Mike Brey, the coach at Notre Dame, took a look at the ACC standings after the first weekend of conference play and didnt know what to think. He wasnt alone.
What an opening weekend it was for the ACCs newcomers. Breys Notre Dame team beat Duke, knocking the Blue Devils out of the top 10 for the first time since 2007. Pitt rallied for an impressive win at N.C. State. And Syracuse survived against Miami.
At the bottom of the standings, meanwhile, Duke, N.C. State and North Carolina were all 0-1. In the history of the ACC, that had never happened the Blue Devils, Wolfpack and Tar Heels all losing their first conference game.
Im shaking my head like everybody else, Brey said earlier this week. But when you look around and see the first weekend, I think it gives everyone in the league a lot of confidence that it is a complete wide-open race, and nobody has anything etched in stone here.
So far the question isnt how the ACCs new members might adapt to the conference. Instead the question is how the old guard will adapt to the new.
New additions Syracuse, Pitt and Notre Dame all of which finished in the top six in the Big East last season are a combined 7-1 in the ACC. Founding fathers Duke, UNC and N.C. State are a combined 2-4, and the Tar Heels are winless.
Were but one week into the long grind of a season, but already weve learned some things. For instance:
• Syracuse and Pitt might be the class of the conference. You know about Syracuse, which is undefeated and ranked No. 2. Pitt, though, has received little attention despite its 14-1 start. A name to remember: Lamar Patterson. The Panthers senior guard is averaging more than 17 points and four rebounds and assists per game.
• Duke forward Jabari Parker wont always meet the insane expectations that surround him. And sometimes hell even play like what he is: a freshman still adjusting to the college game. Amid the hype that swirls around guys like Parker, Andrew Wiggins and Julius Randle, its easy to forget they are first-year college players.
• UNC is in trouble tremendous trouble when Marcus Paige is off. And Paige was off the past two games in ugly losses against Wake Forest and Miami. Sophomore guard Paige has missed 22 of his past 27 shots, and a concerning question has emerged: Who is UNCs second scoring option?
More scoring, not snoring please
Remember all that talk about how college basketball would be prettier to watch, and feature higher scoring, thanks to some adjustments in the way the game would be officiated this season? Hasnt exactly turned out that way. At least not yet, and not in the ACC.
Last season, ACC teams failed to score at least 60 points 61 times in conference games, or 28.2 percent of the time.
This season, league teams have failed to score 60 points in 31.3 percent of conference games. Nine of the leagues 15 teams have already failed to break 60 at least once in a conference game, and Florida State has yet to score 60 points in an ACC game.
Not the best ... yet
ACC Commissioner John Swofford recently and proudly proclaimed the ACC is the best basketball conference in the country. That might be true on paper, or in terms of brand quality.
In reality, though, the ACC ranks fifth in conference RPI, behind the Big 12, Big Ten, Big East and Pac-12.
Florida State brought a national championship in football to the ACC, but its fair to doubt whether the league can break its Final Four drought come NCAA tournament time. An ACC team hasnt been to the Final Four since 2010, and thats the leagues longest stretch without a Final Four participant since 1958-61.
Carter: 919-829-8944; Twitter: @_andrewcarter
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