Week 8 feels like the part of the season when ACC basketball truly begins.
We’ve finally reached the portion of the schedule when conference games become commonplace and we can expect most schools to have a couple league games every week.
This past weekend gave us a full slate of ACC contests and there were some fantastic battles around the conference.
Here’s how things shook out in my latest ACC Basketball Power Rankings.
Last Week’s Ranking: 1
Games: 86-69 win vs. Toledo, 84-55 win vs. Wofford, 85-62 win vs. Boston College
Jahlil Okafor is becoming more comfortable with his role as a dominant presence and he’s starting to emerge as the best player in the country. He’s giving the Blue Devils a nearly unstoppable center piece in the paint, which makes Duke the frontrunner for the conference crown.
Up Next: @ Wake Forest – Jan. 7, @ N.C. State – Jan. 11
Last Week’s Ranking: 2
Games: 83-72 win vs. Davidson, 89-80 win @ Miami
Virginia had to make a 2nd half comeback to defeat Davidson and nearly collapsed in the double overtime victory on the road at Miami, but it was still good enough to keep the Cavaliers undefeated.
Up Next: N.C. State – Jan. 7, @ Notre Dame – Jan. 10
Last Week’s Ranking: 3
Games: 63-48 win vs. Long Beach St., 85-76 @ Wake Forest
Louisville got its first taste of life on the road in the ACC with a battle at Wake Forest, but the Cardinals were able to survive behind a fantastic effort from Montrezl Harrell, Terry Rozier, and Chris Jones.
Up Next: Clemson – Jan. 7, @ UNC – Jan. 10
4. Notre Dame
Last Week’s Ranking: 4
Games: 87-60 win vs. Hartford, 83-76 win vs. Georgia Tech
Though Notre Dame had to go to two overtimes to beat Georgia Tech, the Fighting Irish were able to get the job done. Jerian Grant led the way with 24 points and had one of the most impressive dunks of the season.
Up Next: @ UNC – Jan. 5, Virginia – Jan. 10
5. North Carolina
Last Week’s Ranking: 5
Games: 86-64 win vs. William & Mary, 74-50 win @ Clemson
Things are starting to come together for North Carolina as the Heels have won five straight since the loss at Kentucky. We’ll see if UNC is ready to emerge as one of the top teams in the ACC with home games against Notre Dame and Louisville this week.
Up Next: Notre Dame – Jan. 5, Louisville – Jan. 10
6. N.C. State
Last Week’s Ranking: 6
Games: 76-60 loss vs. Cincinnati, 68-50 win vs. Pittsburgh
N.C. State continues to be one of the more difficult teams to measure in the league. The Wolfpack are talented, but struggle with consistency. When they play poorly, we get games like the 16-point loss to Cincinnati. When they play well, we see things like the 18-point blowout of Pittsburgh.
Up Next: @ Virginia – Jan. 7, Duke – Jan. 11
Last Week’s Ranking: 7
Games: 61-44 win vs. Cornell, 68-66 win @ Virginia Tech
Syracuse had a solid win at home against Cornell and then had a win over Virginia Tech on the road that was much closer than it should have been, with the Orange nearly losing a 9-point lead in the final minute of play before holding on for the narrow escape.
Up Next: @ Georgia Tech – Jan. 7, Florida State – Jan. 11
Last Week’s Ranking: 9
Games: 67-40 win vs. College of Charleston, 89-80 loss vs. Virginia
Losing at home is never much of a positive, but the Hurricanes showed outstanding fight in their double overtime loss to Virginia. When Angel Rodriguez is playing well, Miami is capable of beating almost any team in college basketball.
Up Next: Boston College – Jan. 10
9. Georgia Tech
Last Week’s Ranking: 10
Games: 67-66 win vs. Charlotte, 83-76 loss @ Notre Dame
I was extremely surprised that Georgia Tech was able to go on the road to South Bend and push Notre Dame to double overtime before ultimately falling short. I expected it to be a bad matchup for the Yellow Jackets and for them to struggle to find enough offense to keep up with the Irish. Brian Gregory’s team showed some heart, which bodes well for the remainder of the season.
Up Next: Syracuse – Jan. 7, @ Wake Forest – Jan. 10
Last Week’s Ranking: 8
Games: 71-54 win vs. Florida Gulf Coast, 68-50 loss @ N.C. State
The Panthers continue to be an offensive mess, and it was on full display in Saturday’s loss to N.C. State. Pittsburgh shot 32% from the field and Cameron Wright, who was expected to be the team’s primary scoring option this season, was just 2-for-13.
Up Next: @ Boston College – Jan. 6, Clemson – Jan. 10
11. Boston College
Last Week’s Ranking: 13
Games: 70-47 win vs. UMass Lowell, 85-62 loss @ Duke
The final outcome probably wasn’t what head coach Jim Christian was hoping for against Duke, but the Eagles showed grit and toughness in the 23-point loss at Cameron Indoor Stadium. With Olivier Hanlan leading the way, don’t be shocked if Boston College pulls a few surprise upsets this season in league play.
Up Next: Pittsburgh – Jan. 6, @ Miami – Jan. 10
12. Florida State
Last Week’s Ranking: 12
Games: 65-63 win vs. Florida, 62-55 loss @ Mississippi State
Florida State beat Florida on one of the more improbably plays you’ll ever see to end a game – when a Florida player accidentally tipped a missed shot into the FSU basket just as time expired to give the Seminoles the victory. Instead of being able to capitalize on the momentum, the Noles promptly traveled to Starkville and lost to Mississippi State by seven. This team has very little to get excited about.
Up Next: Virginia Tech – Jan. 6, @ Syracuse – Jan. 11
13. Wake Forest
Last Week’s Ranking: 15
Games: 80-66 win vs. Princeton, 85-76 loss vs. Louisville
Danny Manning’s squad is showing signs of life. The Demon Deacons took care of business against Princeton and then had a solid performance in a loss to Louisville. Devin Thomas was particularly impressive against the Cardinals, finishing with 31 points and 11 rebounds.
Up Next: Duke – Jan. 7, Georgia Tech – Jan. 10
14. Virginia Tech
Last Week’s Ranking: 14
Games: 82-51 loss @ West Virginia, 68-66 loss vs. Syracuse
Virginia Tech is improving, but there’s still the issue of putting together complete gamees. The Hokies hung tough in the first half on the road at West Virginia before being outscored 49-21 after the intermission. It was the opposite against Syracuse, where Virginia Tech made it close at the end but was unable to dig out of a 19-point halftime deficit.
Up Next: @ Florida State – Jan. 6
Last Week’s Ranking: 11
Games: 64-57 win vs. Robert Morris, 74-50 loss vs. UNC
Clemson’s lack of offense is painful. The Tigers had just 17 first half points in Saturday’s loss to North Carolina and were dominated in nearly every facet of the game, including shooting 28% from the field. And things probably won’t get any better this week with road trips to Louisville and Pittsburgh on the schedule.
Up Next: @ Louisville – Jan. 7, @ Pittsburgh – Jan. 10