After a relatively underwhelming showing by the ACC last season, Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Mike Brey has an idea to get the conference back on top of the college hoops world: expand the conference schedule.
Speaking at a Positive Coaching Alliance event on Monday in Chicago, Brey offered his take on how to strengthen an ACC that sent just six teams to the NCAA Tournament in 2014 (via Sports Illustrated):
“One of the things I actually floated at the ACC meetings that’s been getting shot down, but I’m going to stay with it, is 20 league games,” Brey said after a Positive Coaching Alliance event Monday at the Willis Tower. “You remember the Big East, we were the first league to go to 18 league games, from 16 to 18. And in the league meetings, I’ll never forget the argument, the Georgetown athletic director said, ‘We can’t do that, because in those 32 games, our teams will be 16-16, instead of in the non-league games we would be 28-4. It’ll kill our RPI.’”
Brey disagrees with that idea, suggesting that more conference games means more opportunities for bubble teams to earn marquee wins. Last season, the Fighting Irish played 18 conference games in their first season as a member of the ACC, posting a 6-12 record as part of a disappointing 15-17 campaign.
That team didn’t have its leading scorer, Jerian Grant, for most of the season due to academic issues, and ultimately wasn’t close to reaching the postseason. Brey seems worried that too many teams on the bubble will ultimately miss out due to the lack of marquee wins, though, and that is something an extended conference schedule could address.
“Let’s keep mixing the RPIs and keep giving those bubble teams another shot at Duke, another shot at Carolina,” Brey said. “That’s my biggest concern: Can we get enough bids in this damn league?”
In 2011, the ACC sent 11 teams to the NCAA Tournament. With Louisville joining the conference, there should be a number of talented teams entering next season, so don’t be surprised if more than six bids go to the ACC in 2015, regardless of changes to scheduling.