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Coach K: ACC will be ‘best conference in the history of the game’

May 23, 2013, 5:26 PM EDT

Image (1) 040705_krzyzewski_vlg_11a.standard.jpg for post 438

While much of this past season was spent lamenting the changing of the Big East, another result of conference realignment was the improvement of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s basketball product.

Sure Duke and North Carolina managed to carry their share of the load in the years following the move from nine to 12 schools, but a number of the holdovers failed to make much of an impact nationally.

With the addition of Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and Syracuse (not to mention Louisville, which arrives in 2014) the ACC will not lack for firepower when next season rolls around.

One person confident that the new league will make its mark: Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski.

During a press conference announcing his decision to return as head coach of the USA men’s basketball team for the 2016 Summer Olympics, Krzyzewski proclaimed the ACC to not only be a 10-bid (NCAA tournament) league, but also stated that “we’re going to be the best conference in the history of the game.”

That’s certainly possible given the new arrivals, but whether or not the ACC reaches (or even exceeds) the lofty expectations will depend as much on the remaining programs as it will the newcomers.

In the years following the ACC’s first major change, programs such as Georgia Tech, N.C. State and Wake Forest fell on hard times, leading to an era in which five NCAA tournament bids became commonplace.

The league has averaged only five NCAA Tournament bids per season since the expansion and only placed four teams in the field four times in that nine-year stretch, including 2013. All of the teams that are entering over the next several seasons made this past season’s field, and Louisville became the champion.

However, that still means some current members will have to improve their programs to back Krzyzewski’s promise. Wake Forest, Georgia Tech and Boston College haven’t made the field since 2010. Virginia Tech hasn’t been there since 2007.

As was the case with the 16-team Big East, “getting off the canvas” will be even tougher for programs that have struggled in recent years. But for the programs that are in good shape (and well-positioned to remain so) the “new” ACC can do a lot to prepare them for the NCAA tournament.

Getting stronger doesn’t guarantee that the ACC will rack up the national titles (their last came in 2010), but it certainly won’t hurt matters.

Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

  1. cullimon - May 23, 2013 at 5:37 PM

    Musta forgot bout the B1G TEN

    • duvisited - May 29, 2013 at 4:21 PM

      Have to downgrade the Big Ten for adding Rutgers.

      Rutgers.

  2. jthammerstix - May 23, 2013 at 9:57 PM

    He’s right

  3. mungman69 - May 24, 2013 at 12:42 PM

    How many teams will end up in ACC? 100?

  4. tg1896 - May 25, 2013 at 6:19 AM

    How many teams are in the BIG 10? (hint: it ain’t ten) The BIG is every bit as good at basketball as they are at math.

  5. jrs45 - May 25, 2013 at 7:17 PM

    ACC lol!!!! It’s always duke and nc let’s be honest.

  6. pastabelly - May 28, 2013 at 10:00 AM

    The Big East had three teams in the Final Four one year back in the 80s. Forget the year, but that is unprecedented. However, it is hard to disagree with Coach K on this one. Up and down, this version of the ACC is the strongest. The 2014 version will be stronger than the 2013 one once Louisville replaces Maryland.

  7. pastabelly - May 28, 2013 at 10:02 AM

    As far as the Big 10 goes, their latest moves indicate more about marketing and geographical reach than improving depth in the conference.

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