We were treated to some fantastic ACC Basketball this past week.
With three games between Top 15 teams, the league lived up to its reputation as one of the best in the country, and multiple teams are emerging as legitimate Final Four contenders.
Virginia appeared to be poised to take a stranglehold on the top spot in the ACC standings Saturday night with a chance to create a two-game lead over Notre Dame & North Carolina, but Duke’s furious comeback in the final minutes gave the Cavaliers their first loss of the season and kept the regular season race wide open.
And with so many dangerous teams at the top of the league, the next few weeks of ACC basketball could remind us of the glory days of the conference.
The parity at the top of the league makes it extremely difficult to create Power Rankings. While people could vary by criteria, I’m going to base my judgements on which teams I think would fare best when facing each other on a neutral court. Some of this will even contradict results we’ve already seen in league play.
Here are my latest rankings.
Feel free to leave comments to let me know how wrong I am.
Giving away a double-digit lead to Duke in the final four minutes on your home floor is certainly alarming, but let’s not forget Virginia’s overall body of work. This is a team with talent at every position that’s 19-1 and one of the best defensive squads in the country. It took Duke catching fire from the perimeter in the final minutes to steal a victory. I still like the Hoos chances to win the league.
It was a crazy week for the Blue Devils. They were in position to get a huge win on the road against Notre Dame before struggling down the stretch, but did the exact opposite in the improbable upset of Virginia. Duke is still probably the most talented and explosive team in the league. However, it’s still a question of this young group playing with more consistency.
3. Notre Dame
Beating Duke on your home floor in front of a great crowd is nice, but Notre Dame really missed an opportunity to cement itself as an elite team in college basketball this season when it dropped the next game on the road against Pittsburgh. The Irish showed their immaturity by suffering from the Duke hangover, and that’s when the senior leaders like Jerian Grant and Pat Connaughton need to step up.
4. North Carolina
As bad as Duke’s finish against Notre Dame and Virginia’s finish against Duke looked, UNC’s collapse in the 2nd half against Louisville was probably one of the biggest surprises of the weekend around the country. As well as the Heels have been playing, it suddenly feels like they find themselves in an almost “must-win” game Monday night with UVA coming to Chapel Hill.
I’m probably in the minority, but the more I watch Louisville play, the less impressed I am with the Cardinals. They have some talented pieces, but Chris Jones’ inability to run an offense from the point guard position and Montrezl Harrell’s incessant need to show off his jump shot keeps this group from reaching its full potential.
6. N.C. State
While the Wolfpack had lost four of its last five before Saturday’s overtime win at Georgia Tech, Trevor Lacey showed again with his buzzer beater three-pointer over the Yellow Jackets that he’s one of the best playmakers in the ACC. N.C. State is still struggling to put complete games together and it’ll drive Pack fans crazy, but this team is extremely dangerous.
Syracuse jumped out to a quick 4-0 start in conference play, but that was primarily a result of the weak schedule instead of the quality of this team. Now, the Orange have dropped three of their last four games and really need to win at home vs. Virginia Tech this week before heading on the road for two games.
This Miami team makes no sense. After wins over N.C. State and on the road against Syracuse, the Hurricanes have dropped their past two to Georgia Tech and Florida State. And the 20-point home loss to the Yellow Jackets is one of the strangest results of any ACC game all season. With the way things are going, it’ll make complete sense that Miami beats Louisville this week.
One month ago, it looked like the Tigers were on their way to being one of the worst teams in the league. Yet, they’ve four of the last five games and suddenly find themselves at 5-4 in ACC play. And while it’s not pretty because it never is with Brad Brownell, it’s been surprisingly effective.
It didn’t take long for Pittsburgh to acclimate itself to the #goacc culture. The Panthers became the first ACC team to lose to Virginia Tech since February of last year and then promptly followed it up with a win over a Top 10 Notre Dame team. Pitt still struggles to find consistent post play, but James Robinson and Jamel Artis are starting to step up.
11. Florida State
No one is noticing, especially Florida State fans because they’re more concerned about National Signing Day for football, but the Seminoles have actually been playing some decent basketball over the past few weeks. Leonard Hamilton’s team has won three of its last four, with the only loss being a closely played 4-point defeat against UNC in Chapel Hill.
12. Wake Forest
It feels like Wake Forest is the most talented of the bottom-level teams in the ACC, but the Deacons have had so much trouble over the past few years they still don’t know how to play consistently or find ways to win close games. Still, it’s hard not to see Danny Manning getting this turned around pretty quickly.
13. Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech has no business being anywhere other than the worst team in the league based on talent, but this is a credit to Buzz Williams and how hard his kids play. Though this roster is outmatched in every game, the Hokies play with relentless effort and fight and it’s enough to keep them in most games. Similar to Danny Manning, just give Buzz Williams a little time and Virginia Tech will be a factor in the ACC.
14. Georgia Tech
This actually was a chance for Georgia Tech to have a pretty good week before the heartbreaking overtime loss to N.C. State on Saturday afternoon. Still, I’ll give them credit for the 20-point on the road earlier in the week over Miami.
15. Boston College
Is there a more irrelevant team in ACC basketball right now than Boston College? I feel bad for Olivier Hanlan that he’s spent the past three years being great for a program that no one could care less about.
What are your thoughts on my latest rankings? Let me know in the comments section!