Scott Says

Fowler: 5-day ACC tournament will have different feel

sfowler@charlotteobserver.comFebruary 25, 2014 

The ACC men’s basketball tournament will have a different look this year, and not just because Syracuse will be playing in it for the first time.

“It’s a marathon now,” ACC commissioner John Swofford said. “It will be a very different tournament.”

The tournament will open March 12 in Greensboro Coliseum, as it goes from four days to five to accommodate 15 teams for the first time. That first day will feature the bottom six teams in the standings – seeds Nos. 10-15 – but the upside is that it will be quite a bargain.

The ACC has spun off the first day of the tournament into its own orbit, selling single-day tickets for $35 that include all three games and a concert by country star Scotty McCreery between games Nos. 2 and 3.

“That first day hopefully will be an opportunity for people to be able to come who haven’t been able to get to the ACC tournament before, especially some of our younger fans,” Swofford said.

The four top teams won’t open play until Friday and the tournament will conclude on Selection Sunday as usual. For a team in the ACC’s bottom six to win, it would have to win five games in five days – much like the run Kemba Walker and Connecticut made famous in the 2011 Big East tournament.

• Speaking of Walker, that was a big step when the Bobcats won a game Saturday when big man Al Jefferson had one of his occasional off nights and scored only six points. Walker filled the breach with 31. He is quietly having a superb season.

• With Bank of America Stadium hosting an international soccer match on Aug. 2, one of the possible dates for the Carolina Panthers’ annual free “Fan Fest” day was taken away. But Panthers president Danny Morrison said Fan Fest – one of the team’s most popular free offerings – will still be held this year. The date has not yet been determined but will likely still be in early August.

• While Swofford would not say whether he thought the controversial call at the end of Saturday night’s Duke-Syracuse game was right or wrong, he did say: “It was a great day for the ACC.”

“A little drama’s not all bad in the whole scheme of things,” Swofford said.

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim was ejected after throwing a tantrum when Syracuse’s C.J. Fair was called for a charge instead of Duke’s Rodney Hood for a block with 10 seconds to go. Fair’s layup went in and a no-call would have meant the game was tied. A foul on Hood would have given Fair a chance at a go-ahead free throw.

I thought Hood should have been called for a block and that Boeheim had a legitimate point. But I also thought Boeheim did his team a big disservice by losing his cool, getting two quick technicals and erasing what was still a small chance at winning the game.

Swofford seemed to not be bothered by the ruckus, saying, “It sure garnered a lot of attention. Those two Duke-Syracuse games have been terrific games for those two programs and for the ACC – a great new rivalry has been developed right out of the chute. ... So you just move on.”

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