The conference will begin the upcoming season with five of the top 12 teams in the county, and seven of the top 45. This new basketball super-conference, a league that has a legitimate shot at sending as many as 10 teams to the NCAA tournament next year, will experience success unlike that of any conference in history.
In a news conference last May, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski, college basketball’s all-time wins leader, said that the addition of teams like Louisville and Pittsburgh would turn the ACC into a conference that would “blow your favorite conference out of the water.” The hoops legend even went so far as to say that the addition of these new teams would make the conference “the best conference in the history of the game.”
Considering his unparalleled experience and success, it’s hard to argue anything that Krzyzewski makes such a bold statement about. It is especially difficult to argue this point, however, because of the sheer number of great conferences that have gone before this one. Despite conferences like the 2004 ACC, there has never been a league with as many potentially great teams at the start of a single season.
It is unlikely, but not impossible, that the ACC could eclipse the 2009 Big East as the conference with the most No. 1 seeds in the NCAA tournament in one year (three). That year, Louisville, Connecticut and Pittsburgh represented the Big East as top seeds in the Big Dance; now, two of those teams are in the ACC.
And it isn’t just the talent that will separate the 2014-15 ACC from the rest, it’s the unmatched experience of the coaching staffs. With the addition of Louisville, the ACC boasts four active coaches who have been inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Krzyzewski, Jim Boeheim, Roy Williams and Rick Pitino.
Before the addition of Louisville, the ACC was the only conference to have had eight or more players taken in the NBA Draft in each of the last three seasons. With the addition of the Cardinals, statistics like these are sure to grow as the ACC separates itself from the rest of the pack. College basketball has never seen a conference that has the potential to dominate the nationwide landscape in the way that the 2014-15 ACC could.