Mar 11, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Florida State Seminoles guard Michael Snaer (21) shoots over North Carolina Tar Heels forward Tyler Zeller (44) and Harrison Barnes (40) in the second half during the finals of the 2012 ACC Men's Basketball Tournament at Philips Arena. FSU defeated UNC 85-82 to win the school's first ACC tournament championship. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-US PRESSWIRE
Since the 2005-06 season the ACC has operated on a 3-year rotating schedule for conference games. FSU's permanent partners were Miami and Clemson, who the Noles would play twice every season. The other nine teams would rotate in groups of three so that FSU would play every team twice in a year at least once every three years. Got it?
Well, now forget it.
The Noles were primed to have a schedule ideally suited for trying to capture their first ever regular season title*. FSU would have played Miami, Clemson, Boston College, Georgia Tech and Maryland twice each. The rest, FSU would have only faced once. And that group includes three of the top four teams in the conference: Duke, North Carolina and North Carolina State.
(*The ACC does not formally recognize a "Regular Season Champion." The only champion is the winner of the conference tournament)
Then in December the ACC decided to move ahead with an 18-game league schedule (rather than a 16). The ACC office claimed that this would have happened with or without the addition of Syracuse and Pitt, but in reality it didn't happen until after everyone knew those two teams were coming. Who knows if the ACC is telling the truth. And really, it hardly matters.
Now the changes to the 3-year rotating schedule are becoming public. The first step was consulting with ESPN. (Does the ACC office not understand which match-ups are marketable?) And as expected, ESPN wants the best teams playing each other as much as possible, which is exactly what is happening.
FSU, which had the 2nd most difficult schedule in the conference last season, will now face a 2nd straight tough schedule. It's been confirmed that FSU will now face NC State twice, as well as North Carolina. It's safe to assume that FSU will play Miami twice as well. Among the ACC powers, Duke is currently the only question mark.
This, of course, will hurt FSU's chances to win the regular season, but it might ultimately be a good thing. Unlike football, basketball rewards tough schedules, and if FSU can once again compile a solid conference record then there won't be any hand wringing come Selection Sunday.