You’re not going to believe this, but the ACC is good at basketball.
The conference swept Friday’s Sweet 16 action, four victories that claimed half the remaining bracket all for itself. Virginia will face Syracuse Sunday in one Elite Eight pairing, followed immediately by North Carolina and Notre Dame in the other. Those games will feed into an all-ACC Final Four matchup, which guarantees the ACC will play for college basketball’s national championship next Monday night.
The ACC playing for national championships in major men’s sports is a recurring theme these days.
The league is looking to defend in basketball — Duke took down Wisconsin last year — and baseball after Virginia snapped the ACC’s 59-year baseball championship drought last June.
Basketball, baseball are well and good. But what about football?
The ACC has never been stronger at the top on the gridiron, either.
Florida State is a recent national champion and a perennial contender under Jimbo Fisher. Clemson has elbowed its way into the national elite, coming one touchdown shy of a national championship in January and figures to be a strong contender for preseason No. 1 in 2016.
Georgia Tech is a year removed from an Orange Bowl victory. North Carolina is ascending under Larry Fedora. Duke has never been better longer than it is now under David Cutcliffe. Pittsburgh and Louisville are on solid footing under their respective coaches. And many pundits declared the ACC the winner of this winter’s coaching carousel after Virginia pulled Bronco Mendenhall away from BYU, Syracuse plucked Dino Babers away from Bowling Green, Virginia Tech hired perhaps the fastest rising young coach in Justin Fuente and Miami snagged the most accomplished free agent on the market in former Hurricane Mark Richt.
Conference strength is cyclical — it wasn’t long ago the SEC claimed reigning champions in football, basketball and baseball — but right now it’s the ACC’s turn to wear the crown.