It is February 17th, 2014, and the Virginia Cavaliers are arguably the ACC's best team. And this week, they top our power rankings. Yes, the undefeated Syracuse Orange happen to play in this conference. But "Power Rankings" answer the question: who is playing best right now? And during conference play, the answer has been UVA.
Agree? Feel free to drop your praise in the comments. Disagree? I guess you could let me know as well.
|Team||Record (ACC)||STL Ranking||Last||KenPom Rank||RPI Rank (ESPN)|
|North Carolina||17-7 (7-4)||4||4||25||27|
|NC State||16-9 (6-6)||7||8||69||51|
|Florida State||15-10 (6-7)||9||9||35||59|
|Notre Dame||13-12 (4-8)||10||13||87||108|
|Georgia Tech||13-12 (4-8)||12||12||130||145|
|Wake Forest||14-11 (4-8)||13||10||112||97|
|Boston College||6-18 (2-9)||14||14||150||186|
|Virginia Tech||9-15 (2-10)||15||15||187||221|
Games of the Week:
Mid-week: Thursday: Duke @ UNC
Weekend: Saturday: Syracuse @ Duke
Tier 1 (Virginia goes here)
UVA continued their reign of terror through the ACC by picking up two nice wins over an improved Maryland team and then on the road at Clemson. The Hoos' +.21 EM is significantly better than Cuse's +.15 in conference play (Duke is at + .18), and UVA's schedule has been tougher also. I'm not saying that Virginia should be ranked ahead of Cuse in the polls or seeded higher in brackets, or anything close to that. But, during ACC play, which is 66% over, Virginia has been the conference's best team, and I'm recognizing it here.
This week: Tuesday @ Virginia Tech. Saturday vs. Notre Dame.
Yes, Syracuse hasn't lost a game yet. But I've been tempted to move Duke or UVA in front of them for weeks, and I am finally making the move. The Orange have one of the best teams in the nation, but their perfect record has been a product of the ACC's weakest conference schedule to date and some fantastic luck. This week, they required a miracle buzzer-beater from Tyler Ennis to win at Pitt, then barely hung on to win by 1 at home against NC State. Cuse is a GREAT team. But John Gasaway said it best:
If NC State can go on the road and take the nation's best team to the final possession, I'm not sure that's the nation's best team.— John Gasaway (@JohnGasaway) February 16, 2014
This week: Wednesday vs. Boston College. Saturday @ Duke.
I also considered moving Duke to #1 or #2, but their close home win over Maryland, in which their potent offense scored just 1 PPP (first time since their loss to Clemson), scared me off. That's two wins saved by a friendly bounce of the rims at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Something's up. This should be a fun week for the Blue Devils.
This week: Tuesday @ Georgia Tech. Thursday @ North Carolina. Saturday vs. Syracuse.
Tier 2 (DEFINITELY better than tier 3...DEFINITELY worse than tier 1)
4. North Carolina
UNC continued to solidify their status as "recovered" by picking up their 6th straight win, this time over Pittsburgh. During their 1-4 start, the UNC offense averaged under a point per possession in each game except their win over BC. Since then, they have easily done so in every game. Even James Michael McAdoo has looked respectable during that stretch!
This week: Monday @ Florida State. Thursday vs. Duke. Saturday vs. Wake Forest.
The Panthers are 8-0 against teams below them in these power rankings, but are 0-5 against teams 1 through 4 after blowing two big opportunities against Syracuse and North Carolina. Their losses this year have been by 1, 5, 15, 3, 2, and 4 points. It's tough to feel too bad for them, however, since they needed overtime at Miami and double OT at home against VT.
This week: Sunday @ Florida State.
Tier 3 (Warning: This group was 0-6 against non-Wake Forest teams this week)
The Terps may have put up an 0-2 week, but they showed they are a dangerous team. First, they held UVA to 61 points in 58 possessions in a close game in Charlottesville. Then, they came a bounce away from taking down Duke at Cameron Indoor, holding the Blue Devils to 69 in 69 possessions. What's up with this newfound will to play D? They finish with 4 out of 5 at home, including dates with Syracuse and UVA.
This week: Tuesday vs. Wake Forest.
7. NC State
Like Maryland, the Wolfpack just missed a shot at a real signature win that would leap them on to the good side of the bubble. Still, NC State is in decent shape after winning 5 out of 7. They lack big wins, but will have shots against Pitt and UNC before the year is over. TJ Warren takes 36% of his team's shots when he's in the game, 6th most in the NCAA.
This week: Tuesday @ Clemson. Saturday @ Virginia Tech.
The Clemson offense did something strange, eclipsing 1 PPP for the first time in 6 games and against Virginia, to boot! But it wasn't enough, and the Tigers were saddled with their 3rd straight loss. The schedule lightens up down the stretch, but the last 3 games may have dealt a fatal blow to their NCAA hopes. You've gotta feel bad for KJ McDaniels, who UVA fans saw is just a freak of nature. It's tough to imagine what Clemson's offense would be doing without him.
This week: Tuesday vs. NC State. Saturday @ Georgia Tech.
9. Florida State
I continue to call Florida State's recent performance "struggles"...but maybe they just aren't that good after all. It's ridiculous how often FSU turns the ball over; that, combined with a defense that hasn't been as great as advertised, has led to their losing 5 of their last 7 games. They probably need to win out to contend for an at-large bid to the Big Dance.
This week: Monday vs. North Carolina. Sunday @ Pittsburgh.
Tier 4 (Don't sleep on these guys! But...you could probably doze off a little)
10. Notre Dame
The Irish move up a bit last week after putting together a decent last 3 games. They competed hard against Syracuse and North Carolina, then took down Clemson at home this past week, mostly because their defense has started to come around a bit. It took them a while to realize that they couldn't win shootouts without Jerami Grant on the roster.
This week: Sunday @ Boston College.
>After Miami's win in Tallahassee, I felt vindicated - the Canes have been due for a breakout win for a while. Then, they only scored 45 points in a loss to Virginia Tech...and based on their offense during conference play to date, it wasn't really a fluke.
This week: Wednesday vs. Notre Dame. Saturday vs. Boston College.
12. Georgia Tech
The Georgia Tech offense feasted on Boston College's D, putting up its highest offensive efficiency since the season opener against Presbyterian. Unfortunately, they occasionally play real defenses, and the Yellow Jackets haven't shown any ability to score against them.>
This week: Tuesday vs. Duke. Saturday vs. Clemson.
13. Wake Forest
After a 14-6 (4-3) start to the season, people wondered whether the Demon Deacons were for real. Jeff Bzdelik is still their coach, and they are not for real - they've lost their last five games, including 3 at home. The magic of the Joel is finally fading.
This week: Tuesday vs. Clemson. Sunday @ Boston College.
Tier 5 (LOLHokies)
14. Boston College
BC is 23rd in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency and 319th in defense. That's tied with Northwestern (who plays defense but not offense) for the biggest gap in the nation, and it must be so infuriating for BC fans who expected a big season.
This week: Sunday vs. Notre Dame.
15. Virginia Tech
Congratulations to the Hokies for picking up their first win in 2014! A nice way to follow up that near-miss in Pittsburgh. Chances are that will be their last win...but I won't be comfortable until the Hoos leave Cassel happy tomorrow night.
This week: Tuesday vs. Virginia. Saturday vs. North Carolina St.