Basketball schools unite: What’s good for the Big East is good for the ACC and vice versa.

For the second year in a row, the ACC was not represented on the final Monday of the college basketball season, despite confounding all expectations in the postseason. Not all is lost.

Watching Connecticut repeat as NCAA champion — with ease, in a 75-60 thumping of Purdue — may have been hard to watch, but it wasn’t the worst thing for the ACC, because in an increasingly football-dominated world, what’s good for the Big East is good for the ACC. And vice versa.

The two conferences are competitors, and rivals, and the ACC continues to gaze longingly at the Big East’s long-term lease at Madison Square Garden, but they’re linked by more than strong opinions about Jim Boeheim.

They are the last conferences standing that still prioritize basketball ahead of football, men’s and women’s both, spiritually if not financially in the case of the ACC. There’s a reason the Old Big East’s football schools ended up migrating to the ACC; they are indeed kindred spirits during the winter.

With Connecticut’s latest title, an unstoppable juggernaut that was never truly threatened, the two conferences have each won eight national championships since the Big Ten or Pac-12 won a single one. (And that doesn’t count UConn’s 2014 title, during its brief exile to the American.)

Even on the margins, the ACC and Big East are asking the same questions about why the selection process didn’t break in favor of Pittsburgh or Seton Hall. It’s not that they were unjustly excluded; it’s asking whether the selection criteria identifies the most worthy teams, and why it seems to undervalue the ACC and Big East in favor of other conferences.

That’s a question North Carolina athletic director Bubba Cunningham may try to answer during his year in charge of the NCAA men’s basketball committee. There’s some low-hanging fruit, if he can muster the political capital: Getting rid of the arbitrary nonsense of quadrants would be a good start.

Finding a way to tweak the NET, so it better measures the quality of a team’s wins and isn’t an Island of Dr. Moreau concatenation of uncapped efficiency margin and whatever else got thrown into that Brunswick stew of a secret formula, would be an even better contribution.

Either way, if both conferences felt aggrieved on Selection Sunday, they’re both feeling good on the last Monday.

The ACC accounted for a quarter of the Sweet 16 and had at least one team standing for the seventh time in the past nine Final Fours, in line with what has become the league’s habitual postseason overachievement. This time, N.C. State carried the flag to the finish line, the sixth different ACC school to make a Final Four since 2016.

And the Big East only got three teams in, but all three of them made the Sweet 16 and one of them is the national champion again, the first repeat champion in 16 years.

In a just, proper world, where college basketball was properly valued and the entire world of college sports hadn’t been polluted by terminally football-brained nonsense, even as women’s basketball has never been more popular and the Men’s Final Four remains the signature event on the NCAA calendar, the ACC and Big East alike would be properly compensated and lionized for their basketball success.

All but three of the past 15 champions — Kansas in 2022, Baylor in 2021 and Kentucky in 2012 — and all but six of the past 23 have come from either the ACC or Big East (counting UConn’s 2014 title as Big East in spirit if not in name). That’s 17 more champions than the Big Ten and Pac-12 have produced, combined, since 2000.

And it’s not just one school: Connecticut. Virginia. Villanova. North Carolina. Duke. Louisville and Syracuse in the Big East, Maryland in the ACC. Just as the schools in these conferences have migrated and mixed and mingled, their fates remain inseparable.

The Big East has already been torn apart once. The ACC may be next. For the moment, Connecticut’s latest title is a sign that even as things threaten to change for the worse, the power in college basketball remains in the same hands.

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