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ACC Expansion Teams: How Successful Have They Been?

Some more than others, at least so far.

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NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Wake Forest
 Mar 2, 2019; Winston-Salem, NC, USA; Syracuse Orange head coach Jim Boeheim reacts to a call in the first half against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Lawrence Joel Coliseum. 
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

When Syracuse joined the ACC in 2013-14 and opened the season with 25 straight wins, including a dozen in conference action, it appeared Big East additions were about to take over the league. Notre Dame and Pitt climbed aboard that year too, and Louisville in 2015.

Instead of establishing their dominance, however, the newcomers’ fortunes went in a distinctly different direction, one sure to soothe ACC traditionalists.

That’s at least true on the men’s side, anyway.

None of the additions have finished atop the regular-season standings. Pending completion of this year’s event, only Notre Dame has won the ACC Tournament (2015) or reached the final (a second time in 2017). This season saw no coach still enthralled with New York and its basketball venues finishing better than sixth during the regular season.

In fact the 2019 bottom finishers were Pitt and Notre Dame. Six years in, both programs coached by estimable practitioners of the basketball arts are more or less rebuilding from the ground up, testament to the rigors of the ACC.

That’s not to say the expansion corps has done poorly.

Notre Dame not only had several strong showings in the ACC Tournament under Mike Brey (a coach with roots in the old conference), but twice finished third during the regular season.

Louisville completed the regular season as the best of the newcomers, or tied for the best, in each of the past four years under three different coaches. And Syracuse finished second in the league in ’14, trailing only Virginia, and matched Louisville in sixth place this year.

Actually it’s only been in 2018 and 2019 that at least one Big East refugee failed to finish among the league’s top four during the regular season.

Since coming aboard, Syracuse is the only recent addition to reach the Final Four, losing to North Carolina in 2016. Jim Boeheim’s clubs have made the NCAAs every year they’ve been in the conference except 2015, when the Orange were benched for rules violations.

Syracuse has yet to win a game in four tries in the ACC Tournament. There’s a good chance that will change in this edition’s second round, where it will play either BC or Pitt, against which Boeheim’s bunch is a combined 4-0 in 2019.

Best ACC Finishes By Mid-Decade Expansion Members
Season Regular Season Finish ACCT
2019 6-T Louisville, Syracuse (10-8) TBD
2018 9 Louisville (9-9) quarters, UL&ND
2017 3-T Louisville, Notre Dame (12-6) final, ND
2016 4 Louisville (12-8) semis, ND
2015 3 Notre Dame (14-4) Notre Dame
2014 2 Syracuse (14-4) semis, Pitt
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