- David M. Hale, ESPN Staff Writer
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The road to a conference title may have gotten a bit tougher, but Florida State basketball coach Leonard Hamilton said he's thrilled about the addition of Notre Dame to the ACC.
With the additions of Notre Dame, Syracuse and Pittsburgh from the Big East, the ACC soon will have 15 teams competing in basketball, including three of the five winningest in the sport's history.
"The ACC has always been known as a top basketball conference," Hamilton said. "Add Syracuse and Pittsburgh, and it makes it an elite conference. Now you bring Notre Dame in, and it makes an elite conference even greater. I don't know how much more excitement there could be in the league, but it's brought it to a new level that's off the Richter scale."
But while Syracuse, Notre Dame and Pittsburgh will add depth to a league that sent just five teams to the NCAA tournament a year ago, it also means the elite ACC teams will cycle through home-and-home dates on the schedule less often.
FSU athletics director Randy Spetman said it's likely that home-and-home series against teams like Duke and North Carolina will go from happening once every three years to once every six instead.
"Maybe we won't see Duke or North Carolina in here quite as often, but you'll see Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Notre Dame here, which are all sell-out games also," Spetman said. "So I think this is a real plus."
Hamilton said the added depth in the league is an overall benefit, too. Rather than relying on North Carolina and Duke to be the premier drawing cards for the ACC, Hamilton believes the increased competition will improve programs across the board.
"I like to see us get away from putting all that pressure on Duke and Carolina," Hamilton said. "There might be more parity where every conference game you play will be a great game.
"There's no doubt that you have some schools in our conference like Duke and Carolina and Syracuse that have earned the right to be in that elite status, but what's going to happen is they're going to pull a lot of the other conference teams up. You're going to see parity and it's going to be a competitive league from top to bottom."