For the second season in a row, the ACC Tournament was won by a team from Florida.
I’ll give you a second to let that sink in.
The day after the big storyline was two teams — Syracuse and Louisville — dueling for the Big East crown that would be departing for the ACC next season, North Carolina stood as the only team left to keep the ACC title from getting away from Tobacco Road for the second consecutive year. Last year, it was Florida State who took down the Tar Heels and, for the first time in conference history, took the ACC Tournament trophy south of the Georgia border.
It was a different year, but the same result for UNC. And this time, it was the Miami Hurricanes that earned the title for the Sunshine State.
And the way it happened was all too familiar.
In 2012, the Seminoles hosted the Tar Heels in a regular-season game that was entirely out of hand. They thrashed Carolina 90-57 on Jan. 14, only to beat them again in the finals of the ACC Tournament. This year, it was Miami who doled out the punishment, winning 87-61 in Coral Gables before following up that beatdown with another win Sunday against UNC to steal the title in front of tens of thousands of the Tar Heel faithful.
UNC fans probably won’t be vacationing in Florida any time soon.
There’s plenty of reason to believe the Seminoles and Hurricanes won’t be going anywhere in the future, too. Sure — FSU took a step back this season, having lost six seniors from their squad and returning few veterans to mentor the slew of young talent that was setting foot onto a college court for the first time. But think about how bad FSU’s “bad” seasons were before the Leonard Hamilton era. 3-13? 2-14? Sure.
This year? Their worst was a 9-9 ACC record. If that’s as bad as it gets, then the next three years are going to be a lot of fun for the ‘Noles.
Miami’s future looks bright as well. They’ll have a rebuilding year in 2013-14 that will closely resemble the season FSU just finished, but if head coach Jim Larranaga can recruit talent to play for him on the heels (no pun intended) of this ACC title, they’ll be a contender again soon. And I believe he will, because if he did it at George Mason, he can do it at Miami.
As the shiny new objects — Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Louisville and Notre Dame — get ready to join the conference and make competition a whole lot better, the ACC will see a huge jump in strength. But for just the second time in 60 years, two straight ACC titles have gone to schools outside the state of North Carolina. This is the first time both of those schools have been from the same state.
So come and get it, Tobacco Road. Florida’s two programs are building a nice little trophy case.