Lash, thanks for raising the topic again. It will be interesting to see thoughts on this now that this bball season is behind us and we're closer to seeing what's in store with the coming changes. For now I'll speak only on the ACC as I know more about them then the BE. But to be sure, both leagues will be fun in the future and I can't wait to see what the BE does with their new members. It's a shame that there's little chance of many home-and-home games with those teams! We should review this again next spring, indeed.
Will Miami and VT hurt ACC basketball? The summ total I see is no, but it doesn't help much, either. Miami and BC (I suspect) will only damage the rep of the ACC tournament by cutting into the ticket allotment for the closer, basketball hungry schools. Proposals abound for curing this, but at least nothing will be the same. And while both of those schools have shown moments of roundball success, neither has set the world on fire.
Miami - If they sell out their new arena it's still only around 7,000 people. Not bad in this day and age, but it puts the enthusiasm for this program in perspective, especially knowing the students there aren't crafting a Cameron-like atmosphere. The AD's have feigned serious intentions to improve their performance, but it says here Miami's program will over time serve as fodder for previous conference doormats FSU and Clemson. Not bad, but no where near the support of other league programs.
VT - Potential is the word everyone is using and why not; Having found conference stability after a decade of moving around, the Hokies made their first BE tournament last year and fans should support the club on local trips like NC, Clemson and Maryland. Bottom line, VT has said this marriage would make their program come alive. This is the school that will help the conference amidst fans on the street by solidifying "ACC country," and you can sense rivalries already exist. If the fan support carries over from football, the facilities are decent enough for this program to be safe.
BC - The academic kinship that sold this relationship doesn't necessarily translate into on-court rivalries, but at least BC comes with a fair basketball pedigree in a basketball town. What's done is done, so to make this work BC will have to make some noise in the conference. Fortunately I think they will, to a degree similar with what they've done in the BE. Good facilities, knowledgeable fans and they're familiar with the work needed to succeed at this level. BC wouldn't have made this move if they didn't also intend to compete.
For the conference as a whole, things are looking bright. The concept of Miami and VT feeding the success of the other programs may not be far fetched: After taking NCAA tournament games into consideration, no team lost more than 5 games out of conference! Clemson, NC State, Wake and UVA have made or are making serious investments in facilities. I expect accommodations to be made for tournament ticketing and perhaps an 18 game conference schedule to ensure more home and home series. In the end, the core group of schools that has fostered this aura of ACC basketball will make sure it doesn't go away, so the conference will at least always be considered among the best.
at least, I think!? ;)