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With One Exception, Former Big East Teams Have Not Done Well In The ACC Tournament

Mike Brey’s high point at Notre Dame was pretty great.

North Carolina v Notre Dame
GREENSBORO, NC - MARCH 14: Head coach Mike Brey of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrates after defeating the North Carolina Tar Heels 90-82 to win the 2015 ACC Basketball Tournament Championship game at Greensboro Coliseum on March 14, 2015 in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Once Mike Brey retires as head coach at Notre Dame, presumably following a defeat in the 2023 ACC Tournament, Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim will be the only Big East coach remaining in the league he so reluctantly joined a decade ago.

And this year Boeheim will be competing in Greensboro, the city he was so quick to disparage shortly after his arrival. Syracuse is 5-7 in the ACC Tournament under Boeheim, 2-2 in Greensboro, and has yet to win twice on the same weekend.

“I love Greensboro,” said NC State coach Kevin Keatts, a Virginia native, offering a contrary viewpoint. “I know we have some coaches in the league that don’t want it in Greensboro. I’m not saying who they are. I love Greensboro.”

Soon enough, given his age (78), especially after his team deflated down the stretch in 2023, that particular coach may be gone, anyway.

Unless the Orange run the table this month or in the very near future, the sole Big East benchmaster to capture an ACC title will have been Brey in 2015, the Irish’s second season in the league.

Brey made it twice to the ACC finals, losing to Duke at Brooklyn in 2017. His ’15 squad, led by All-ACC guard Jerian Grant, beat Miami, Duke and Carolina consecutively at Greensboro in the program’s second season in the league. Grant, a senior and the team leader, was sidelined by academic woes in Notre Dame’s inaugural ACC season. Red-shirted, he rallied to win the Everett Case Award as the 2015 tournament’s most valuable player.

The only other Big East migrant to take his squad to the ACC Tournament finals was Al Skinner of Boston College. The laidback Skinner, with more wins than anyone else in BC history (247-165), was unceremoniously dumped following the 2010 season.

His Eagles, led by unflappable veterans Mickey Hinnant and 6-7 frontcourt stalwarts Craig Smith and Jared Dudley, met Duke in the 2006 finals. J.J. Redick led all scorers with 26 points. Hinnant had 20 for BC while Smith had 19 points and 10 rebounds.

The 78-76 verdict at the Greensboro Coliseum secured the Blue Devils’ 10th tournament title in the 13 seasons from 1999 through 2011.

Since the first burst of expansion nearly two decades ago, Duke has won the ACC Tournament title 6 times, more than any other program, in 17 tries. Duke also lost twice in the finals, giving Mike Krzyzewski’s squads eight shots at the top prize in their last 17 post-expansion forays.

UNC reached the finals 7 times in those 17 years, winning consecutively in 2007 and 2008. FSU got to the championship contest 4 times, winning in 2012. Virginia got to the final game 3 times, emerging as champion in 2014 and 2018. Georgia Tech got there 3 times, winning in 2021; that may stand as the highlight of Josh Pastner’s 7-year tenure.

As noted, Notre Dame reached the finals twice and won in 2015, an achievement Brey cites as a program pinnacle. (The Irish also got to the NCAA Elite 8 that year.) Clemson’s unsuccessful 2008 advance to the title clash was the second in program history, same as the Fighting Irish.

Former Big East programs Louisville, Pitt and Syracuse have never reached the ACC Tournament finals, let alone won the title. In fact, every former Big East club except the Cardinals and Orange have advanced at least to the semifinals. Those latter two did win NCAA titles in their previous incarnations.

Miami and Virginia Tech, both of which joined the ACC in 2005, won the ACC Tournament but not under the coach who guided them into the league. Hurricanes became ACC members with Frank Haith as their coach, while the Hokies were a Seth Greenberg production. (To be perfectly exact Leonard Hamilton, who took Florida State to an ACC title in 2012, did coach in the Big East at Miami from 1991 through 2000 before leaving for the NBA. He’s been at Tallahassee since the ’03 season, 11 years after FSU joined the ACC, but never coached a former Big East club that was an ACC member.)

Eight different teams won the ACC championship since 2005, including three of the seven former Big East programs. Six different teams won every year from 2012 through 2017, the most upheaval in the event’s history.

The last time a participant won consecutive titles was Duke from 2009 through 2011.

The No.1 seed has won 7 of 17 ACC tournaments with 10 or more members participating.

Eleven of 17 post-2005 tournaments, nearly two-thirds, were won by original ACC members Duke, UNC and Virginia. Just six founding programs remain in the league. Then again, non-founders won 5 of the last 10.

In 2017 Duke was the first and only No.5 seed to win it all. Also the sole contestant to win four consecutive games to capture the title. Another Devil distinction: in recent years only Duke in 2010 won the tournament title and advanced to win the NCAA championship.

Virginia Tech’s triumph last year was not only the first for that school, but the first for a No.7 seed. No team seeded lower than 7 has won the ACC Tournament.

Among non-titleists its worth noting NC State had a quiet but impressive run of 4 appearances over 5 years in the ACC Tournament semifinals from 2010 through 2014, and a finals appearance as a 10th seed in 2007. The Wolfpack lost every time. The dominant tournament program in the ACC’s early going hasn’t won a championship since 1987 at Landover, Maryland, under master improvisationalist Jim Valvano.

ACC Tournament Results Since 2005 Expansion
Year Champion Finals Champion
Joined ACC
Semis Semis
2022 7.Va. Tech 1.Duke 2005 UNC Miami
2021 4.Georgia Tech 2.FSU 1980 UNC Virginia
2020 Aborted tournament due to COVID-19
2019 3.Duke 4.FSU 1954 UNC Virginia
2018 1.Virginia 6.UNC 1954 Duke Clemson
2017 5.Duke 3.Notre Dame 1954 UNC FSU
2016 1.UNC 2.Virginia 1954 Miami Notre Dame
2015 3.Notre Dame 5.UNC 2014 Duke Virginia
2014 1.Virginia 3.Duke 1954 Pitt NC State
2013 1.Miami 3.UNC 2005 Maryland NC State
2012 3.FSU 1.UNC 1992 Duke NC State
2011 2.Duke 1.UNC 1954 Clemson Va. Tech
2010 1.Duke 7.Georgia Tech 1954 Miami NC State
2009 3.Duke 4.FSU 1954 UNC Maryland
2008 1.UNC 3.Clemson 1954 Va. Tech Duke
2007 1.UNC 10.NC State 1954 BC Va. Tech
2006 1.Duke 3.Boston College 1954 UNC Wake
2005 3.Duke 5.Georgia Tech 1954 UNC NC State