The ACC men’s basketball tournament will have a different look this year, and not just because Syracuse will be playing in it for the first time.
“It’s a marathon now,” ACC commissioner John Swofford said. “It will be a very different tournament.”
The tournament will open March 12 in Greensboro Coliseum, as it goes from four days to five to accommodate 15 teams for the first time. That first day will feature the bottom six teams in the standings – seeds Nos. 10-15 – but the upside is that it will be quite a bargain.
The ACC has spun off the first day of the tournament into its own orbit, selling single-day tickets for $35 that include all three games and a concert by country star Scotty McCreery between games Nos. 2 and 3.
“That first day hopefully will be an opportunity for people to be able to come who haven’t been able to get to the ACC tournament before, especially some of our younger fans,” Swofford said.
The four top teams won’t open play until Friday and the tournament will conclude on Selection Sunday as usual. For a team in the ACC’s bottom six to win, it would have to win five games in five days – much like the run Kemba Walker and Connecticut made famous in the 2011 Big East tournament.
“A little drama’s not all bad in the whole scheme of things,” Swofford said.
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim was ejected after throwing a tantrum when Syracuse’s C.J. Fair was called for a charge instead of Duke’s Rodney Hood for a block with 10 seconds to go. Fair’s layup went in and a no-call would have meant the game was tied. A foul on Hood would have given Fair a chance at a go-ahead free throw.
I thought Hood should have been called for a block and that Boeheim had a legitimate point. But I also thought Boeheim did his team a big disservice by losing his cool, getting two quick technicals and erasing what was still a small chance at winning the game.
Swofford seemed to not be bothered by the ruckus, saying, “It sure garnered a lot of attention. Those two Duke-Syracuse games have been terrific games for those two programs and for the ACC – a great new rivalry has been developed right out of the chute. ... So you just move on.”