That Syracuse is challenging for the ACC championship isn’t surprising except for one fact — the Orange hasn’t had much notable competition. While ACC newbie Syracuse was ranked No. 8 in the preseason AP poll, the surrounding giants of the conference haven’t lived up to their billing, with Duke and North Carolina both struggling. But as the Syracuse Post-Standard pointed out, a conference newcomer very rarely wins the league immediately after making the jump. Since 1990, only one of 23 teams that have switched conferences claimed the championship the first year. That team was 1991-92 Arkansas team that won the Southeastern Conference championship.
• Maybe it’s not always money that buys happiness after all. At least in Arizona, where the nation’s top-ranked team has one of the best coaching “bargains” In Sean Miller, according to forbes.com. No, the 18-0 Wildcats aren’t compensating Miller with pennies — he is taking in $2.3 million a year, putting him in the top echelon of coaching salaries. But compared with the group that still greatly exceeds his income — the Thad Mattas, Tom Creans and Tom Izzos of the world — Miller might be the best “bang for the buck” in college basketball, Forbes said, with only Ohio State’s Matta outperforming Miller in recent years.
• Although the presence of extremely dominant 7-footers has dwindled in recent years, the San Francisco Chronicle said, there has been a return to form this season, with a plethora of big men that are impacting the game in a major way. Winona’s Alec Brown (Wisconsin-Green Bay), Sim Bhullar (New Mexico State), Jordan Bachynski and Dallin Bachynski (Utah), Frank Kaminsky (Wisconsin), Isaiah Austin (Baylor), Joel Embiid (Kansas) and Mamadou Ndiaye (California-Irvine) are all 7-plus-foot players the Chronicle’s lists who have been extraordinary early on.
• Three unbeaten teams remain. After Indiana toppled Wisconsin in Bloomington and Iowa State dropped two in a row, to Oklahoma and Kansas, only Arizona, Syracuse and Wichita State remain unblemished.