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Ugly start for the expanded ACC

Well, this wasn’t the plan for the ACC.

The, um, new king of college basketball.

The early hits continued for the league on Tuesday night when NC State suffered an 82-72 home loss to North Carolina Central in overtime and Dayton topped Georgia Tech 82-72 in regulation.

The Flyers over the Yellow Jackets wasn’t a crazy outcome. Both teams are second-tier programs in their respective leagues. But NCCU beat a NC State team whose newest players were ranked the 13th best recruiting class coming into the season.

We all knew NC State was a mess after Mark Gottfried lost his top four scorers and top freshman Rodney Purvis transferred to Connecticut following last season.

But NCCU completed its transition from Division II two seasons ago. A loss to NCCU -- at home -- is a big loss for a program that continues to fall from last season’s preseason perch as the favorite to win the 2013 ACC crown.

Kudos to both Dayton’s Archie Miller and NCCU’s Levelle Moton. That’s a pair of big wins for two young coaches.

But they’re a problem (potentially) for the ACC.

When Pittsburgh, Notre Dame and Syracuse all announced that they were joining the ACC in 2013, it was easy to envision the ACC superseding the Big Ten as the top conference in college basketball, especially with Louisville coming in 2014.

And it’s far too early to dismiss that possibility. But it’s not the top league right now. Not even close.

The NCAA selection committee doesn’t care about conference rankings. But the Twitterverse does.

And many folks assumed the ACC would top the game’s hierarchy this year.

OK, I assumed the ACC would top college basketball in 2013-14.

But the entire conference has failed to justify the early buzz. There are far more questions than answers in the ACC right now.

Those losses by a pair of middle-of-the-pack-at-best ACC teams extended a troubling start for a league that should be on the rise. And there’s still time to get there. Plenty of time.

But the Big Ten has been praised as the nation’s best league in recent years because it has possessed both powerhouses and tough second-tier squads. Iowa won 25 games last year and went 9-9 in the Big Ten but failed to reach the NCAA tournament.

It wasn’t easy to get a win in Iowa City last year. Or Minneapolis. Or Champaign.

And when NC State, a Sweet 16 squad in 2011-12, loses to a team that competed at the Division II level a few years ago, it affects the overall reputation of the conference.

Miami losing to Saint Francis (New York) didn’t help, either. USC-Upstate beat Virginia Tech. Belmont beat North Carolina over the weekend. Boston College is 1-3. Maryland is 1-2.

The league’s top is shaky. The middle is even rougher. And the latter is really the most critical factor in the way that a conference is judged. How many teams will compete for an NCAA tournament slot?

That’s difficult to determine in the ACC right now, but these early nonconference upsets will only make it tougher for the ACC to maximize its potential in the postseason.

So far, the ACC hype has not equaled the substance we’ve witnessed from the conference in the first few weeks of the season.

I think Duke, which is led by superstar freshman Jabari Parker, is really good.

What else do I think about the ACC at this point?

Not much.