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Tuesday / February 21.

Pitino: ACC Would ‘Benefit’ From Garden Tourney

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NEW YORK — Jim Boeheim isn’t alone in thinking that moving the ACC Tournament to Madison Square Garden is a good idea.

Louisville coach Rick Pitino believes the ACC would benefit from such a move, too.

“I don’t know if they would go for it, like Duke and  Carolina, but I think they would benefit greatly,” Pitino told following Louisville’s 74-55 victory over Villanova in the Big East Tournament quarterfinals.

He added: “I would love to see it, I don’t know if they can pull it off.”

A New York native, Pitino cited Louisville’s own experience in moving to the Big East in 2005 as evidence that ACC fans would eventually warm up to a Garden Party. Louisville will join the ACC in 2014.

“When we first started coming here to the Big East in 2005, we brought 400 people and turned back our tickets,” he said.

“Tonight everybody’s begging for tickets, all sold out, because the Louisville people who have never been to New York started experiencing Madison Square Garden and this tournament now were begging for tickets. And people who have given a lot of money to the university could not get a good seat.

“So that would be true of Florida State, Duke, Carolina, Virginia. Duke and Carolina have great history with the Garden, but the other teams like Miami and so forth, it’s culturally, socially entertainment-wise such a great trip for the fans.”

Pitino is a longtime Big East guy, having led Providence to the Final Four in 1987, and  advocated for the Catholic 7 keeping the Big East name, which they will.

He seemed inclined to say the Big East Tournament should remain at the Garden, but also noted, like the Syracuse assistant Adrian Autry did to, that the ACC will be full of former Big East outfits.

“I’m a Big East guy,” he said. “I think they deserve it [having the tournament at MSG] because of the Big East name. That being said, though, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, they’re part of the Big East. So that’s not for me to decide.

“We would love it to be in Madison Square Garden [with the ACC Tournament], we would love it.”

At that point, Pitino inserted his joke that he and Boeheim were dining at the same New York restaurant Tuesday night and Boeheim told him, “We’ll be eating at Denny’s next year.”

The ACC Tournament is committed to Greensboro through 2015, but after that Pitino half-jokingly said the Big East Tournament should move to Washington, D.C.

“I think because Georgetown’s one of the mainstays,” Pitino said with a smile, “they should go to the Verizon Center and we should come here.”


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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.