Finding Challenge Partners For The ACC

The latest news in the world of sports came on Wednesday when the Big Ten and the Pac-12 announced that they would be forming a partnership where they will schedule games against each other in football, basketball, and all the Olympic Sports.

That's all fine and dandy, but as new members of the ACC, the obvious question is could this affect the ACC-Big Ten Challenge in basketball? It doesn't seem likely, but you never know. In addition, how does the move affect Notre Dame? Could this force the Irish to say, join a conference like the ACC? Again, it doesn't seem likely, but it could happen.

Now that these two conferences have a challenge worked out, is it possible that the ACC works out a similar deal with another conference? The most preferred option for the ACC would likely be the SEC. The conferences are close enough geographically, will have the same number of schools (eventually, anyway), and already play several inter-conference games (Clemson-South Carolina, Georgia Tech-Georgia, Florida State-Florida, Wake Forest-Vanderbilt). There also is the Chick-fil-A Kickoff every season in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta which usually involves an ACC-SEC match-up, as well as several bowl games that pair the ACC and SEC.

The talent levels are different, but if the ACC wants to prove itself, what better way to do it than against the almighty SEC? You have to wonder, though, if the two conferences even want to have a challenge like this. The SEC will argue that the conference schedule is already difficult enough and they don't need another major non-conference opponent.

The Big 12 could also be option. There's no real history between the two conferences, but the idea of playing Oklahoma or Texas would be intriguing for a team like Pitt. All the other schools in the Big 12 have also had good seasons in recent memory and could provide ACC teams with challenging games. It would also help keep the Backyard Brawl alive with West Virginia every season. But other than that, as I said above, there's no history between the two conferences and the distances between some of the schools in each conference is far enough that fans of the visiting school likely wouldn't travel.

The last option would be, of course, the Big East. But somehow I doubt that John Marinatto would want to face a conference that has raided the Big East twice and taken five schools. Obviously, for programs like Pitt and Syracuse, playing the Big East schools (the current ones, anyways) would allow Pitt to keep playing teams with whom they've built rivalries. If the challenge extended to basketball, it could be the marquee event of the early season as the ACC and the Big East are likely the two best conferences in the nation. But geography could become an issue with the Big East now reaching farther west with the additions of Boise State, San Diego State, SMU, and Houston.

Regardless of which one, I would like to see the ACC start a partnership of sorts with another power conference. It would add another marquee non-conference opponent each season in football, and while they may not really need it, provide another chance for a solid resume-building win in basketball.

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