Virginia Tech and Miami entered the ACC together in the spring of 2004. The merger hinged not on basketball, or volleyball, cross country or tennis for that matter.
No, ACC expansion was about one sport, the cash-cow sport — football.
Conclusions are elusive, advances and retreats fluid. But this is clear:
ACC basketball membership has most benefitted Virginia Tech.
Not to suggest the Hokies tower above the Eagles and Hurricanes. They don't.
In the last 15 seasons, Boston College has won six NCAA tournament games, Miami four and Virginia Tech one.
Since joining the ACC, the Hokies are 51-51 in conference games, the Eagles 44-42, the Hurricanes 38-64.
But consider from whence Virginia Tech came.
In the seven seasons before grabbing the ACC lifeline, the Hokies labored for three in the Atlantic 10 and four in the Big East. Combined conference record: 37-75. No NCAA or NIT bids.
Meanwhile, Boston College and Miami were thriving in the Big East, each routinely winning 10 or more league games.
Tech's revival starts with coaching. Seth Greenberg is a considerable upgrade from Ricky Stokes and Bobby Hussey.
But there's no denying the ACC's southern roots and more equitable television packages made his job easier.
The Hokies never appeared on ESPN's Big Monday, the network's weekly ode to the Big East, and according to Tech's web archives, only seven of its regular-season games were televised during those four Big East years.
This season's number is 22.
Now consider attendance. More jazzed about the ACC (Duke and North Carolina) than Big East (Georgetown and Syracuse), Tech fans flock to games.
In their final Big East season, the Hokies' average home attendance for conference games was 7,044. Last year's norm was 9,845, and seven of the eight were sellouts (9,847).
More TV exposure + larger crowds = more money.
In its final academic year in the Big East, 2003-04, Virginia Tech's annual filings to the U.S. Department of Education reported basketball revenue of $2.354 million and expenses of $2.587 million, a $233,000 deficit.