A battle for the 'new' ACC


Syracuse guard Tyler Ennis put a funny twist to a question posing Saturday's meeting with Duke as a battle between the old guard of Tobacco Road versus the Orange newcomers from the North.

The freshman guard, who also spent time deflecting questions positioning the game as a matchup between himself and Duke's Jabari Parker, said that as far as he was concerned, the old-versus-new element didn't exist.

"I've been in the ACC my whole college career," Ennis said.

As odd as that notion might seem, it's time to get used to it. The old ACC died in earnest a decade ago -- around the time of the first expansion, which put an end to round-robin scheduling in league play.

Syracuse is currently unbeaten in league play and holds a half-game lead over Virginia, as well as 1½  game lead over Pittsburgh and Duke. Should the Orange claim the title this season, it could also signal an end of the stranglehold North Carolina and Duke have had on the conference.

The Tar Heels (29) and Blue Devils (19) have combined for 48 regular season titles, which includes shared titles, in the 60 seasons the league has existed. Maybe it is time to accept the ACC title might reside in new neighborhoods far removed from Tobacco Road.

Syracuse forward C.J. Fair fired the first salvo during the league's media day in Charlotte, N.C., when he said that the Orange planned on winning the league. He reiterated his stance Wednesday after beating Wake Forest.

"That's how our attitude was, that's how I wanted my attitude to be," Fair said. "Our first year, we can make history."

Surely this is what we all expected right? That Syracuse, despite playing in its inaugural season in the ACC, would be in big games that had regular-season-title implications. The same will probably be said when Louisville joins next season.

"In the Big East, they were 1-2-3 every year, they had a chance to win it every year, so it's no different when they come into the ACC," Duke forward Amile Jefferson said. "… We knew when they entered the ACC it's not like they were going to be at the bottom or in the middle, they were going to be competing, so we expect nothing less."

That's how our attitude was, that's how I wanted my attitude to be. Our first year, we can make history.

--Syracuse forward C.J. Fair

The only difference on Saturday is perhaps the order might have been flipped. Duke was the preseason pick to win the championship, but so far in league play the Blue Devils are chasing the first-place Orange.

Let's not get carried away with it, though, there's not a total transformation of the ACC going on here. In the current standings, four of the bottom five teams are all former Big East schools -- three from the first expansion (Miami, Boston College, Virginia Tech) and Notre Dame from the latest.

Miami won the ACC regular-season and tournament titles last season. But there have been only four times in 60 years that Duke or UNC have gone consecutive seasons without capturing at least a share of the title.

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