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ACC’s hot start could be a harbinger of better times ahead

November 17, 2011 Full Court Sprints No Comments

After six full days into the regular season, the ACC is the only undefeated conference remaining. And that pretty much guarantees that Maryland will lose to Alabama Thursday night or Georgia Tech will fall against Saint Joseph’s.

No one really keeps track of which conferences go the longest without a loss, but hoops pundits love to banter about which conference is tops in the game. The ACC hasn’t been part of that conversation for a few years now, despite claiming two of the past three champions and a contender or two for this year’s title.

As of this week, the ACC has North Carolina, Duke and Florida State in the top 25. No other team even received a vote from the pollsters. As Rodney Dangerfield often lamented, this conference doesn’t get any respect these days, with everyone focusing on Tobacco Road and ignoring most of the rest of the conference. That would be a mistake this season.

Already, Virginia Tech, Clemson and Virginia have flashed plenty of promise. They’ll need to bring down some of the big boys from conferences like the Big East, Big 12 and Big Ten before they rise into the public spotlight. That’s probably going to start happening in the next couple of weeks as the early season tournaments gain steam and more power conference squads go head to head.

When it’s all said and done this season, don’t be surprised if at least five different ACC teams spend some quality time in the top 25, and the conference once again joins the discussion as tops in the land.

We go coast to coast with other news from the college basketball nation.

  • New Providence coach Ed Cooley and the Friars returned to his former employers at Fairfield Monday, and Providence escaped with a hard-fought 80-72 win, according to a CBS Sports.com report. The Friars’ head honcho had plenty of reason to feel emotionally torn after enjoying success in the MAAC in his first coaching gig and building strong relationships with players such as Rakim Sanders, writes Matt Norlander.
  • UCLA suspended Reeves Nelson for bad behavior after the junior forward blew off a practice Monday and looked selfishly frustrated in the Bruins’ opening loss to Loyola Marymount, writes Peter Yoon for ESPN Los Angeles. The Bruins dropped their second consecutive game Tuesday when Middle Tennessee State handled the Nelson-less squad.
  • After an 0-2 start, UCLA fans must be yearning for the golden age led by the legendary John Wooden. Those days are long gone, but Wooden — or at least a statue bearing his resemblance — will greet every player and fan entering the renovated Pauley Pavilion, Peter Yoon writes on ESPN.com.
  • St. Bonaventure will play the rest of the season without forward Marquise Simmons, who tore his Achilles tendon against Cornell, according to a CBS Sports.com wire report. The junior provided solid depth for St. Bonaventure, averaging about four points and rebounds per game last season.
  • If “best” refers to most talented, CBS Sports.com’s Jeff Goodman explains why Kentucky, not North Carolina, is the best team in the country this season.
  • No sleep till Brooklyn! The Beastie Boys can lend that motto to Kentucky and Maryland next year when the Wildcats and Terrapins meet in the first-ever Barclays Center Classic, to be held at the new arena under construction in Brooklyn, N.Y., according to the Associated Press.

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