When the ACC decided to expand to 14 full-time members a couple years ago, basketball probably wasn’t their biggest reason for doing so. At best, basketball was third on their list of reasons for expanding behind football and the money the conference will earn — not necessarily in that order. But whether it was intentional or not, the ACC not only added two teams from the basketball conference that were previously the best in the country, but they are adding the two best teams that the Big East had to offer.
By adding the Syracuse Orange and Pittsburgh Panthers, the ACC is getting two schools that have been the preeminent basketball programs in the Big East over the past decade. In the past 10 years, Pittsburgh has the most wins in Big East regular season play, with Syracuse having the second most, winning just one fewer conference game over that span.
Over the last five seasons, Syracuse has the most wins in Big East play while Pittsburgh has the third most. Since the turn of the century, there has only been three years in which the Big East Tournament championship game was played without at least the Orange or Panthers.
The ACC picked Syracuse and Pittsburgh more so for their rich football history and the markets they add to the conference footprint, but they couldn’t have picked two schools that will add more on the basketball side of things. Syracuse and Pittsburgh are not only perennial top-25 programs, but they also frequently find themselves in the top 10.
Louisville and Connecticut may have won national championships in recent years, but Syracuse and Pittsburgh have dominated the Big East over the past decade with far more consistency than any other school. And now they’re taking their talents to the ACC.
The addition of Syracuse and Pittsburgh will undoubtedly make the ACC the best basketball conference in the country, both this season and for many seasons to come. The ACC was strong before, but adding the two best and most consistent basketball programs from the Big East will take the conference to another level that no other conference will be able to match. At least with regard to basketball the ACC chose wisely by adding Syracuse and Pittsburgh.
Bryan Zarpentine is a New York Mets writer at RantSports.com. He also writes frequently about the NFL, College Football, College Basketball, and International Soccer. Like him on Facebook, follow him on twitter @BZarp and add him on Google.