The ACC Basketball Power Rankings are a new series we’ll be featuring this season.
I’ll be posting this every Monday and it will be based on the games from the previous week.
Every team in the conference was in action this weekend and, fortunately, the league avoided any truly embarrassing losses to open the year. SEC Basketball fans (if there is such a thing) are probably wishing they could say the same.
It’s nitpicking to compare a league full of teams that have only played one or two games, but things should begin to sort themselves out in the coming weeks as schools face more difficult nonconference opponents.
Here are our Power Rankings after the first weekend of games.
Games: 113-44 win vs. Presbyterian, 109-59 win vs. Fairfield
The Blue Devils were as impressive as any team in the country this past weekend. Duke was dominant in back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday night, and the freshmen are quickly showing why they made up the No. 1 recruiting class in America this past year.
Much has been made about Kentucky’s depth going into this season, but Mike Krzyzewski also has a rotation that features 10 guys who could play significant minutes.
Games: 81-68 win vs. Minnesota in Puerto Rico
Louisville traveled to Puerto Rico to take on Minnesota in the Armed Forces Classic at the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen. The Cardinals took care of business against a Golden Gopher squad that should reach the NCAA Tournament, and Rick Pitino successfully navigated the unenviable task of beating his son, who is the head coach at Minnesota.
Montrezl Harrell was fantastic in the win, scoring 30 points and seven rebounds, including shooting 3-of-4 from three-point range and 9-of-10 from the free throw line. He’s going to have a monster year.
Games: 79-51 win at James Madison, 67-39 win vs. Norfolk St.
It’s always risky to open the season against an in-state opponent on the road, but Virginia had no trouble at James Madison on Friday night. The Cavaliers were dominant from the opening tip, despite being without point guard London Perrantes, who was suspended for the game.
Tony Bennett’s suffocating defense was on display again in Sunday night’s win over Norfolk State. The Cavaliers held Norfolk St. to 23% shooting from the field in the 28-point victory.
4. North Carolina
Games: 76-60 win vs. North Carolina Central, 103-59 win vs. Robert Morris
North Carolina struggled in Friday’s season opener against N.C. Central. Preseason ACC Player of the Year Marcus Paige had just eight points on 2-of-8 shooting and the Heels looked tentative on offense.
They quickly got things turned around with Sunday’s 44-point win over Robert Morris. Kennedy Meeks and Brice Johnson were dominant in the paint, combining for 44 points and 20 rebounds while shooting 16-for-22 from the field. It was a balanced type of effort that should make UNC very strong this season.
5. Notre Dame
Games: 82-39 win vs. Binghamton, 92-53 win vs. Navy
Notre Dame made short work of Binghamton in Friday night’s opener and then looked very solid against a Navy team that gave Michigan St. all it could handle on Friday. The Irish have shot over 55% from the field in both games and are really sharing the ball well.
One of the biggest x-factors for this team is 6’10”, 240-pound junior forward Zach Auguste, who’s off to a great start and is averaging 19 points. If he plays well, he gives Mike Brey a different dimension in the frontcourt.
Games: 89-42 win vs. Kennesaw St., 65-47 win vs. Hampton
While Syracuse had no trouble with Kennesaw St., the Orange didn’t look particularly sharp against Hampton. The Pirates were actually within six points with 8:17 remaining before Syracuse went on a 10-0 run to put the game away.
Rakeem Christmas appears ready to take a major step forward as an offensive contributor for the Orange this season. The senior forward has led the team in scoring in both games and he’s also averaging 12.5 rebounds.
7. N.C. State
Games: 93-58 win vs. Jackson St.
N.C. State fans couldn’t have asked for a better start to the season for sophomore point guard Anthony “Cat” Barber. He led the team in the blowout win over Jackson St. with an outstanding all-around performance – 25 points, six rebounds, six assists, two steals, and no turnovers. It was a perfect showing of why he was considered one of the top players in America coming out of high school.
Games: 78-45 win vs. Niagara, 63-56 win vs. Samford
If it’s possible to be disappointed after going 2-0 in the opening weekend of the season, that’s probably what you have with Pittsburgh right now. The Panthers looked solid in Friday’s win over Niagara, but the school also announced Friday that forward Durand Johnson would be suspended for the entire season. Johnson was expected to be a key contributor for Jamie Dixon’s squad this year.
Pitt then followed that up with a very shaky performance in a 7-point win over a Samford team that is projected to finish last in the Southern Conference and lost to Purdue by 40 points on Friday night. The Panthers may be 2-0, but there’s certainly some cause for concern.
9. Georgia Tech
Games: 80-73 win vs. Georgia
Georgia Tech had one of the more impressive wins of the weekend, knocking off a Georgia team that is expected to contend for a spot in the NCAA Tournament. The Yellow Jackets nearly gave the game away down the stretch, but some clutch free throw shooting in the final minute and a great night from Quinton Stephens was enough to get Brian Gregory this important victory.
It was also a great debut for Charles Mitchell as the Maryland transfer finished with 20 points and nine rebounds.
10. Florida State
Games: 81-66 win vs. Manhattan
It must be something with Florida State teams letting opponents jump out to an early lead before mounting a comeback. The Noles trailed by 10 in the first half against the hot-shooting Jaspers, but Leonard Hamilton’s team settled down and eventually took a 37-31 lead by halftime before putting the game away in the second half.
The win featured a very balanced offensive attack for FSU, which finished with six players scoring in double figures.
Games: 84-49 win vs. Howard
Jim Larranaga is expected to lean heavily on the Miami backcourt this season and the guards showed why in Friday night’s win. Miami guards combined for 74 of the team’s 84 points, with Sheldon McClellan leading the way with 19 points.
We should get a much better idea about this Miami team this week as the Hurricanes travel to Gainesville to take on No. 7 Florida.
Games: 86-41 win vs. Florida A&M
Clemson has always been built around defense under Brad Brownell, and it was more of the same in the season opener against Florida A&M. The Tigers held Florida A&M to just 33% shooting from the field and they were 0-for-7 from three-point range. There wasn’t a team in college basketball last season better than Clemson at defending the three-point shot and the Tigers are off to a good start in that area again.
13. Wake Forest
Games: 80-69 win vs. UNC Asheville
Danny Manning notched his first victory as the head coach of the Demon Deacons with an 11-point victory over UNC Asheville that was a little closer than it should have been. You can bet one area of emphasis Manning will focus on with his team this week is protecting the ball as the Deacs committed 24 turnovers in the season opener.
I wrote in my Wake Forest preview that Devin Thomas would be a key to the team’s success this season. He got off to a strong start Friday night, grabbing 25 points and 13 rebounds in 34 minutes of action.
14. Virginia Tech
Games: 71-46 win vs. Maryland-Eastern Shore
The Buzz Williams era is off on the right foot in Blacksburg as the Hokies had little trouble with Maryland-Eastern Shore. Virginia Tech did a great job capitalizing off turnovers to create an early lead, while also holding on to the ball themselves. The Hokies finished the game with just six turnovers.
15. Boston College
Games: 58-50 win vs. New Hampshire, 71-62 loss vs. UMass
It’s not much of a surprise that Boston College was the first team in the league to suffer a loss this season. The Eagles battled for a win over New Hampshire in Jim Christian’s first game as head coach, but they couldn’t keep the positive momentum going against UMass. Boston College actually appeared to be in good position to move to 2-0 before a 21-5 UMass run to start the 2nd half put the game away.
Do you agree with our Power Rankings? Vote in our poll and let me know what you think in the comments section!