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Changes in Latitude

That 1976 ACC tournament was the first time the event was staged outside North Carolina.

"Finally getting it in another venue gave other teams a better chance at winning," Rome said. "When played in Greensboro, it gave the Carolina teams somewhat of an advantage. To go to Tobacco Road always seemed like a road game for us."

Buck Williams
Buck Williams
Maryland, led by Buck Williams, right, denies Virginia and Ralph Sampson, left, an ACC title in 1981. (AP)


Naturally, not everyone is as convinced of the benefits or rotating sites. Before this season, Roy Williams said while it's great to give other cities a chance to host, "time stopped" for the ACC tournament in Greensboro.

"It remains to be seen whether time will stop in all the other places," he added, "and if it doesn't, I'm one of those old-fashioned guys: I like to go around and see the marquees on all the hotels and restaurants saying, 'Good luck in the ACC tournament,' as opposed to people in town not even knowing the ACC tournament is going on."

Gary Williams acknowledges the importance of the event in the South -- "When you play that in North Carolina," he said, "that is a religion down there" -- but was quick to point out the changing face of the league. Next season, when the addition of Boston College rounds out the 12-team conference, the ACC will comprise eight schools from outside North Carolina.

With so much on the line -- from NCAA tournament positioning to lifelong memories, good and bad -- this weekend's locale will be welcome for some.

"I have concerns about Carolina, Duke, N.C. State and Wake Forest being able to stay in their own beds and eat their own food every time we go to Carolina" for the tournament, Gary Williams said. "I have concerns, the way it's set up, those teams get to play road games where they don't have to get on a plane; they don't have to get on a bus, really.

"Our fans shouldn't be the fans that always have to spend money, always have to travel. There should be balance; the league aims for a level playing field. And up here, it's our turn."


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