There’s a tradition that’s observed around this time every year. And no, it has nothing to do with a groundhog sticking his head out of a hole in the ground and predicting 6 more weeks of cold weather.

It does, however, involve a gloomy forecast stretching all the way into March.

Selection Sunday, to be exact.

It’s the time of the college basketball season in which the highest-profile bracket guessers out there, and you know who they are, start floating the idea that the ACC might only be a 2-3 bid league this year.

There are only 3 league teams – North Carolina, Duke and Clemson – in most of their projections. That number will almost certainly increase to at least 5, the same number of bids it got a year ago, once all is said and done.

Florida State, Wake Forest and Miami already pass the eye test. And Virginia will, too, if it figures out how to win some games on the road.

But even that isn’t likely to stop the narrative that the ACC has been devalued from the gold standard of college conferences to something resembling a rec league at your neighborhood Y.

There’s no denying that the ACC’s product isn’t what it once was. Chalk it up to the emphasis that’s been placed on football over the past couple of decades because of the money it generates.

And the expansion it has helped bring about.

With more on the way.

Maybe the addition of California, Stanford and SMU this fall makes sense from a football or a financial standpoint.

I’m still waiting to hear a reasonably logical explanation for it other than it gives the appearance that the league is doing something to try and keep pace with the SEC and Big Ten in the escalating conference arms race.

But chances are it’s only going to drag down ACC’s basketball even further.

At least SMU has some promise.

The Mustangs (13-5) checked in at No. 32 in the NCAA’s NET rankings heading into Thursday’s game at North Texas. That would make them the 3rd-highest-rated ACC team, 1 spot ahead of Clemson and behind only No. 7 North Carolina and No. 18 Duke.

It’s yet to be seen, however, how coach Rob Lanier’s team will adapt to its new environment.

While SMU did beat Florida State in Tallahassee earlier this season, there’s a big difference between playing North Carolina in Chapel Hill as opposed to East Carolina in Greenville, as the Mustangs currently do as members of the American Athletic Conference.

We already have a better idea of what to expect from Stanford and Cal.

Here’s a hint: Don’t get your hopes up.

Not only will the Cardinal and Bears have to deal with the rigors of frequent cross-country travel, a logistical nightmare that will come into play far more often in basketball than in football where they play only once a week, but neither team has done anything to distinguish themselves on the court in recent years.

Stanford hasn’t been to the NCAA Tournament since reaching the Sweet 16 in 2014 and has managed only 3 winning records and finished higher than 6th in the soon-to-be-defunct Pac-12 just once in the past 8 seasons.

By comparison, that makes even Syracuse’s record since joining the ACC look good.

Which is saying something.

Although this year’s team is just 1 game out of the Pac-12 lead at 5-3, its 10-8 overall record isn’t even in hailing distances of the NCAA bubble. Especially with a NET ranking of 107.

Cal’s metrics are even more unsightly.

The Bears have finished with single-digit win totals – in all games, not just their conference – 4 times since making their most recent Tournament appearance in 2016. That includes a 3-29 train wreck a year ago.

One Louisville is enough for any conference. But the ACC is about to get another.

Although Cal has made significant strides this season under its 1st-year coach, Stanford grad and Los Angeles Lakers victory celebration dancer Mark Madsen, it’s still just 7-12 overall with a conference resume-killing NET of 137.

There’s hope, of course, that joining the newly expanded “All Coast Conference” will benefit both of the new Golden State additions by expanding their recruiting profiles and helping to attract better players off the transfer portal.

Just in case, the large group of bubble teams among the league’s current membership might want to start thinking of creative ways of keeping their road to the NCAA Tournament from getting any bumpier than it already is.

They can start by using the Big 12 model of dumbing down their nonconference schedules and piling up lopsided wins over Quad 3-4 opponents to artificially inflate their NET ratings and create more Quad 1 opportunities once conference play begins.

They can also stop losing to The Citadels, Bellarmines and UMass Lowells of the world.

As much as that might help, it probably won’t be enough to keep Lunardi Joe, college basketball’s answer to Punxsutawney Phil, from predicting another gloomy forecast for the ACC around this time next year.

Old traditions are hard to break.