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Syracuse vs. the ACC: The #NARRATIVE that just won’t end

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We thought this adjustment period was over. Guess not...

NCAA Basketball: Final Four-Syracuse vs North Carolina Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Syracuse Orange fans can manufacture plenty of enemies, both real and imagined.

The national media folks that didn’t go to Newhouse, Georgetown, #PLATINUM uniforms, Clemson, man-to-man defense, t-shirt shortages, both the cities of Greensboro and Omaha... it’s a long list.

But one that we never figured we’d have to add to that ever-evolving collection of names is the ACC, our home since July 1, 2013.

That’s not to say it’s the league itself that’s against us. John Swofford’s fine, I guess. And the league offices probably don’t have a formal anti-Syracuse stance on the books, either. But if you’ve spent any time on Twitter lately (note: never do this), there’s been a rising tide of certain — not all -- North Carolina media voices that are happy to fuel this non-existent fire into a reality among Tobacco Road’s long-time observers.

The most recent instance of this nonsense is what birthed this article.

How is this still a thing?

In a way, we set ourselves up for it. When it was announced Syracuse would be leaving its home in the Big East, Jim Boeheim was not pleased. He said things about Denny’s. The once small-time culture around the ACC didn’t love the idea of adding Syracuse and Boeheim’s bluster, despite the fact that they’d already expanded their footprint from Miami to Boston less than a decade earlier.

But that was just some early feeling each other out. This always happens when expanding a group. The idea was that eventually “them” becomes “us” and we all move on toward a promising future together. See the SEC and Pac-12. The Big 12’s seemingly embraced West Virginia. The Big Ten may not care for Maryland or Rutgers, but those schools also don’t contribute much anyway (wait, is THIS the problem for Syracuse?).

On the field of play, it’s largely true that we’re all fine with one another. But among select media that covers the conference, not so much. The “us” vs. “them” also doesn’t just apply to us, as in Syracuse. It extends to Louisville and I guess Pitt, probably, too. Roy Williams, himself an “aww shucks-y” ACC old-timer, gets in on the act as well.

It’s a weird North/South divide, that for some reason hasn’t included Notre Dame (you likely saw numerous love letters penned/tweeted for Bonzie Colson during and after this year’s ACC Tournament). But so much is the divide that it’s now bled into the NCAA Tournament, where Syracuse is once again defying its seeding while other top ACC squads are already sitting at home.

The News & Observer’s Joe Giglio means well here, trying to eliminate conference tournaments altogether (not a bad idea at all), but it stems from the idea that the ACC is two separate conferences — an idea that Syracuse is seen at the center of, especially around ACC Tournament time. No other power conference really has this issue. It’s also rare to see any other conference’s media openly campaigning against a successful member.

Bad opinions come from national media, and it makes more sense since they don’t have to cover the league and the Orange on a day-to-day basis. But when those takes are coming from inside the house conference? The dynamic just appears ignorant, and also trickles into the consciousness of nearby fans. Almost daily, the TNIAAM Twitter feed receives notes from Carolina-area natives about how we “don’t belong.” Seems like a weird way to say thank you to one of the conference’s most successful members (that earns the league money!) since arriving.

Is there a fix here? Maybe not. But a win over Duke on Friday could make some progress toward burning down the remnants of this silly #NARRATIVE. Until then, we’ll have to dream of the one day we’ll be able to reach the staggering basketball successes of worshiped titans of the sport who truly belong in the ACC like Wake Forest and NC State. At least the league let us drive the bus.