Last month, the ACC announced that Notre Dame would join the conference in all sports except for football, in which the Fighting Irish inked an agreement to play five games against ACC teams each year. Having 15 (or 14.5?) teams means having to get creative with scheduling and tweak some previously set plans. A sport-by-sport breakdown follows:
When the Atlantic Coast Conference announced the acquisition of Pitt and Syracuse from the Big East, the conference also decided that each team would play a nine game football schedule. But after the scheduling agreement with Notre Dame, the conference changed its mind. Instead, it will return to an eight-game schedule.
Thus, future schedules will look much like the current ones. Each team will still play a full round-robin within its own division - Virginia will play Georgia Tech, Miami, UNC, Duke, Virginia Tech, and Pitt each year. Next, teams will stay with its current "natural rival." This is the fun rule that gives the Hoos the opportunity to beat up on Maryland yearly. Finally, each school will rotate through the other six teams in its opposite division, playing just one per year.
The policy was adopted to allow teams more flexibility in their out-of-conference scheduling; this was particularly important to teams that have yearly series scheduled with teams outside the ACC, such as Florida State's series with Florida or Georgia Tech's with Clemson. While the opportunity to bring in new opponents (and still have an open date to play an FCS team) is enticing for schools, seeing some conference opponents just once every six years is a major downside to the reversal.
Approximately once every three years, teams will play their ninth "conference-ish" game against the Fighting Irish - this matchup will count as an out-of-conference game and will not factor into the ACC standings.
The 18-game regular season stays pretty similar here as well. Each ACC team will still have two permanent home-and-home partners, and Virginia will stick with Maryland and Virginia Tech. Upon entry, Notre Dame will match up with Boston College and Georgia Tech. That leaves 12 teams to play with 14 games left to play them; thus, each school will have two more rotating home-and-home partners and see the remaining ten teams once each (five home and five away).
The ACC Tournament will get a makeover. All 15 teams will still qualify, with the top four records continuing to advance straight to the quarterfinals. The next five best records will have a "bye" to play on Thursday, while the lowest six seeds will play Wednesday. Here's how the first two days of the tournament now work:
Round 1 (Wednesday): Seeds 10 vs. 15, 11 vs 14, 12 vs. 13
Round 2 (Thursday): 5 vs. 10/15, 6 vs. 11/14, 7 vs. 12/13, 8 vs. 9
The quarterfinals remain on Friday, semis on Saturday, and final on Sunday.
The ACC also announced that it will use RPI to determine the best 12 teams that will participate in the ACC-Big 10 challenge. Can't we use the KenPom rankings? (Or, ya know, win-loss record?)
As if the postseason weren't complex enough before, there's a new added wrinkle to the ACC Tournament. The top ten teams from the regular season will now qualify and play in a six-day tournament. The first four days will consist of a double elimination format. Next, there will be two semifinal (single elimination) games on Saturday and the championship game on Sunday.
What the ACC did not announce is how it plans on constructing these two five-team double elimination pods. The obvious way to run this would be to have the bottom two teams play a single-elimination game on day one, then proceed with the four-team double elimination brackets we know and love, but that's not what the press release alludes to.
Google searches for how to run a five-team double elimination bracket turns up this result. The issue is that a team could play as many as eight games in six days on their way to the ACC title...and then would still have to turn around and prepare for the NCAA Tournament. The current ACC tournament's format (round-robin followed by single elimination championship) may not be the most valid way to crown a champion, but it succeeds in doing so simply and without causing burnout before the tournament. The new method seems like a lot to handle this late in the season.
Do the changes seem reasonable to you? And is adding Notre Dame in football, at the expense of a ninth ACC game, worth it?