ACC has added teams in the past, of course. After all, the league spent most of the 1970s with seven teams. But it’s never added three at one time and it’s never been this big. Schedules, rivalries, travel, the ACC Tournament and who knows what else will be impacted?
I guess we’ll find out more down the line. Don’t you just love surprises?
The ACC had eight players drafted and lost 11 of the 16 players named to the 2013 All-ACC team. But as usual, the league reloaded, with the usual assortment of prep All-Americans. A bit more unusual is the fact that Duke, Syracuse, NC State, Miami, Maryland, Virginia Tech, Boston College, Virginia and Pittsburgh are all relying on key transfers, most of whom did sit out the requisite redshirt season.
The ACC’s Media Day is scheduled for October 16, in Charlotte, the better to woo the nice folks at ESPNU. So, before that, I’ll let you know my picks for the league race and conference honors, so you can come back in March and make fun of me.
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