In an era when the NCAA tournament awarded just one berth per conference, the ACC transformed the sport with its own tournament -- to identify its champion (and its NCAA championship contender) -- immediately after regular season play. In the years since it first launched the conference tournament, the ACC has showcased many of the game's all-time greats, from David Thompson, Ralph Sampson, Michael Jordan and Tim Duncan to coaches Dean Smith, Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Valvano and Roy Williams. It has also influenced innovations like the shot clock and three-point line.
"The Tournament: A History of ACC Men's Basketball Presented by New York Life" chronicles this in a new multi-part documentary from ESPN Films and the ACC Network (ACCN).
Through exclusive footage and interviews with more than 160 players, coaches and media members who have been a part of the ACC tournament since its beginnings, the series explores the inception, transformation and impact of arguably the most storied, significant and successful conference in the history of men's college basketball, and its tournament on entire eras of the game.
The series debuts Monday, Feb. 7, with Episodes 1 and 2 airing back-to-back at 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. ET on ACCN. Two episodes will air each week through March 7.
"The Tournament: A History of ACC Men's Basketball Presented by New York Life" episode details
Monday, Feb. 7, 9 p.m. ET, ACCN
When an Indiana native named Everett Case arrives in Raleigh in the mid-1940s to become the basketball coach at North Carolina State, his vision spearheads not just the rise of the sport at his school and in the region, but the start of an athletic conference that will change college basketball forever.
Monday, Feb. 7, 10 p.m. ET, ACCN
While Everett Case is the ACC's original driving force, he's not the only icon on Tobacco Road to establish a legacy in the conference's early years. From North Carolina's Frank McGuire to Wake Forest's Bones McKinney and Vic Bubas at Duke, new coaches emerge to challenge the early success of Case. It all precedes a final poignant moment of triumph for him in 1965 at the only home the tournament ever knew up to then.
Monday, Feb. 14, 9 p.m. ET, ACCN
After a rough start, North Carolina's Dean Smith comes to be known for both dominance and dignity, playing a central role in desegregating the ACC with the recruitment of Charlie Scott. Scott is UNC's first African-American scholarship player and the star on some of Smith's greatest teams in the late 1960s.
Monday, Feb. 14, 10 p.m. ET, ACCN
While the conference tournament is captivating many by the early 1970s, it can be just as frustrating and even heartbreaking for great teams that don't win it, and thus miss out on a chance to play in the NCAA tournament. An intense and high-impact rivalry develops between Maryland and North Carolina State, capped by the finale of the 1974 ACC tournament in arguably the greatest college basketball game ever -- and a battle that helps shape the future of the sport.
Monday, Feb. 21, 9 p.m. ET, ACCN
In the mid-to-late 1970s, the ACC continues to be the greatest showcase of talent and drama in all of college basketball. Dean Smith's North Carolina teams may be the class of the conference, but rivals also flourish, including a Virginia team in 1976 led by Wally Walker, and a Duke program that re-emerges with a championship run in 1978 followed by a controversial title two years later.
Monday, Feb. 21, 10 p.m. ET, ACCN
As the ACC thrives thanks to its groundbreaking tournament and the power of television, 7-foot-4 Ralph Sampson enters the conference as one of the most heralded recruits in college basketball history. The Virginia center earns national player of the year honors three times, but never wins the ACC tournament. Meanwhile, Dean Smith earns two more conference titles, and a national championship in 1982 with freshman guard Michael Jordan. The next year, a colorful, charismatic coach named Jim Valvano rides the momentum of an unlikely ACC title to one of the most memorable NCAA runs ever.
Monday, Feb. 28, 9 p.m. ET, ACCN
As the 1980s continue, familiar and new faces alike define the ACC. After previous ACC tournament heartbreaks, Maryland's Lefty Driesell and Georgia Tech's Bobby Cremins both seek redemption. All the while, Mike Krzyzewski survives early calls for his job, turns up the heat on the Duke-North Carolina rivalry and resurrects Duke into a perennial title contender.
Monday, Feb. 28, 10 p.m. ET, ACCN
At Duke, Coach K puts together one of the most iconic teams in ACC history with Christian Laettner, Grant Hill and Bobby Hurley. Wake Forest seeks a return to glory led by Randolph Childress and Tim Duncan, and Dean Smith's extraordinary career ends in memorable fashion with a title in 1997.
Episode 9 (1998 - 2008)
Monday, Mar. 7, 9 p.m. ET, ACCN
As a new century dawns, Duke is more dominant than ever, winning an unprecedented five straight ACC tournament titles and seven in eight years with a core of stars headlined by Shane Battier, Jay Williams and JJ Redick. Meanwhile, Roy Williams rejuvenates the Carolina program that his mentor Dean Smith once made standard, and Clemson's pursuit of an elusive ACC championship continues.
Episode 10 (2009 - 2020)
Monday, Mar. 7, 10 p.m. ET, ACCN
The changing college sports landscape brings the conference to 15 member institutions, with Florida State, Miami and Notre Dame each earning their first ACC championships. Virginia's Tony Bennett and Duke phenom Zion Williamson each bring new excitement before the unimaginable happens.