The Syracuse Orange (13-5, 4-1) have put themselves in a position to be tied for first place in the Atlantic Coast Conference standings by winning four games and dropping only one. The Orange have handled business in conference play, taking down Notre Dame, Clemson, Duke and Pittsburgh while only losing to Georgia Tech.
That puts Syracuse in a six way tie for first place in the ACC with Duke, Louisville, UNC, Virginia and Virginia Tech. The league has been deep since its expansion and this year is no exception. Every team has at least one win through its first five games, including Boston College which got its first league win over Florida State yesterday.
Florida State has been ranked in the AP top 10 for multiple weeks this season, but has struggled out of the gate in conference play to a 1-4 start. Leonard Hamilton noted on the ACC coaches teleconference today that he thinks the ACC is even better this season than it was last year.
“You have to be at your best in order to win at home, especially on the road (in the ACC). I think those teams earned those victories against us. It wasn’t as much about us as it was about them being really good teams. We lost to four really good teams,” Hamilton opined.
Notre Dame was thought to be an NCAA Tournament team in the preseason but once again the Irish have been plagued by injuries. As a result, Notre Dame is also sitting at 1-4 in the ACC along with Florida State. They’re tied with Boston College, Miami, Wake Forest and FSU for last place in the league.
“In this league it’s so unforgiving. They’re coming at you every time,” Mike Brey said.
Following the overtime win at Duke, Syracuse point guard Frank Howard explained his team could lose to Georgia Tech on Saturday only to turn around and beat the No. 1 team in the country on its home floor.
“It’s a hell of a league, man. I don’t think people really understand it. Usually you might have one or two teams that are weak links. But that’s not the case this year,” Howard said. “Every game is a dog fight.”
Of course, conference standings aren’t static. The tie-breaker will be broken tonight as Virginia Tech takes on UNC from Chapel Hill. The winner of that game will sit atop the conference standings for the time being. But perhaps the biggest takeaway is that the race for first place in the ACC is as open as its ever been in the last five years.