It was fitting that over the course of this weekend’s ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament, Notre Dame swept into town and won it all, defeating both of our perennial champions — Duke and UNC — and denying what some around these parts see as their birthright: a Tar Heel/Blue Devil final.
The old lions of the ACC got knocked out by a newcomer with an asterisk next to its membership in the conference; Notre Dame’s football program has a limited arrangement with the ACC, and its ice hockey and fencing teams are in different conferences altogether. Their women’s squad is in the ACC, and they won in Greensboro this year, too. Thanks a lot, Obama.
The teams have been a part of the ACC for only two seasons, a fact that had to hurt the faithful college basketball fans who descend on the men’s tournament every year. Add that this will be the last ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament n Greensboro until 2020, and we have a genuine tragedy on our hands.
The tournament goes to Washington, DC next year, a fair enough triangulation that figures in the geographic reality of Pittsburgh, Syracuse, the University of Louisville and the Fighting Irish, all new members of the ACC.
But then the show moves for two years to Brooklyn, at the Barclays Center, which sounds just fine to the TV folks and some of the new teams, but will not sit well with longtime fans of the ACC tournament.
It’s difficult to imagine the Clemson fans on the subway.
Those who have been coming to Greensboro, where the tournament has been held eight times in the past 13 years, have enjoyed the relative sleepiness of the city. Hotel rooms and restaurant reservations are never a problem; the airport is 20 minutes away from downtown; and the event, though it draws as many as 100,000 people; is as accessible as any in sports, with ample parking and easy proximity to everything the city has to offer.
But Brooklyn is the home of the $16 draft beer and the $300 hotel room — less expensive than across the river in Manhattan, but significantly more than a week in Greensboro would run. And it’s difficult to imagine the Clemson fans on the subway.
By the time the tourney comes back to Greensboro — 2019 is set to go down in Charlotte — world-weary ACC fans should be elated to get back to the conference’s ancestral home, which by then should look like a very different city. And maybe by then Wake Forest will have stepped up their game enough to be a presence in the league created in their own backyard.