ACC Roundup: ACC’s new members taking over

Syracuse forward C.J. Fair is a leading ACC Player of the Year candidate in the Orange's inaugural campaign in the league.

Rich Barnes/Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

With the ACC’s core in complete disarray — the North Carolina schools are now a combined 3-9 in league play, with just one of the wins coming against another "Big 4" team — it’s the new members that seem to be taking over. Syracuse and Pitt are two of the league’s three ranked teams, and they stand atop the league standings with unblemished records so far. Only one other team is unbeaten in ACC play, and that’s Virginia.

But Syracuse and Pitt are the class of the league, which is certainly part of what John Swofford anticipated when he added them, but not at the expense of everyone else. The new-look league is not all it was cracked up to be, but it’s early. And at least the new members are pulling their weight.

Lamar Patterson, Pittsburgh: The (very, very early) leader for ACC Player of the Year, he’s been fantastic so far in league play and this past week was no different. He averaged 23 points on 62 percent shooting to go with five rebounds and four assists in 31.5 minutes (and two Pitt blowout wins). All in a day’s work for Patterson.

Rodney Hood, Duke: The only player to score more points than Patterson last week was Hood, who poured in 47 points in two games on 15-of-28 shooting (8-of-12 from three). While freshman Jabari Parker has struggled a bit, Hood has carried the Blue Devils. And he has just one turnover in his 72 minutes played last week.

C.J. Fair, Syracuse: He didn’t shoot all that well, but now we’re nit-picking. He averaged 18.5 points and seven rebounds, not to mention 1.5 steals and a block in two Syracuse wins, both pretty convincing ones at that. He needs to be seen to be evaluated, as he seems more dominant while watching him than his stats would indicate.

Ian Miller, Florida State: This is Miller in a nutshell: he’s either one of the best players in the league or on the #goacc team. When he’s at his best, Florida State is darned near unbeatable. He averaged 17.5 points on 52 percent shooting last week (7-of-12 from three), adding 10 assists, nine rebounds and a steal in just 27.5 minutes a game. All off the bench.

(Tie) Rion Brown, Miami: Miami’s senior — and only real scoring option — was spectacular against North Carolina, scoring 19 points on 7-of-14 shooting and adding 10 rebounds in 31 minutes. He was basically unstoppable, and he’s become so much more than just a 3-point shooting threat.

(Tie) Garrick Sherman, Notre Dame: Notre Dame’s center averaged 17 points last week, and though he didn’t shoot all that well (15-of-37), he did pull down 30 (THIRTY!) rebounds in two games. So yeah, we can forgive the shooting. Notre Dame lost both its games, but it was his effort against N.C. State and Georgia Tech that kept the Fighting Irish competitive.

Florida State: Don’t let FSU’s loss at Virginia to open ACC play fool you. Virginia (the runner-up this week) is turning out to be pretty good after all. The Seminoles have won six of their last seven by an average of 20 points. That includes winning two league games last week — at Clemson and home against Maryland — by an average of 19.5 points. We see you, Seminoles.

Clemson over then-No. 16 Duke, 72-59. Under Brad Brownell, Clemson’s defense has always been stellar. This year is no different. But the offense has been the real issue. Despite making things as difficult on Duke as possible in the first half, the Tigers still trailed 36-26 with 1:16 to go in the first half. Clemson would outscore Duke 46-23 the rest of the way, and the Tigers didn’t have to set the world on fire offensively — just take smart shots and use their athleticism to get into the lane rather than jack up off-balance jumpers, and, voila. The 72 points represented the most the Tigers have scored against a BCS-conference team this season. At 11-4, Clemson has a chance to be a pretty good team … but it has to keep scoring.

Pretty close between Wake Forest and Notre Dame, because both beat one of the ACC’s perennial powers the week before at home (Wake beat UNC, Notre Dame beat Duke) only to fail to build on any of that momentum. But Wake Forest dropped games to Virginia and Pittsburgh — two very good teams — by a combined 38 points. And ultimately, in theory, the Deacs should be taking more of a distinguishable step forward than they are.

#goacc Player of the Week: The Poole Brothers, Georgia Tech

Had to pick both of them, as Solomon Poole and Stacey Poole, Jr. — both guards at Georgia Tech — combined to have one of the stranger stat lines you’ll see: 0-of-4 shooting (both were 0-of-2), 0-of-4 from 3-point range (again, both were 0-of-2), 0-of-2 from the foul line (Stacey missed both tries), zero points, one rebound (Stacey), two assists (Solomon), zero steals, zero blocks, two fouls (one each) and five turnovers (four by Solomon) in a combined 16 minutes. Wow.