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SU fans getting to know the ACC culture

The Atlantic Coast Conference boasts 60 years of some of the nations most storied programs in college basketball history.
Syracuse (WSYR-TV) - The Atlantic Coast Conference boasts 60 years of some of the nations most storied programs in college basketball history.

The legendary ACC is about to write a new chapter when the Syracuse Orange enter league play this season.

SU fans may find themselves having to adapt not only to new teams, but to a new basketball culture as well.

"A lot of it is the southern culture. They're really into their sports," explained Mike Waters, a University of North Carolina graduate and the SU basketball beat writer for the Post-Standard. "You have state schools too. Kids grow up in North Carolina knowing they're either going to North Carolina State or the University of North Carolina. You pick those allegiances early on. The same with Florida State, it’s just something you grow up with down there."

Waters has been covering Orange basketball for the last 25 years, and has a book called The SU Fans' Survival Guide to the ACC.

He says SU fans are in for some real surprises, such as the ACC conference tournament. Orange fans will now have to head to Greensboro to watch their team compete in conference tournament play instead of heading to Madison Square Garden in New York City.

"It's a great vibrant city, larger than SU, some great shopping and hotels of course and the Southern fare is unreal, but is it New York, no,” Waters explained. “You're not going to be able to take the family to something on Broadway if Syracuse is playing in the semifinals Friday night."

One of the biggest differences SU basketball fans will notice is ACC arenas. Most of them seat about half of what the Carrier Dome can hold. Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium holds just under 10,000.

"I think our league is very unique in the sense that all the places are on campus as opposed to the Big East, where you go to Madison Square Garden and the Verizon Center, Wells Fargo," said Steve Donahue, Boston College head coach and former Cornell coach.

"SU fans are used to maybe going on the road and just getting tickets for the SU-South Florida game. That's not going to happen in the ACC, those arenas are smaller and the ACC schools fill them," Waters said.

"Syracuse, I think they are in for an eye opening experience,” Donahue said. “The basketball is dramatically different, not because it’s in the South, just because of the programs."

The former Cornell coach learned first hand a couple years ago, what it's like going from the northeast to the ACC when he took the Boston College job.

While SU fans and the team will have to adjust to life in the ACC, traditional ACC powerhouses such as UNC and Duke will have to adjust traveling north to play newly added teams to the conference.

"We can't call it Tobacco Road anymore unless we include South Bend, Syracuse and Pittsburgh,” said Roy Williams, UNC head coach. “The road just got a heck of a lot longer and a heck of a lot tougher."

SU opens conference play on Jan. 4 when it hosts Miami in the Dome.

One week later, the Orange welcome the UNC Tar Heels to the Dome on Jan. 11.

The Duke game in the Dome on Feb. 1 has already sold out.

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