By JOHN MARSHALLGLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — The Atlantic Coast Conference has been touted as the best and deepest conference in the nation.
After four of its five ranked teams lost this weekend, it may have the most parity as well.
“Our confidence is sky high right now,” Virginia Tech’s Justin Bibbs said after the Hokies knocked off No. 5 Duke 89-75 on Saturday. “I feel like we can play against anybody, with anybody.”
It was definitely a weekend of hope for teams at the middle and even the bottom of the ACC.
No. 6 Louisville beat No. 16 Indiana by 15 but lost to No. 12 Virginia . The Cavaliers beat the Cardinals but lost to No. 20 Florida State. No. 10 North Carolina crushed Monmouth, then lost by 12 to unranked Georgia Tech.
The only ranked ACC team to not lose this week: No. 24 Notre Dame .
Even then, it wasn’t easy. The Irish had a hard time shaking Saint Peter’s in an eight-point win on Wednesday and needed overtime and a last-second 3-pointer by Steve Vasturia to beat Pittsburgh on Saturday.
“They just made one more winning play than we did,” Pitt coach Kevin Stallings said. “It’s very disappointing for us, but that’s the nature of this league.”
The league could see some changes in the AP Top 25 this week.
Virginia Tech (12-1, 1-0 ACC) had not faced a ranked team all season, a likely reason it was unranked headed into Saturday’s game despite having one loss.
Duke played without All-American Grayson Allen for the first time since his indefinite suspension for another tripping incident, but having him may not have made that much of a difference against the Hokies.
Virginia Tech built a 16-point halftime lead and never gave the Blue Devils a chance, a win that could move the Hokies into this week’s poll.
Duke and North Carolina will likely drop a few spots after losing as a top-10 team to unranked teams on the same day for the first time since 1989. Louisville and Virginia both could fall, though maybe not too far since both beat ranked teams and lost to ranked teams.
UCLA FALLS, DUCKS RISE
UCLA had an impressive start to the season, opening with a 14-game winning streak that included victories over then-No. 1 Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio State.
The Bruins (14-1, 1-1 Pac-12) opened their Pac-12 season with a loss, to No. 21 Oregon.
Playing an entertaining, back-and-forth game , the Ducks (13-2, 2-0) won 89-87 on Dillon Brooks ‘ last-second 3-pointer in Eugene. The victory was Oregon’s 10th straight — the Ducks followed with a win over USC — and knocked UCLA from the ranks of the unbeaten.
UCLA figures to be part of a big top-10 shakeup in this week’s poll, while the Ducks should rise even more.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEKNate Hickman is Columbia’s leading scorer. He also can jump a little, as you can tell in this dunk in a loss to Albany on Friday.
Top-ranked Villanova has rarely been challenged in its bid to repeat as national champions this season.
The Wildcats got a big test on Saturday, when they faced No. 10 Creighton in Omaha.
Villanova (14-0, 2-0 Big East) passed, overcoming an early 10-point deficit to beat the Bluejays 80-70 behind Jalen Brunson’s career-high 27 points.
FRESHMAN SPOTLIGHTJosh Jackson, Kansas. Jackson was touted as the best player in this year’s deep freshman class and has lived up to the hype with highlight-reel dunks and big-time performances.
The 6-foot-8 guard is the second-leading scorer for No. 3 Kansas at 14.7 points per game, averages 6.2 rebounds and 3.0 assists while shooting 51 percent from the floor. The only blemish: 3-point shooting. He is hitting 27 percent from the arc.
Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.