ACC Basketball Power Rankings – Week 3

Rasheed Sulaimon Duke Basketball

Photo: Mark Dolejs-USA Today Sports

It’s time for Week 3 in our series of ACC Basketball Power Rankings!

Many ACC teams were involved in various early-season tournaments this past week, which helped provide a better gauge of where those squads are through this point in the season.

It was a relatively strong week overall for the league, but a few teams near the bottom of the conference had some scares and, as usual, one fell in embarrassing fashion. No extra pumpkin pie for you, Wake Forest.

This coming week is an important one for the ACC as its time for the annual ACC-Big Ten Challenge. For those folks who care about the pointless exercise of conference bragging rights, this is an opportunity for the league to stake its claim as the best in college basketball.

More importantly, it’s a critical stretch for many ACC schools that would love to add a signature win over a quality opponent to the potential NCAA Tournament resume.

Let’s get to this week’s rankings.

1. Duke – 7-0
Last Week’s Ranking: 1
Games: 93-54 win vs. Furman, 93-73 win vs. Army

Duke returned from a three-game road trip and took care of business with two solid wins at home against Furman and Army. Furman was clearly overmatched and no contest for the Blue Devils, but the Black Knights from West Point entered with a 5-0 record and showed why in their performance in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

It was a quality effort from Duke, and Army has the potential to make some noise in the NCAA Tournament if it wins the Patriot League, which is definite possibility.

Now all eyes can look ahead to one of the most intriguing games in college basketball this season as Duke takes on Wisconsin in Madison.

Up Next: at Wisconsin – Dec. 3

2. Virginia – 7-0
Last Week’s Ranking: 3
Games: 79-36 win vs. Tennessee St., 64-56 win vs. La Salle, 45-26 win vs. Rutgers

Virginia had the best defense in the country last season and it might be even better this year. The Cavaliers were dominant on the defensive end again this week, and put on one of the most incredible displays you’ll ever see in the second half of Saturday’s win over Rutgers.

Trailing 18-17 at halftime, the Hoos clamped down in the second half and held Rutgers to only eight points, including just two in the final 15 minutes. That’s insane.

Also, Justin Anderson is finally starting to reach to his potential this season. The junior forward is averaging 15 points per game and shooting over 59% from 3-point range.

Up Next: at Maryland – Dec. 3

3. Louisville – 5-0
Last Week’s Ranking: 2
Games: 87-26 win vs. Savannah St., 45-33 win vs. Cleveland St.

I can’t praise Virginia for its defense without also giving Louisville credit for shutting down its opponents. The Cardinals held the opposition to 59 points combined in its two wins this past week, including limiting Savannah St. to nine points in the first half of Monday’s win.

Virginia jumped Louisville in this week’s power rankings because the Cardinals haven’t played a quality opponent since the season opener against Minnesota. That changes this week when unbeaten Ohio State comes to town.

Up Next: Ohio State – Dec. 2, Florida International – Dec. 5

4. Miami – 7-0
Last Week’s Ranking: 5
Games: 77-74 win @ Charlotte, 87-75 win vs. South Alabama

Miami has already had a couple prime spots for a letdown this season but the Hurricanes continue to weather the storm. Get it? Heh.

After beating Charlotte last Sunday to win the Charleston Classic, Jim Larranaga and his team traveled to Charlotte to face the 49ers for the second time in three days. Led by Sheldon McClellan’s 31 points, the Hurricanes earned back-to-back wins over a quality Charlotte team.

While the backcourt is getting most of the credit, 7’0” center Tonye Jekiri has taken his game to a new level. The junior is averaging 8.3 points and 10.9 rebounds, and in his most recent game against South Alabama, Jekiri pulled down 13 points, eight rebounds, eight assists and five blocks.

Up Next: Illinois – Dec. 2, Green Bay – Dec. 6

5. UNC – 6-1
Last Week’s Ranking: 4
Games: 74-66 loss vs. Butler, 78-56 win vs. UCLA, 75-64 win vs. Florida

As bad as the Tar Heels looked in the loss to Butler to open the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, they were equally impressive in wins over UCLA and Florida.

Against Butler, North Carolina couldn’t contain the Bulldogs on the offensive glass and it was a woeful shooting performance from 3-point range and the free throw line. The shooting improved in the games against UCLA and Florida and the Heels won with relative ease.

From what I’ve seen, this is a UNC team that will take some time to figure out its identity and develop chemistry this season. And with a few more big-time nonconference foes on the schedule, there could be a couple more ugly losses before we get to ACC play.

Up Next: Iowa – Dec. 3, ECU – Dec. 7

6. N.C. State – 6-0
Last Week’s Ranking: 6
Games: 84-72 win vs. Richmond, 60-54 win vs. Boise St.

It may not jump off the page, but wins over Richmond and Boise State gives the Wolfpack victories over two quality nonconference opponents. Richmond is always dangerous and Boise St. was in the conversation for a spot in the NCAA Tournament last season.

We wondered who would step up for N.C. State in clutch situations now that T.J. Warren is in the NBA, and it looks like Trevor Lacey is ready for the challenge. The Alabama transfer is leading the team in scoring at 17.3 points per game and made some huge buckets down the stretch to secure the win over the Broncos.

Up Next: @ Purdue – Dec. 2, Wake Forest – Dec. 6

7. Notre Dame – 6-1
Last Week’s Ranking: 7
Games: 81-54 win vs. Grambling St., 90-42 win vs. Chicago St.

Notre Dame notched two blowout wins this week over programs that were likely just collecting a paycheck. Grambling St. and Chicago St.? I guess it’s only the Notre Dame football program that cares about playing a national schedule.

One very promising aspect of the 6-1 start for the Irish has been the play of sophomore Demetrius Jackson. The former McDonald’s All-American struggled as a freshman, but he’s scored in double-figures in six of seven games to begin this season, giving Mike Brey another playmaker alongside Jerian Grant.

Up Next: Michigan St. – Dec. 3, Fairleigh Dickinson – Dec. 6

8. Syracuse – 5-1
Last Week’s Ranking: 8
Games: 70-37 win vs. Loyola (MD), 72-48 win vs. Holy Cross

After struggling to keep opponents from scoring in two games in Madison Square Garden, Syracuse got back to its roots with strong defensive efforts against Loyola and Holy Cross. The Orange held Loyola to only 19% shooting from the field, and then kept Holy Cross to just 26%.

One major cause for concern for this team continues to be the lack of any outside shooting. It was part of why the wheels fell off for Syracuse last season and the Orange were just 2-for-26 from the perimeter in this week’s wins, including an 0-for-14 performance against Holy Cross.

Up Next: @ Michigan – Dec. 2, St. John’s – Dec. 6

9. Pittsburgh – 4-2
Last Week’s Ranking: 10
Games: 81-68 win vs. Chaminade, 74-57 loss vs. San Diego St., 70-47 win vs. Kansas St.

Pittsburgh rebounded from a terrible loss at Hawaii with a solid performance in the Maui Invitational this week. The Panthers opened the tournament with a win over Chaminade and finished with a very impressive 23-point victory over a strong Kansas State team, where they held Marcus Foster, one of the best scorers in the country and potential All-American, to just nine points.

Pitt suffered a 17-point loss to San Diego St. in the semifinals, but the Aztecs are a Top 10 caliber team that will make plenty of opponents look bad this season.

Up Next: @ Indiana – Dec. 2, Duquesne – Dec. 5

10. Georgia Tech – 5-1
Last Week’s Ranking: 9
Games: 72-70 loss vs. Marquette, 61-54 win vs. Rider, 64-61 win vs. Rhode Island

Georgia Tech spent the week at Disney’s Wide World of Sports for the Orlando Classic and opened the tournament with a disappointing loss to Steve Wojciechowski’s Marquette team.

The Yellow Jackets bounced back with wins over Rider and Rhode Island, but a victory over Marquette and following matchup against Michigan St. would have been much more helpful in terms of RPI and strength of schedule.

That’s part of the risk-reward of these early season tournament events.

Up Next: @ Northwestern – Dec. 3, South Carolina Upstate – Dec. 6

11. Boston College – 2-3
Last Week’s Ranking: 11
Games: No games last week

The Eagles were off this past week after spending last weekend in Puerto Rico for the Tip-Off tournament.

Up Next: Marist – Dec. 1, Providence – Dec. 5

12. Clemson – 4-2
Last Week’s Ranking: 13
Games: 64-61 win vs. LSU, 62-59 win vs. High Point

After earning a solid win over a dangerous LSU team to conclude the Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Tigers flirted with another disaster in Saturday’s 3-point win at home over High Point.

Lack of consistent options on offense continues to be a problem for Brad Brownell, and Clemson allowed High Point to shoot 42% from 3-point range, an area where the Tigers have thrived at stopping opponents over the past few years.

Up Next: Rutgers – Dec. 1, Arkansas – Dec. 7

13. Florida State – 3-3
Last Week’s Ranking: 15
Games: 66-55 win vs. The Citadel, 58-47 win vs. Charleston Southern

The wins over The Citadel and Charleston Southern don’t look all that impressive, but it was important for Leonard Hamilton’s team to get back on track after a disastrous showing in the Hall-of-Fame Tip-Off Classic, where the Seminoles lost all three games.

Florida State figured out ways to grind out victories despite playing without Aaron Thomas, the team’s best player. Thomas is being held out and evaluated after having to be taken to the hospital at halftime during FSU’s game against UMass. If Thomas is out for an extended period of time, this team’s ceiling becomes much lower.

Up Next: Nebraska – Dec. 1, UCF – Dec. 6

14. Virginia Tech – 4-2
Last Week’s Ranking: 14
Games: 73-54 loss vs. Northern Iowa, 78-63 win vs. Miami (OH), 83-63 win vs. Morgan St.

There was nothing pretty about Virginia Tech’s 19-point loss to Northern Iowa to open the Cancun Classic, but the Hokies responded with a nice win over Miami (OH) to conclude the event. They followed it up with a nice win at home over Morgan St.

Buzz Williams made a change in his lineup by deciding to bring guard Adam Smith off the bench, and it appears to be working as Smith has scored 22 and 26 points in his last two games.

Up Next: @ Penn St. – Dec. 3, Radford – Dec. 7

15. Wake Forest – 4-3
Last Week’s Ranking: 12
Games: 75-48 win vs. Nicholls St., 83-49 win vs. Mount St. Mary’s, 72-65 loss vs. Delaware St.

Wake Forest lost by seven points in a home game against Delaware State on Saturday and leading scorer Devin Thomas was held scoreless. In Delaware State’s previous three games before the win, the Hornets lost 62-55 to North Texas, 99-71 to Arkansas, and 126-76 TO IONA!

That’s right. Danny Manning’s team lost to an opponent that was coming off a 50-point loss to Iona.

Wake Forest, go sit in the corner of the ACC Power Rankings and think about what you’ve done.

Up Next: Minnesota – Dec. 2, @ N.C. State – Dec. 6

What do you think of this week’s rankings? Vote in our poll and share your thoughts in the comments!

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David Aldridge

David Aldridge

David has been a die hard fan of Duke Basketball since the 1990's, when Coach K and the Blue Devils slapped the floor and made their way into his heart. During his playing days, David perfected his role on his basketball team as being the guy who would hold everyone on the bench back after a teammate would make a clutch shot. He once played N.C. State legend David Thompson in a game of H-O-R-S-E. David won.

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