Coach K Says the New ACC Is the Best Basketball League Ever: Is He Right?

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Coach K Says the New ACC Is the Best Basketball League Ever: Is He Right?
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The point of conference realignment was to make super conferences. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski believes the ACC has succeeded. 

In an interview with the ACC Digital Network this week, Coach K and Jim Boeheim agreed that the new-look ACC will be the best ever. 

"We're both proud to be a part of I think what's going to be the greatest conference in the history of basketball," Krzyzewski said. 

Boeheim added: 

You're taking two great conferences and you've brought really the best of the Big East into this great conference, and I just think we have a chance to be special going forward in this conference like nobody's ever seen in college basketball.  

Do the two Hall of Famers have a point? Or is Krzyzewski spouting off some short-sighted hyperbole that should be reserved for conference commissioners? 

When Coach K says something, he probably deserves the benefit of the doubt. And from a historical perspective, this claim has merit. 

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Once Louisville joins the league in 2014, the ACC will feature four coaches currently in the Naismith Hall of Fame—Krzyzewski, Boeheim, Roy Williams and Rick Pitino. That's never happened before, although the Big East in the late 1980s had five coaches who would eventually make the hall—Pitino, Boeheim, John Thompson, Lou Carnesecca and Jim Calhoun.

The new-look ACC will have four of the top 10 programs and five of the top 12 with the most wins in the history of the game. No other league will have more than two. 

The league's teams will have more Final Fours than any other league and trail only the Pac-12—thanks to UCLA's 11 titles—for total national championships. 


Final Fours NCAA Titles
ACC 60 15
Big Ten 51 11
Pac-12 40 16
Big 12 36 5
SEC 31 11
New Big East 21 2
American 21 5

*Vacated Final Fours were counted and each league was represented by the schools that will be in the league in 2014. For instance, Louisville was counted as an ACC school and Maryland as a Big Ten school. 

 Coach K is talking about the future, so these historical numbers have some relevancy, but only go so far. Taking a look of the last 10 seasons provides a better portrait for the current landscape of each league. 

Again, the new-look ACC dominates. 


Final Fours NCAA Titles
ACC 10 4
Big Ten 7 0
Pac-12 3 0
Big 12 4 1
SEC 5 3
New Big East 4 0
American 4 2

 

If the ACC could duplicate the last 10 years over the next 10 years, it would rival the most dominant stretches by any league ever. 

The only worthy comparisons would be several eras of—go figure—the old ACC and Big East.

  • The mid-80s Big East from 1982 through 1989 produced eight Final Four teams and two national champions. 
  • From 1990 through 1999, the ACC sent 11 teams to the Final Four and had three national champions. 
  • From 2001 through 2010, the ACC had nine Final Four teams and five national champions. 
  • The Big Ten's best era was in the 1980s, producing six Final Four teams and three champs. 

Only the AAWU/Pac-8 of the 1960s and 70s can top what the ACC would have done had the schools been together in the last 10 years, and it's tough to argue that a league was dominant when it was just one team (UCLA) doing all the damage. 

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The Bruins made 10 straight Final Fours from 1967 through 1976, winning eight titles in that time span, but no other team in their league made the Final Four from 1961 through 1987. 

Pretty much any way you evaluate a conference—at least at the top—you cannot argue with Coach K. Even the bottom-feeders have all been relevant at some point in recent memory. Virginia Tech has the longest NCAA tourney drought at six years. 

Conference realignment is everything that is wrong with college sports. It's greed. It's poor geography. It's mostly all about football. But for once, it has created some fun scenarios looking forward. 

And unless the Big Ten can someday recruit Kentucky and Kansas for its own super basketball league—Gordon Gee would not approve—Coach K and the ACC will have bragging rights. 

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