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Air Carolina

By Ran Northam Posted January 10, 2014 at 10:49 am

Before the ACC season is over, the UNC men’s basketball team will have traveled 4,534 miles round trip. But is that really so much more now in “the new ACC”?

This weekend, Carolina makes one of its longest trips of the year to conference newcomer Syracuse. However, it’s not the longest journey.

Miami and Boston College remain the campuses furthest away from Chapel Hill, with Notre Dame and Syracuse falling in line respectively. Pittsburgh is in the middle of the pack, and the Maryland-Louisville switch will only add 322 miles round trip.

Looking back at the 12-member years, we see what the expansion has created.

Last year, UNC traveled 5,606 miles—when you have to play Boston College and Miami on the road in the same year, that’s a lot of traveling. But now with four extra members, having to play those two schools in the same year—and for that matter every year—is off the table. Mileage saved.

In the 2011-12 season, Carolina traveled 3,606 miles as it visited the five campuses closest to it as well as Maryland, Florida State, and Miami. Can you imagine if instead of Miami, UNC had played Pitt—337 miles less—or Syracuse—187 miles less?

The 2010-11 season was another BC-Miami doozy and netted the Tar Heels 5,156 miles in travel.

With the expansion, there is an extra game to which Carolina has to travel compared to the old makeup, but now there are options. Instead of having to go to Miami every year or even every other year, you can spread that out.

Now, how this is going to help them play, I have no idea. This year’s Tar Heels can’t hit their free throws at home (50.4% in three games lost at home) and they can’t hit them on the road (50% in two games lost on the road). I don’t see the travel distance playing any factor on this team, but it’s gotten into the minds of teams before, and it will likely do the same again.

But the argument that adding these four other schools to the ACC is adding more travel distance is irrelevant. The longest distances were already there, so I see the conference expansion as a win for the gas tank.

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