The Notre Dame men’s basketball coaching staff will have plenty of time to scout its upcoming opponents before its first foray in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The ACC announced Notre Dame’s 18-game conference schedule Tuesday, and it features a home-and-home with North Carolina, a visit by Duke and Brey’s former boss, Mike Krzyzewski, a home game with former Big East partner Pittsburgh, and a road trip to another former Big East associate, Syracuse.
“I’m excited about the ACC, and I think our fans are excited because it’s new,” said Irish head coach Mike Brey last week following the basketball banquet.
“They know Carolina and Duke, and certainly Pitt and Syracuse and Louisville (which enters the ACC in 2014). I think this current team is excited that we’re getting in earlier than we thought.”
The Irish will play 10 ACC teams once and four teams in a home-and-home. In addition to North Carolina, the Irish will play Virginia, Georgia Tech and Boston College twice each. Georgia Tech and Boston College are permanent repeat opponents while the other two will rotate yearly.
Home tilts, in addition to the four repeat opponents, are against Duke, Clemson, Pittsburgh, North Carolina State and Virginia Tech. The Irish also will make road trips to Florida State, Miami, Maryland, Syracuse and Wake Forest.
Road games could prove to be more challenging in the ACC. The Irish are accustomed to playing in NBA arenas where the fans are more neutral.
“It’s campus buildings, and because of that, it’s going to be harder to win on the road in this league,” Brey said. “You’re going to take more bullets and more bad losses against a maybe a poor RPI team on the road because it’s a tougher atmosphere to play than All-State or Wells Fargo, where it’s a little sparse and our people get in there.”
Notre Dame’s all-time record against current ACC teams is 100-126, including a 2-19 mark versus Duke and a 4-16 record against North Carolina. The Irish have a winning record versus North Carolina State (4-3), Georgia Tech (6-2), Pittsburgh (31-27), Virginia Tech (3-1), Miami (8-7), Maryland (10-9) and Boston College (11-10). They’re on the other side of .500 against Florida State (0-1), Syracuse (19-25), Wake Forest (0-1), and Virginia (1-5).
Notre Dame has a 50-41 mark against current ACC schools at home and an 85-95 record at the 13 current ACC schools that have squared off against the Irish. Notre Dame has never played Clemson.
“I like going through Tobacco Road,” said Brey, who was a Duke assistant for eight seasons (1987-95). “It’s familiar territory to me.”
The Irish will beef up their non-conference schedule to help offset what might be lost RPI-wise against an ACC conference that has lost some cachet in recent years. Brey said Notre Dame will play Indiana and Ohio State, as well as another Big Ten opponent in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.
“They’re good power games and it’s good for our fan base,” said Brey of the Big Ten match-ups.
Baylor in Dallas is another possibility.
Brey also said he anticipates the ACC eventually landing Madison Square Garden for the ACC Tournament, although that is likely a couple of years down the road.
The challenge for the new ACC is to improve the profile of the league come NCAA tournament time. The ACC has sent just four teams to the NCAA tournament in each of the last two seasons.
“It would be a real failure on the part of our new league if we couldn’t get seven or eight bids this first year,” Brey said. “There is a vacuum of bids with the Big East breaking up, and this new ACC has got to get seven or eight bids right away because it would be a real PR nightmare if we had four or five bids again.”