Now that every ACC team has played in at least one conference game, lets take a look at the surprising standings in Week One. The biggest upset over the so far was newcomer Notre Dame beating Duke. The Blue Devils had been in the top ten of the AP Top 25 poll for 122 consecutive weeks (December 2007). This was a huge win for the Irish to state their claim as a legitimate contender in the conference. Let’s not forget about Pat Connaughton’s Dunk over Jabari Parker, who was pulled in the crucial minutes of the Blue Devil’s loss (after the jump). With the good news from the Irish comes the reminder of the bad, they will be without senior star Jerian Grant for the remainder of the season who was taken off the team and kicked out of school due to academic issues.
Duke got a critical bounce back win last night at home versus Georgia Tech bringing them to 1-1 in conference play. Other newcomers Pitt and Syracuse also charged into their first ever week of conference play strong. Pitt beat NC State and Maryland, two of the longer standing teams in the conference to start off their play 2-0. Syracuse took care of last year’s cinderella, Miami, and last night was able to hold off a better-than-you-think Virginia Tech team. So with that being said, Syracuse and Pitt already find themselves alone at the top of the standings as the only 2-0 teams. Pitt’s Lamar Patterson might be one of the best players in the conference. He is a senior who has scored in double-figures in every game of the season except one. And of course for Syracuse, who hasn’t heard of C.J. Fair? He’s averaging 17.8 points per game and has also scored in double-figures in every game besides one.
Elsewhere in the conference, North Carolina suffered huge setbacks after losing their conference opener at Wake Forest 73-67 and then losing at the Dean Dome vs. Miami. The Tar Heels only shot 38% from the floor even though they out-rebounded the Demon Deacons by 19. Then at home against Miami they only shot 30.8% and a disappointing 12-20 from the free throw line. Roy Williams shouldn’t be in panic mode just yet, though he should be close. But North Carolina has had one of its shakiest starts in recent memory with losses to Belmont, UAB, Texas, Wake Forest, and now Miami. But they have two great wins over the state of Kentucky, #3 Louisville followed by #11 Kentucky. But they are officially 0-2 in conference play.
And of course you had to be expecting a brief mentioning of the Maryland Terrapins, the only team to play three games in conference so far. Two wins against Boston College and then Georgia Tech and then the tough loss to Pittsburgh on the road puts Turgeon’s Terps at 2-1 and in a solid position to turn things around. They only play against Duke, UNC, and Syracuse one time each with a rematch against Pitt around the corner.
Here are the two biggest games of the week coming up in ACC play:
(This will be a weekly Monday column starting this coming Monday)
Saturday at 12pm ET, UNC at Syracuse (ESPN). The Tar Heels travels to the Carrier Dome to try to give CJ Fair and company their first loss in ACC history. But it is going to be tough for the Heels who will need a big game from Marcus Paige and James Michael McAdoo who both scored below their season average in the loss to Wake. You can be sure that the Dome will be rocking with 30,000 strong as Cuse brings in the Tar Heels for the first time since 1987. This will be the eighth matchup all time between these two powerhouses, Syracuse won the last one in 2009 at Madison Square Garden 87-71. Wes Johnson from Cuse was the game’s leading scorer with 25 pts and eight rebounds. UNC just blew an important game at home vs. Miami (Prediction: Cuse: 83-72).
Saturday at 5pm ET, Virginia at NC State (ESPN). This game features two of the conference’s best players who have started in opposite ways. First is NC State Sophomore, TJ Warren. Warren is averaging 23.4 points per game and 7.8 rebounds per game through NC State’s first 15 games. Forget just scoring in double-figures in each game, how about scoring at least 20 in all but three games. If you want to watch a for-sure lottery pick you’ll turn this one on. But for UVA, they have the lower key star, Joe Harris. The senior guard has been the definition of consistency over his four years at UVA and you always know you are going to get an incredibly balanced and smart game from him. Virginia blew out Wake at home Wednesday night. (Prediction: (UVA 61-58).
If I missed something big from your favorite ACC school or anything at all send me a tweet @szolotorow or an email ([email protected]) or leave you comment below and let’s hash it out!