After another week in the books, UVA continues to solidify its spot atop the ACC, while the middle of the conference is in flux. Here are my weekly power rankings - as always, feel free to drop your praise and disagreements down in the comments.
RPI Rank (ESPN)
Games of the Week:
Mid-week: Wednesday: Duke @ UNC (or Syracuse @ Pittsburgh)
Weekend: Saturday: Pittsburgh @ UNC
Syracuse successfully defended their undefeated record over the course of three consecutive home games, including a close one against Notre Dame and a blowout vs. Clemson. However, time is running short - KenPom gives the Orange just a 2.4% of winning out during the regular season, as road trips to Pitt, Duke, Maryland, Virginia, and FSU still loom.
This week: Wednesday @ Pittsburgh. Saturday vs. NC State.
The Hoos played some stretches of excellent basketball this week (first 25 minutes vs. BC, last 10 minutes at Georgia Tech), covering some uglier stretches mixed in. However, every team in the conference has those swoons, and UVA has been able to easily recover, even on the road. Cuse's schedule makes UVA the ACC regular season title favorites, and there's no fluke in that - the Hoos lead the conference in efficiency margin.
This week: Monday vs. Maryland. Saturday @ Clemson.
The Blue Devils are playing GREAT basketball, and only an undefeated team and the hometown Hoos are keeping them from the top spot here. (The three are really 1a/1b/1c at this point). Duke's scoring an absurd 1.24 PPP during conference games, and Jabari Parker's early-season struggles are long in the past. In his 2 games this week, he combined for 50 points on 20-27 shooting.
This week: Wednesday @ North Carolina. Saturday vs. Maryland.
4. North Carolina
The Tar Heels have really turned it on, winning 5 straight games after their 1-4 start. Their offense had broken 1 PPP just once in its first 5 games (71 in 70 possessions at home vs. the worst defense in the conference, BC), but has done so handily during their next 5, while playing very good defense in the process. They'll have a chance this week to show they are for real with two big home games.
This week: Wednesday vs. Duke. Saturday vs. Pitt.
Pitt's had a rough two weeks, and is lucky to have split their past 4 games. They followed their home losses to Duke and UVA with an ugly overtime win at Miami, and then a VERY ugly double overtime win at home against Virginia Tech. Surviving the latter was vital in maintaining their spot firmly in the Big Dance, as that loss could have started a tailspin. A big week follows for the Panthers as well.
This week: Wednesday vs. Syracuse. Saturday @ North Carolina.
Clemson has a winning record 10 games into the ACC season, proving that you don't need to score points to win basketball games. Their offense has been more efficient than only Virginia Tech in ACC play, but they've maintained their spot in the top half of the standings with solid, if non-elite defense (5th in conference play, but 6th in adjusted efficiency in the nation when their non-conference is considered).
This week: Tuesday @ Notre Dame. Saturday vs. Virginia.
The Terps picked up a nice win over Florida State this weekend, their 3rd in 4 games. Like Virginia, the Maryland defense is good on the boards, but they've had big time issues sending their opponents to the line - the Terps are 13th in the conference in eFG% allowed and foul more than any other team, allowing a free-throw attempt for every 2 field goal attempts.
This week: Monday vs. Virginia. Saturday @ Duke.
8. NC State
NC State has quietly won 4 of its last 5 games, including good home wins over Maryland and Florida State. They've had a nice run of luck in doing so, as three of the wins were by 4 points or fewer (one in OT), but a W is a W, right?
This week: Tuesday vs. Wake Forest. Saturday @ Syracuse.
9. Florida State
I want to put Florida State higher than 9th in the conference. Their positive efficiency margin (+.01 in ACC play, better than Maryland's 0 or NC State's -.10 (!), and high KenPom ranking certainly merit it. But these are "Power Rankings" that emphasize recent performance, and the Seminoles have had a rough go of it, losing 4 out of 5 to fall below .500. Last year's FSU team got some lucky breaks and overachieved, and this one is doing precisely the opposite thus far.
This week: Monday vs. Miami. Saturday @ Wake Foret.
10. Wake Forest
No matter how ugly things got for Jeff Bzdelik and his team, Wake Forest was always able to gain some respect based on their extraordinary home court advantage. Has the magic run out for the Demon Deacons, who dropped a home game to Georgia Tech last week? They'll have a few more chances before the team sputters to a finish.
This week: Tuesday @ NC State. Saturday vs. Florida State.
Miami's 2-8 record is the product of some pretty tough luck. After playing Syracuse close for the second time this year, Miami lost by 3 at Maryland, 4 (in OT) against Pitt, and then 1 vs. NC State. They are 1-4 in their conference-high 5 overtime games this season.
This week: Monday @ Florida State. Saturday @ Virginia Tech.
12. Georgia Tech
Georgia Tech played 30 strong minutes against UVA this weekend before collapsing down the stretch. The Yellow Jackets knew they had to get hot behind the three-point line to pull the upset, but their relative strengths lie on the interior. (Relative is the key word there. Their injury-ravaged offense is brutal all around. More Daniel Miller!)
This week: Wednesday vs. Boston College.
13. Notre Dame
Notre Dame's three wins this year: Duke (H), VT (H), BC in overtime (H). How in the WORLD did these guys beat Duke?! Its getting more baffling every day.
This week: Tuesday vs. Clemson. Sunday @ Boston College.
14. Boston College
Boston College has scored more than a point per possession in every ACC game this season. No other conference squad could say that. (Oh, but they give up 1.16 PPP).
This week: Wednesday @ Georgia Tech. Sunday vs. Notre Dame.
15. Virginia Tech
A win at Pittsburgh would have been quite the way to pick up their first win in 2014, but it was not to be for the Hokies, who fell in double overtime.
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