The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) has long been considered one of the top college basketball conferences in the country. Although Duke and North Carolina have had the most success, a total of five ACC teams have won the NCAA college basketball championship. The ACC was comprised of 8 member schools until the early 1990’s when Florida State joined the circuit. Since then, the conference has grown to 15 schools with the inclusion of several programs from the once dominant Big East Conference. In addition, Notre Dame is now a member of the ACC for every sport except football and hockey.
In recent years, the ACC’s stature as a football conference has started to improve. Some would argue that it has always been a top football conference–in fact, six ACC football programs have won at least a share of the national championship. The conference has a number of top flight baseball programs along with nationally ranked teams in ten other sports for men and women. To the average sports fan, however, the ACC is, and likely always will be symbolic of college basketball at its highest level.
THE ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT:
Given the high profile of ACC basketball it’s not a surprise that their postseason tournament is one of the most eagerly anticipated of any conference. The competitive dynamic of the ACC basketball tournament is always interesting since in any given year several teams know that they’ve already earned an ‘at large’ bid to the NCAA tournament. For these teams, the ACC tournament becomes almost an afterthought–what sports bettors refer to as a ‘lookahead situation’. Since teams in this situation can make only marginal improvement in their NCAA tournament status they frequently play unfocused basketball.
That’s not the case for teams ‘on the bubble’ of NCAA at-large qualification or teams that have no hope of receiving an ‘at large’ bid. ‘Bubble’ teams can strengthen their case to the selection committee by advancing deep into the competition, hopefully knocking off some of the top teams along the way. And then there’s the automatic bid awarded to the winner of the ACC tournament–there are instances where mediocre teams can ‘peak at the right time’ and win their way into the ‘Big Dance.
WATCHING THE ACC BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT:
The 2015 ACC basketball tournament host city is Greensboro, North Carolina–the city has been the tournament host 28 times and including this year will have hosted five of the last six years. With the influx of new programs into the conference over the past few years, the tournament will move around more often going forward. Stops at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC (2016) and the Barclays Center in Brooklyn (2017-2018) are next on deck.
Fortunately, for college basketball fans unable to attend live there is extensive television coverage of the ACC tournament. Preliminary tournament games will air on one of ESPN’s networks and stream live on the ESPN3 online platform. The ACC’s syndication network will also feature early round games–the conference has a robust streaming presence, but is unlikely to provide online coverage of these tournament contests. Semifinal and final rounds will air on ESPN with live streaming on ESPN 3.
OTHER WAYS TO WATCH THE ACC HOOPS TOURNAMENT:
If you’re a cable/satellite subscriber in the United States, you’re all set to watch the ACC conference basketball tournament online via ESPN 3. If you’re not a subscriber or live out of the United States, there are a number of alternatives for live streaming. ESPN offers live streaming subscriptions on a short or long term basis in certain foreign countries. For US basketball fans, ESPN programming is available via certain broadband Internet providers such as Verizon FIOS. Given the trend toward ‘cord cutting’ among affluent, well educated and tech-savvy viewers you can expect ESPN to continue to expand streaming access to non-subscribers in years to come.
You can also watch the ACC basketball tournament via one of the many live sports streams available online. You can find these live streams for individual games or track down a 24/7 ESPN network feed. A directory of live college basketball streams including ACC tournament games is available at sites like Stream2Watch, FirstRowSports, and SportsStreamTV. It’s a good idea to start with a Google search–live sports streaming sites change their web address from time to time, and new sites come online often.