It's been a while since the ACC was at the top of the basketball world. I'm talking conference depth here, and not just cherry picking off the power teams. Ken Pomeroy does the best job of measuring strength from top to bottom, and last year he had the ACC as the No. 5 conference. Two years ago the ACC was No. 4. For a high-major basketball-first conference, that's terrible.
But all of that is about to change.
Earlier this year I looked at the number of consensus top-100 players in each conference, and the ACC leads by a wide margin when you look at top-100 players per team. And most of these players are freshmen or sophomores. This also doesn't include the new ACC teams (Syracuse, Pitt and Notre Dame), who currently hold 29% of the top-100 recruits in the Big East. Once they join, the gap will grow larger.
This isn't to say that the ACC will dominate National Titles – there will always be elite teams from a wide array of conferences – but the talent is there to start putting a large number of teams into the NCAA Tournament. And the talent is there to start being competitive in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, a contest which the ACC won 10 straight times before dropping the past three.
And this year that gap is still growing. There are currently 75 players in ESPN's top-100 who have committed, and 17 of them are going to the ACC (including the new teams).
Starting next season, the ACC will be back on top. And it won't just be Duke and North Carolina. Not only are teams like NC State, Maryland, Georgia Tech and Florida State loading up on talent, but three top Big East teams will be joining as well.
Plus there's room for one more team.