I’ve been anticipating this weekend for the last three years.
The ACC Tournament is back in Atlanta this weekend for four days of exciting basketball and 12 fanbases that will sit amongst one another in Philips Arena, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. It’s hard to top an event where all of these schools are together because while we have our differences, I’m proud to hail from a conference where the other 11 schools really aren’t that bad.
I can’t even imagine how special these ACC Tournaments will be when they add the fans of Pittsburgh and Syracuse.
2009 was the last time this tournament was played in Atlanta, and it was a special weekend for me. Watching Florida State play for the conference championship against Duke was the final game I saw in person during my college years, and it was the culmination of four years of improvement within our basketball program. I had the chance to sit courtside and watch us beat North Carolina while being surrounded by family members of the Duke players, who were cheering for my team like they were students at the school, too.
I got to meet several of my idols as well. I got to meet Falcons wide receiver Harry Douglas, it was the first time I saw Matt Ryan in person and I even had the chance to say hello to referee Jamie Luckie, who our student section held in high regard (and I’m sure he felt the same way about us — OK, maybe not).
And did I mention that FSU played in the title game?
Three years after that fateful Sunday in the Georgia Dome where Duke’s basketball team treated us rather poorly, FSU has their sights on bigger things. It’s not about the ACC Tournament anymore; it’s all about, “How far can we go in the Big Dance?”
But, for me, it’s all about the camaraderie. It’s about seeing people I haven’t seen in years — some of them since 2009.
So, to my fellow ACC friends, welcome back to Atlanta. We might not see the tournament return to our fine city for a decade, so enjoy the Chick-Fil-A. We’ll be eating Bojangles in North Carolina the next few years.
And to the Florida State Seminoles, let’s win the whole thing this time around.