It’s been discussed on multiple occasions to this point in the offseason: the new ACC and it’s possible impact on the college basketball landscape.
Adding Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and Syracuse to a conference that has perennial powers Duke and North Carolina, not to mention other historically successful programs, has many believing that the conference could very well be the best that college basketball has to offer. And that’s without Louisville, which joins the conference in 2014.
But what impact will the conference have on television? College basketball ratings don’t often approach those of college football, given the number of games in a season and the resulting number of options for viewers.
In an interview by Jon Solomon of AL.com, ESPN senior vice president of sports programming Burke Magnus feels that the new ACC has the potential to “redefine what’s possible in college basketball” from a fan interest standpoint.
“I think what the ACC has created could in many ways redefine what’s possible in college basketball in terms of fan interest. When you have the likes of Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame and Louisville joining Tobacco Road along with their other basketball brands, there are real possibilities there. We’re going to move them into our franchise Big Monday slot with the Big 12 so they’ll have early games on Monday nights.
“I think there will be so many meaningful games between those ACC teams that it will almost be a somewhat daily conversation for basketball fans. We all know football in many ways drives the enterprise. But college basketball, we continue to invest in it. It’s a critical part of our program mix from November to the end of March. It’s an innings eater. There’s a lot of it on, but at the same time we could use more of it that really moves the meter in a meaningful way with college football-like numbers.”
This doesn’t come as a surprise, because for all the complaining about the loss of traditional rivalries due to conference realignment there are also new match-ups that immediately catch the eye.
The ACC will certainly see a ratings boost given the prospect of match-ups such as Duke/Syracuse and (down the line) Louisville/North Carolina. But just as important will be the status as programs that have resided in the middle portion (or lower) of the ACC standings in recent years.
Obviously someone has to lose the games that will be played but if all 15 schools carry their weight, Magnus’ words may come to fruition.
Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.