Every year since 1954, all of the teams in the ACC have gathered together for the ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament, hoping to capture arguably the most prestigious conference title that college basketball has to offer.
When this year’s tournament kicks off next Tuesday, it will be the first time that this event has taken place in the state of New York, as the members of the ACC will battle under the lights of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. In fact, it will be the first time that the tournament has taken place north of Maryland, and just the 13th time it has ventured outside of North Carolina.
The rich history of the ACC Tournament is embedded in North Carolina. The first 22 installments were played in “The Old North State,” with the first 13 of those being played in NC State’s Reynolds Coliseum. When the tournament left Reynolds for the first time, it didn’t move far, finding a new home in Greensboro Coliseum.
The first ACC Tournament played in Greensboro, commonly referred to as “Tourney Town,” was in 1967. Since then, Greensboro has hosted the event 26 times, more than double that of anywhere else. In those 26 years, 2,376,089 people have taken in an ACC battle inside the doors of the Greensboro Coliseum.
Now the ACC is slowly moving away from the storied Greensboro Coliseum. Last year the tournament was in Washington, D.C. Now it finds itself in Brooklyn, where it will reside for two years before returning to North Carolina in 2019, when it will be held in Charlotte. Greensboro gets the tournament back in 2020, after a four-year break.
The big cities bring a lot of appeal to the ACC, mainly in terms of revenue. The ACC will make more money off of a tournament played in Washington or Brooklyn versus a showcase in Greensboro. But Greensboro brings something else to the table, something maybe bigger and more important than the buck. Greensboro brings a passion for ACC basketball, and a tradition of the sport unlike any other.
People in Greensboro care about the tournament. It makes sense. The city sits in the middle of four ACC schools, all of which are within an hour-and-a-half-drive away. The people of Greensboro are fans of all four, and love their ACC basketball. The closest school to the Barclays Center is Boston College, which sits three-and-a-half hours away, and most schools will have a full day of travel to get there.
When the tournament is taking place in Greensboro, the city stops to watch. Everything for that week in March revolves around the tournament. Teachers show the games in class, every member of the local media is at the Coliseum and it truly is the talk of the town. The people care, and it makes the tournament a more personal and exciting experience.
Greensboro holds a storied past when it comes to March. Some of the greatest moments in tournament history have taken place inside Greensboro Coliseum. Perhaps the most notable of these is a game that should sit well in the hearts of NC State fans everywhere.
In what may be one of the greatest college basketball games ever played, the top-ranked Wolfpack took on No. 4 Maryland in the championship game of the 1974 ACC Tournament. In front of a crowd of 15,541, the Pack beat the Terrapins in an overtime thriller, 103-100. That State team, led by David Thompson, would go on to win the NCAA Championship with a run that started in the heart of North Carolina.
That game may be the most memorable to ever be played in Greensboro, but it certainly isn’t the only great contest played on the turquoise-lined court in the Coliseum. The ACC Tournament belongs in Greensboro. The city is filled with a history and tradition of ACC basketball, and when the conference’s biggest event is away from the city, it just isn’t the same.