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Fans, coaches intrigued by potential of next two men’s basketball seasons
GREENSBORO, N.C. (theACC.com) – As the ACC’s 15 men’s basketball programs learned their league matchups for the next two seasons, reaction throughout the conference mirrored the excitement.
“(Georgia) Tech Home Schedule For 2014-15 May Become Best Yet,” declared the headline on RamblinWreck.com, which noted upcoming first-time visits to McCamish Pavilion by traditional powers Louisville and Syracuse and Hall of Fame coaches Jim Boeheim and Rick Pitino.
Louisville, which joins the ACC on July 1, 2014, will sweeten the scheduling pot for several fellow conference members. The matchups for next season, released this Tuesday, include the Cardinals making their second-ever trip to North Carolina and their first since Dec. 17, 1998. Louisville also has a home-and-home set slated with ACC defending champion Virginia.
"With the addition of Louisville, the ACC schedule gets even stronger," Virginia head coach Tony Bennett said. "Our fans have played a big part in our success at home and the impact they had in our postseason run this past year was noticeable. We’re certainly going to need them again with the schedule we’ll face moving forward."
While the Cardinals’ presence bolsters the schedules of conference opponents, Pitino noted that it works both ways. In Louisville’s first year in the ACC, the Cardinals’ home ACC schedule will consist of Clemson, Duke, North Carolina, NC State, Miami, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Virginia and Virginia Tech. Louisville’s nine league road games will be at Boston College, Florida State, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Miami, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Virginia and Wake Forest.
“It’s just an awesome schedule for our fans … we’re very excited to take on this challenge,” Pitino said. “I relish the thought of facing competition and programs that I haven’t personally seen before.”
Beginning next season, the ACC will be home to five of the top 12 – and seven of the top 45 – winningest programs in the history of college basketball. The ACC will lead all conferences with six of the most recent 14 NCAA Division I champions. Four of the nine teams that have played in multiple NCAA Championship games and three of the top six schools with the most Final Four appearances are will be ACC members.
The ACC appears poised to extend its streak of consecutive seasons with at least one team ranked among the top 10 of the final Associated Press poll to 55 years. Virginia (No. 3) and Duke (No. 8) kept the streak alive this past season.
Even though ACC teams will lose a number of talented players from the 2013-14 season to the professional ranks, expectations remain typically high. USA Today analyst Scott Gleeson recently ranked Duke No. 1 in his early season Top 25 for 2014-15. North Carolina (No. 6), Virginia (No. 9) and Louisville (No. 10) joined the Blue Devils among the Top 10.
Throw in the inevitable teams that will surprise the pundits, and the pulse surrounding the next ACC basketball season – scarcely a month after the most recent one ended – is easy to understand. Let the countdown begin!