ACC PPP: Syracuse, UNC step up in tourneys, Big Ten Challenge - - Jackson, MS

ACC Player Power Poll: The facts of life

North Carolina's Brice Johnson helped the Tar Heels topple the No. 1-ranked Michigan State Spartans on Wednesday. (Source: Jeffrey A. Camarati/UNC Athletic Communications) North Carolina's Brice Johnson helped the Tar Heels topple the No. 1-ranked Michigan State Spartans on Wednesday. (Source: Jeffrey A. Camarati/UNC Athletic Communications)

(RNN) - No one tells you the "challenge" in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge is the cramping your remote hand gets from flipping through two sets of three simultaneous games in back-to-back nights.

Now we're suffering from a basketball hangover: ACC/Big Ten ended in an unsatisfying 6-6 tie and the "traveling secretary" who types PPP has a gnarled claw from changing the channel too many times. Expect some typozs typos.

We decided to take it easy on him and go with a few short and sweet truths from the last couple of weeks.

  • Duke Football, at 10-2, has a better win percentage than 7-2 Duke Basketball. To anyone who knows anything about Duke, that's pretty funny.
  • Syracuse is better than you. The collective you. Nothing personal.
  • Clemson gives up 51 points per game to opposing teams. Boston College allows 81.
  • Teams do not get an extra player when playing BC.
  • The last half-season of The Walking Dead … Wow. Nothing to do with hoops, but we still can't get over that finale. The two-month layoff is brutal, though.
  • The ACC's leading scorer is NC State's T.J. Warren, at 22.6 ppg. Called it.
  • Notre Dame is 700 miles away from the Atlantic Coast.
  • UNC lost to Belmont. Then beat No. 3 Louisville. Then lost to UAB. Then beat No. 1 Michigan State. Consider us befuddled.

Player Power Poll: Nov. 21 to Dec. 5.

1a. Tyler Ennis, Syracuse Orange

17 points, eight assists, seven rebounds, four steals Tuesday vs. Indiana (W 69-52)

Assist-to-turnover ratio is one of the more frequently cited stats for point guards. The freshman's numbers there are good, but he has an even better equation: 3:1 steals-to-turnovers. Feel free to look around, there's not many other guys who can boast that.

One commentator described Tyler's style as "smooth" during the Challenge, and we couldn't agree more. The guy handles the ball more carefully than a newborn baby - except for that whole bouncing it on the ground thing - and defenders have little chance of getting it away from him.

On the other side of midcourt, he fits right in to the ball-hawking 2-3 zone Syracuse employs.

The Orange point guard he replaced was an NBA Lottery pick, and some questioned whether a first-year player could fill the role. If Ennis's level of play continues, the team might prove even better than the one that made the Final Four a season ago.

1b. C.J. Fair, Syracuse Orange

Combined 54 points, 19 rebounds, six steals Nov. 25 to 27 at Maui Invitational (Champion)

The senior earned the Most Outstanding Player designation for his work in the Maui Invitational, including 24 points in the championship against No. 18 Baylor. And "work" is the perfect word for what he does; this guy is so blue collar he should wear a hard hat and carry a lunch pail.

Nothing about C.J.'s game screams out for attention, but he's good at everything. He defends well, rebounds, has a great jumper, has a good first step to the basket and rarely finds himself out of position.

One of the coolest things about him is his facial expression. It never changes. It must be maddening to the guys defending him as he calmly goes about his business of ruining their day. He is the Orange's Iceman.

1c. Jerami Grant, Syracuse Orange

Combined 50 points, 16 rebounds, five assists Nov. 25 to 27 at Maui Invitational (Champion)

… And this guy is Syracuse's Firestarter: 6'8"-worth of knees and elbows flying across the court and above the rim.

Jerami's athleticism is evident from the moment he comes off the bench (he's technically not a starter, although he gets 28 minutes a game). He's a good rebounder and scorer that coach Jim Boeheim can use to inject energy into the team.

The sophomore should also be credited for his control, averaging less than a turnover per game. It's a credit to Boeheim's coaching and the team-first mentality of the whole roster that Fair and Grant's differing styles work together so well.

1d. Brice Johnson, North Carolina Tar Heels

14 points, six rebounds, two blocks Wednesday at Michigan State (W 79-65)

Brice supplied some big buckets in the Heels' upset of the No. 1 team in the land Wednesday. None were bigger than the two in a row he made midway through the second half to break the tie; the Spartans looked like they were on the verge of grabbing the game.

Coach Roy Williams has struggled to find what he wanted from a big men the last two seasons. If the sophomore continues to score from the low post on offense and swat shot attempts on defense, UNC may have its guy.

1e. J.P. Tokoto, North Carolina Tar Heels

12 points, 10 total rebounds, five offensive rebounds Wednesday at Michigan State (W 79-65)

The 6'5" sophomore has been another UNC guy who looks like a star one night but fails to follow it up the next. But against Michigan State, he outworked everyone who stepped on the floor.

J.P. crashed the glass at both ends. He ensured his team got second-chance opportunities after missed shots and his opponents only got one crack at the basket before having to fall back.

1f. Marcus Paige, North Carolina Tar Heels

32 points, 9 of 12 shooting, 11 of 11 free throws Nov. 24 vs. Louisville (W 93-84)

Paige may be the most improved player in the country, averaging nearly 20 points, four assists and nearly two steals. And he's done all that despite moving into a new position.

As a freshman point guard in 2012-13, he looked uncomfortable for much of the season while getting to know the system and his teammates, and it showed in his shooting percentage. But by the end of the year, he was running the offense instead of just holding the ball for it.

UNC has moved him over to shooting guard and asked him to carry the load on scoring. He has proved he was up for it, especially when he faced the No. 3-ranked and defensive-minded Louisville Cardinals.

7. Quinn Cook, Duke Blue Devils

24 points, 10 of 10 free throws, nine assists, four rebounds Tuesday vs. Michigan (W 79-69)

If we were asked to describe his game in a word, it would be "Control." Few point guards can set the pace of a game like the junior out of Durham, NC.

Teammates Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood will no doubt get much of the attention this season, but Quinn showed he could dominate offensively in the convincing win over the No. 22 Wolverines.

8. Robert Carter Jr., Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

21 points, nine rebounds, three assists Tuesday vs. Illinois (W 67-64)

Carter's got the goods, but he doesn't show up to play every night. On this night, he showed up. Keep breaking out those post moves, RC.

9. T.J. Warren, NC State Wolfpack

22 points, eight rebounds, three steals Wednesday vs. Northwestern (W 69-48)

The verdict is still out on the Pack this season, but this guy, and star frosh Cat Barber, will make them worth watching every time. No one works smarter without the ball than T.J.; if there is a space to shoot from, he will find it.

10. Talib Zanna, Pittsburgh Panthers

16 points, 7 of 11 shooting, 10 rebounds, four blocks Tuesday vs. Penn State (W 78-69)

Pitt's offensive style is … well … it's ugly. Lucky for them, they do have a legit weapon in Zanna, a big man with pretty footwork who can score with his back to the basket. He led the charge in the second half of a close game when the rest of his team couldn't get it going.

Bonus points for getting himself and the crowd pumped up after some big plays, too. It's more fun when they're having fun, and the PPPollsters love that kind of stiff styff stjuff stuff.

Stupid claw hand.

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