The Cavalier Daily
Serving the University Community Since 1890

Big East realignment may net ACC more Dance cards

As soon as the NCAA men's basketball tournament brackets were announced last March, Wake Forest Coach Dave Odom held up the format of the ACC schedule as the reason only three Conference teams made The Dance.

Odom theorized that since ACC teams face each other twice during the regular season, each team had two losses to the unstoppable Blue Devils almost automatically, and most teams had at least one loss to Maryland or North Carolina. His solution was to expand the Conference to the size of the Big East, which is large enough that each team has only three double-dips with their conference opponents.

While no one took Odom's suggestion very seriously, many people saw the Big East format as a better idea. Last year, for example, only three teams faced Connecticut twice, which helped the Big East teams put together better records and higher national rankings.

Related Links
  • href="">Big East Conference

  • href="">ESPN's NCAA Tournament watch


    But last week, the Big East announced it was changing the makeup of the conference - and hence the schedule. When Virginia Tech joins the Big East next season, the conference will be split into two seven-team divisions. The schedule format will be changed so that each team plays two games against the other six teams in its division and once against each of four teams in the other division.

    A 14-team conference can be a bit unwieldy, but breaking up the Big East into two separate divisions will only weaken the conference as a whole.

    The teams will not be worse; several schools in the Big East likely will remain basketball powerhouses. It simply will be a lot harder to notice the schools that finish in the middle of the conference.

    Look at the ACC right now. Although the Conference is represented only by No. 3 Duke and No. 23 Maryland in this week's AP Poll, most observers believe another few teams have the talent to make the NCAA Tournament. But with the records those teams compile from beating up on each other all season, it might be a struggle to get that far.

    Last year the Big East sent six teams to the NCAA Tournament. Had those six teams - Connecticut, Syracuse, Miami, Villanova, Providence and St. John's - faced each other twice during the regular season, their records and rankings would not be nearly as high. Why then is the Big East taking this step?

    The men want to pursue divisions to enhance their particular rivalries, Big East Commissioner Michael Tranghese indicated in a press release. Yet it would seem the rivalries in a larger conference would not be as strong as in a smaller conference.

    Some matchups undoubtedly will be outstanding. After Seton Hall shattered Syracuse's unbeaten season with a 69-67 victory Monday night, you can bet that rivalry will be intense in the coming years, when the teams are guaranteed to play each other twice every season. In the other division, Connecticut will play St. John's and Providence twice each year.

    Those games look like very good matchups. But the problem for the teams who are any lower than the top two or three in their respective division is getting media attention, a situation similar to that in the ACC this year.

    The new Big East format could be detrimental to the conference itself but actually might benefit NCAA basketball as a whole - as well as conferences like the ACC.

    For the past two seasons, many observers have declared the Big East superior to the ACC. Unfortunately, with the difference in schedule formats - and resultant difference in records and ranks - this was difficult to truly determine. When the Big East realigns, it will be a lot easier to see how strong each conference is because teams will be playing relatively similar schedules.

    Odom wanted the ACC to move toward the Big East format, not the other way around. But while Wake Forest still might not make the NCAA Tourney this year, the Big East's planned realignment should give him a little less to complain about.

    The Demon Deacons were squeezed out of the Tournament last season. This year, they are one of a handful of ACC teams hoping they get invited to dance.


    Latest Podcast

    Today, we sit down with both the president and treasurer of the Virginia women's club basketball team to discuss everything from making free throws to recent increased viewership in women's basketball.