ACC expands basketball schedule to 18 league games

acarter@newsobserver.comDecember 15, 2011 

With the addition of Syracuse and Pittsburgh to the ACC, it seemed only a matter of time before the league expanded its regular-season basketball schedule. What had been expected became a reality today, as the Atlantic Coast Conference announced it would move from a 16- to an 18-game conference schedule for the 2012-13 season.

The expanded schedule will go into effect next season in both men’s and women’s basketball, regardless of whether Syracuse and Pitt have officially joined the ACC by then. It’s unclear when those schools will leave the Big East.

“Our member institutions have been talking about this increase for a while and knowing our league will be expanding to 14 in the future, we’ve decided to move to an 18-game conference schedule next year, regardless of our membership number,” ACC Commissioner John Swofford said in a statement. “The additional conference games create a more equitable schedule and we’ve received significant feedback from our fans for more conference games.”

Now the ACC will have to determine how to formulate an 18-game schedule. Before the league expanded beyond nine teams, each school played one another twice – once at home and once on the road – during the regular season.

The conference’s expansion to 12 teams in 2003 brought with it an uneven basketball schedule, one in which the ACC paired each team with two permanent partners. Since adopting that format, teams have played their permanent partners twice each season. On a rotating basis, they have played three other teams twice, and the ACC’s other six teams once.

ACC spokeswoman Amy Yakola said discussions have started already about how to construct an 18-game schedule. The league is likely to have a plan in place by the conclusion of its winter meetings in February, she said.

In the meantime, the announcement of an 18-game schedule is expected to help teams schedule non-conference games for next season. North Carolina coach Roy Williams said recently that the future of his team’s series with Kentucky was in doubt because he didn’t know how many conference games the Tar Heels would have to play.

Williams was unavailable for comment today, a UNC basketball spokesperson said. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, meanwhile, lauded the move to an 18-game schedule. He also called for the league to pair each ACC team with one permanent partner, instead of two. Duke’s permanent partners in basketball have been North Carolina and Maryland.

“I am 100 percent in favor of moving to an 18-game conference schedule, whether Pitt or Syracuse join us next year or the following year,” Krzyzewski said in a statement. “…I hope that when we schedule in the future, we also end up with only one permanent partner, which would help develop the overall brand of our conference better than having two, three or four permanent partners.”

Carter: 919-829-8944

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