Just when you think you have Atlantic Coast Conference basketball figured out, along comes potentially the zaniest ACC Tournament of them all.
A grand total of 15 teams gather in Greensboro for action Wednesday, except that some of them are not in action until Thursday. Or Friday.
The circle of opposites goes 10 deep:
1. The top seed remains an afterthought.
Roy Williams was asked this week how Syracuse has impacted an ACC hierarchy topped by North Carolina and Duke for so long.
"I'm not sure what the hierarchy is," the Tar Heels head coach said during a conference call. "Right now the hierarchy is Virginia No. 1."
Oh, that's right. The Cavaliers, 16-2 in ACC play.
2. The best player comes from a program that has never won an ACC Tournament.
It's nice that Clemson's do-it-all junior K.J. McDaniels made the All-ACC first team, as voted on by the media; Tiger players often get overlooked in ACC basketball voting. But McDaniels was snubbed by ACC coaches, who have him on the All-ACC second team.
If the coaches can't get McDaniels right, how are they supposed to find their way around Greensboro? Switch McDaniels with fellow ACC first-teamers Jabari Parker of Duke, C.J. Fair of Syracuse or Marcus Paige of North Carolina and see if one of those guys carries a talent-challenged team to 10 ACC wins.
3. The great ACC isn't so great, yet.
Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame are in and defending national champion Louisville comes aboard next year. But most NCAA Tournament bracketologists have the ACC landing only five teams in your office pool, and that's with Pitt squeezing in as a No. 10 or No. 11 seed. And that's thanks to Clemson's inability to execute an inbounds pass against the Panthers on Saturday.
The ACC is the No. 5 conference in USA Today's Sagarin computer ranking, behind the Big 12, Big Ten, Big East and Pac 10.
North Carolina Central got a vote in the Associated Press Top 25 poll this week, which is more than you can say for 11 of the 15 teams in the ACC.
NYC vs. Biscuitville
4. Big East coaches won't miss Manhattan food (they say).
ACC newcomers Jim Boeheim of Syracuse, Jamie Dixon of Pittsburgh and Mike Brey of Notre Dame were asked about exchanging New York City restaurants and Madison Square Garden for Greensboro.
"We were always there for business," Dixon said.
Boeheim said he didn't go out much in New York.
"All that's important when you're playing a tournament is that they have a basketball court and an arena," he said, "and they have that in Greensboro."
They also have Biscuitville.
5. A new guy is carrying old traditions at Duke.
Jabari Parker went off Saturday night. The Duke freshman scored a career-high 30 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in a 93-81 victory over North Carolina.
Just part of Parker's "upward progression," Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said of the 6-8, 235-pound Chicago native.
"It's a big change for a high school kid, especially for a kid that's a bigger guy, understanding how much contact will be used against you and how much you can use in your game, both offensively and defensively," Coach K said. "So there's a great growth pattern there that occurs during the year."
6. Some scouting reports are worthless.
Virginia Tech went 2-16 in ACC play, winning twice against Miami, its first-round ACC Tournament foe. Miami head coach Jim Larranaga said both teams played man-to-man defense in their December matchup and both played zone in their February game.
Wednesday afternoon, who knows?
"It's basically playing a new team each time," Larranaga said.
7. A 2013 ACC championship ring and a few dollars will get you a turkey sausage muffin at Biscuitville.
Miami won the ACC Tournament last year in Greensboro, then turned its roster almost completely over and went 7-11 in the ACC.
'The greatest,' almost
8. It's OK to feel sorry for Notre Dame.
The Fighting Irish in December lost leading scorer Jerian Grant to an academic matter.
"That would knock any of us back," Krzyzewski said.
Notre Dame, picked fifth in the ACC preseason poll, stumbles into the ACC Tournament as the No. 13 seed.
9. Fear the Turtle.
Jeering Big Ten-bound Maryland has been popular all around the ACC.
But No. 8-seed Maryland comes into the ACC Tournament on a two-game win streak capped by Sunday's overtime victory over Virginia.
10. Double-bye equals bye-bye?
Boehiem once called the double-bye concept the "worst thing ever" after the top seed in the Big East Tournament was upset two years in a row. He said this week it's often better to play a game than to wait around.
Which might help No. 6 seed Clemson against Duke on Friday night - if the Tigers can advance.
Leave it to an old-school ACC guy, Roy Williams, to add something resembling perspective. The ACC, Williams said, can be "the greatest basketball conference ever."
"We have to make sure we don't assume things and take things for granted," Williams said.
Not this week in Greensboro, that's for sure.
Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff
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