It didn’t take long for the drama and unpredictability of ACC basketball to kick in.
We’re less than two full weeks into regular conference play and we’re already seeing upsets and thrilling finishes around the league.
The quality of the ACC seems to be taking a significant step forward this year.
Here are our Week 9 Power Rankings:
1. Virginia – 15-0, 3-0
The Cavaliers probably deserved this spot before this week, but they took full control of it with a fantastic win on the road against Notre Dame. With wins over Maryland, VCU, and the Fighting Irish, there’s not a team in the country with a more impressive road resume than Virginia. The Hoos probably also deserve the top spot in the national polls.
2. Duke – 14-1, 2-1
Duke looked vulnerable against Wake Forest, and that vulnerability was completely exposed when traveling to Raleigh to take on an N.C. State team that’s more talented and experienced than the Demon Deacons. The Wolfpack had its way against the Blue Devils, and it will be interesting to see how Coach K’s talented freshman trio responds.
3. Notre Dame – 15-2, 3-1
I debated the 2-6 spots in these rankings, and even considered moving the Irish to the No. 2 spot, but I still think Duke would be the better team on a neutral court. That being said, Notre Dame really showed me something in the win on the road against UNC and a close loss at home to UVA. Mike Brey’s club is for real.
4. North Carolina – 12-4, 2-1
It wasn’t necessarily a must-win situation for the Heels against Louisville, but dropping two in a row at home to Notre Dame and Louisville certainly wouldn’t have done much in confidence for this team. UNC found a way to battle back against the Cardinals and Marcus Paige showed why he was the Preseason ACC Player of the Year.
5. Louisville – 14-2, 2-1
It hasn’t taken long for Louisville to get a taste of how difficult it is to win in the ACC. The Cardinals got all they wanted in a six-point win at home against Clemson and then saw a 13-point 2nd half lead evaporate in Chapel Hill that resulted in a heartbreaking loss to the Tar Heels. Welcome to the fun, Coach Pitino!
6. N.C. State – 12-5, 3-1
I really want to move N.C. State higher in these rankings, but that’d be a knee-jerk reaction to the team that beat Duke on Sunday without also realizing it’s the same team that got blown out by Cincinnati a couple weeks ago. However, the Pack had an impressive week. They fought hard against Virginia in Charlottesville until the Hoos pulled away in the final minutes and followed it up with a complete dismantling of Duke. Let’s see if they can sustain the momentum with UNC coming to PNC Arena later this week.
7. Syracuse – 12-4, 3-0
Syracuse is 3-0 in conference play, which is what they should be after games against Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and Florida State. However, the Orange could be in big trouble if freshman forward Chris McCullough has to miss extended time because of the knee injury he suffered in Sunday night’s win.
8. Miami – 11-4, 1-1
I don’t know what to make of Miami. The Canes should have knocked off Virginia last Sunday, but then struggled at home against Boston College. It’s put-up or shut-up time for Miami now as it travels to Duke and Notre Dame for its next two games.
Take your pick – The bottom half of the league is a jumbled mess of teams that all appear to be fully capable of beating each other on any given day. There should be more of a gap between these seven teams because some of them are more talented, but there really isn’t.
9. Wake Forest – 9-8, 1-3
There isn’t a team in the country right now that should feel more optimistic after losing two of its last three than Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons showed great fight in losses to Louisville and Duke, and then took care of business against Georgia Tech. This would have been a classic letdown spot after two emotional games against Top 5 teams. Danny Manning’s young group is showing improvement in being able to move on from those losses by winning a game they should.
10. Georgia Tech – 9-6, 0-3
Put me in the camp that thinks it’s time for a change in Atlanta. Georgia Tech needed to beat Syracuse earlier this week to boost its potential postseason resume but the Jackets couldn’t get the job done on their home floor. Considering the high school basketball talent in the Atlanta area, Brian Gregory really should be doing a much better job with the quality of recruits he’s bringing into the program.
11. Clemson – 9-6, 1-2
Clemson looked like a complete dumpster fire in its loss at home to North Carolina. Then, the Tigers go on the road and give Louisville a battle before heading to Pitt and beating the Panthers at the Petersen Events Center, which has traditionally been one of the more difficult places to win in college basketball. Your guess is as good as mine with the Tigers.
12. Pittsburgh – 11-5, 1-2
Pitt stinks. In looking at their schedule, the Panthers have one quality win this season – a 23-point blowout over Kansas State in Maui. Otherwise, this is a team that can’t score and – the biggest red flag for a Jamie Dixon team – can’t rebound.
13. Florida State – 9-7, 1-2
When Florida State doesn’t have to leave the state of Florida, the Noles are pretty good. Unfortunately for Leonard Hamilton, the ACC requires that you play some road games, which didn’t go so well in a 13-point loss at Syracuse. Up next – a road game at Pitt that should be painful to watch for all parties involved.
14. Boston College – 7-7, 0-3
Good job, good effort, Boston College. The Eagles still can’t get over the hump in close games. They fell by one in overtime to Pitt and then suffered a 4-point loss on the road against Miami. Considering the past couple seasons, I’d think this team has almost no confidence it can find a way to win close games.
15. Virginia Tech – 8-7, 0-2
Raise your hand if you’re surprised Virginia Tech dropped its first two ACC games. I’ve got some real estate I’d like to sell you.
What are your thoughts on this week’s Power Rankings? Let me know on Twitter at @davidmaldridge!