Right now you can make the argument Syracuse is the best team in the country. You'd get push-back from Arizona fans, mostly, but at this point the undefeated Orange are looking pretty impressive and certainly like a top-three team, minimally. This group -- which has a freshman stud at point guard -- has beaten away Baylor, Minnesota, California, Indiana and Villanova. It's 13-0 overall heading into this weekend's ACC debut against Miami at the Carrier Dome.
Yes, Syracuse is now a member of the ACC. And it's got a good shot at winning the league; as of today, you'd figure only Duke has a reasonable chance of besting Jim Boeheim's ball club.
But here's what interesting about this season and Syracuse: If it wins the ACC regular-season title, it would become only the second team in more than 23 years to do so in its circumstance. That specific circumstance being winning a major conference in a first year of residence within said conference.
Mike Waters, who writes for the Post-Standard of Syracuse, did a terrific job compiling every instance of a team joining a major league since 1991. In total, we've had 23 programs make a leap into the ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Big East, Big 12 or Pac-8/10/12 since 1990. Basically one program per year hops into a new power conference. And the only regular-season champ in those given leagues for a first-year member was Arkansas, back in '91-92.
ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas said Syracuse might be better positioned than most teams that switch conferences.
"If you look at those teams, how many had been league champions in their old league in the past 10 years?'' Bilas said. "Syracuse is a power. You don't often see the power of a league switch leagues. It doesn't happen that often. Usually, teams in a power position in a league remain in that league.''
That Syracuse would open ACC play against Miami is somewhat ironic. Miami played in the Big East from 1994 to 2004 before leaving for the ACC. So Miami has been the newbie in two power leagues.
Since 1990, the ACC has added four schools -- Florida State, Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College. Florida State made its ACC debut in 1992. The Seminoles went 11-5 and finished second in the league, but Florida State still has never won the ACC's regular-season title and it wasn't until 2012 for the Seminoles to win the ACC Tournament's trophy.
Pittsburgh and Notre Dame, the other newcomers to the ACC, are 12-1 and 9-4, respectively this season. And, via Waters' story, here's the list of those who took on the new challenge and how they fared in their first season in a major conference.
|Florida State (ACC)||1991-92||11-5||2nd|
|Virginia Tech (ACC)||2004-05||8-8||t-4th|
|Boston College (ACC)||2005-06||11-5||3rd|
|West Virginia (Big 12)||2012-13||6-12||8th|
|Penn State (Big Ten)||1992-93||2-16||11th|
|Nebraska (Big Ten)||2011-12||4-14||t-11th|
|Miami (Big East)||1991-92||1-17||10th|
|Rutgers (Big East)||1995-96||6-12||6th in BE7|
|West Virginia (Big East)||1995-96||7-11||4th in BE6|
|Notre Dame (Big East)||1995-96||4-14||6th in BE6|
|Virginia Tech (Big East)||2000-01||2-14||7th in East|
|Marquette (Big East)||2005-06||10-6||t-4th|
|Cincinnati (Big East)||2005-06||8-8||8th|
|Louisville (Big East)||2005-06||6-10||t-11th|
|DePaul (Big East)||2005-06||5-11||t-13th|
|South Florida (Big East)||2005-06||1-15||16th|
|South Carolina (SEC)||1991-92||3-13||6th in East|
|Texas A&M (SEC)||2012-13||7-11||11th|