During a thrilling week of ACC action, we learned a great deal about how the conference race may look down the stretch...and oh my goodness, it may include Virginia.
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: Tuesday: Wake Forest @ Duke
Weekend: Saturday: Clemson @ Syracuse
(Sorry guys - just one matchup between the top 7 of these standings).
The Orange held on against Duke in a game for the ages at the Carrier Dome, and in doing so, they held on to the top spot in these rankings. Their road tests at Virginia, Duke, Pitt, and Florida State are still looming - KenPom gives them just a 2% chance of emerging undefeated, but they should be fine this week.
This week: Monday vs. Notre Dame. Sunday vs. Clemson.
What a week for the Hoos! UVA absolutely demolished Notre Dame on the road, then went to Pitt and gutted out a dramatic win against the Panthers. With the second half schedule looking favorable, the Hoos are a serious competitor to win the ACC crown. Hoo'd a thunk it back in late December?
This week: Wednesday vs. BC. Saturday @ GT.
There's no shame in an overtime road loss at the #1 team in the nation, but that did drop the Blue Devils a full 2 games behind Virginia. Still, they are playing excellent basketball these days and are as dangerous as Cuse and UVA atop the ACC. Their offense is ranked best in the nation in adjusted efficiency, and they're scoring a boggling 1.21 PPP in conference play.
This week: Tuesday vs. Wake Forest. Saturday @ BC.
With two home games against Duke and UVA, the Panthers had a chance to show that their computer ranking is no fluke. And, while it is no fluke, their lack of quality victories is going to continue to cost them national media respect. This is a very good team, but their best win is a neutral site victory over Stanford back in November.
This week: Wednesday @ Miami. Saturday vs. VT.
5. North Carolina
There is a GIGANTIC gulf between UNC and the top tier of the ACC. Just huge. But the Tar Heels have recovered nicely from their 1-4 ACC start, reeling off 3 straight wins and finally figuring out how to score points. Their SOS numbers mean that Carolina is in good shape for an NCAA berth.
This week: Tuesday vs. Maryland. Saturday @ Notre Dame.
I would've loved to keep Clemson in front of UNC, but that 80-61 demolition in Chapel Hill is still fresh in my mind. The Tigers are in good shape, however, after ending a tough 3-game road trip with a win in Tallahassee. Despite their #9 national ranking in adjusted efficiency, Clemson's D has been pedestrian during ACC play (1.03 PPP, sixth in the conference).
This week: Tuesday vs. GT. Sunday @ Syracuse.
7. Florida State
FSU has played the toughest schedule in the conference thus far, and it hasn't been treating them well. The Seminoles have lost 3 straight and 4 of 5. None of those losses (@UVA, @Duke, @NC State, vs. Clemson) are particularly embarrassing, but the Noles have to get going soon and they are held back by two fatal flaws: They don't rebound well on defense and they turn the ball over WAY too often.
This week: Wednesday vs. VT. Saturday @ Maryland.
8. NC State
It took some breaks in an overtime game against Maryland, but the Pack won 3 in a row at home before falling at UNC. The Wolfpack are definitely a step below the UNC/Clemson/FSU tier, but they took a step toward rising above the top of the decidedly non-NCAA caliber tier of the conference.
This week: Saturday @ Miami.
The Terps have been riding their weak conference schedule to an over .500 record by taking care of business against the bottom of the ACC - they are 5-0 against teams below them in these rankings, but 0-4 against those above them. However, with 7 of their 9 remaining games against the latter category, it may be tough for Maryland to keep treading water.
This week: Tuesday @ North Carolina. Saturday vs. Florida State.
10. Wake Forest
So much for that dominance at the Joel. Wake Forest was thumped by Syracuse, then fell at home to Georgia Tech. Oops. That win against Carolina seems like ages ago.
This week: Tuesday @ Duke.
Miami has a road win at UNC and two very well-played games against Syracuse to hang their hats on. They could also rest more easily knowing the schedule won't be as brutal down the stretch (starting with their bizarre game against Norfolk State. It's February)!
This week: Wednesday vs. Pitt. Saturday vs. NC State.
12. Georgia Tech
The Yellow Jacket season continues to putter along, though they did pick up a shocking win at Wake Forest. Marcus Georges-Hunt scored a career-high 23 points in that one, and looks to be the only hope for GT's anemic offense.
This week: Tuesday @ Clemson. Saturday vs. Virginia.
13. Notre Dame
It didn't seem possible to feel lower than after their absolute dismantling at the hands of Virginia, but Notre Dame may have accomplished that by needing overtime to overcome BC at home. Opponents have managed a conference-worst eFG% of 53% during ACC play - ND may as well stand for "No Defense" (HA!)
This week: Monday @ Syracuse. Saturday vs. North Carolina
14. Boston College
Fun-fact: BC's offense has been better on a per-possession basis than Virginia during ACC play, ranking 4th at 1.10 PPP. More fun fact: BC allows 1.13 PPP, worse than all teams but VT. That -.03 efficiency margin suggests they may be better than second-to-last in the conference, but the results haven't shown that yet.
This week: Wednesday @ Virginia. Saturday vs. Duke.
15. Virginia Tech
The Hokies have the worst offense and the worst defense during conference play. Their coach is outwardly trashing his players. They have yet to win in the year 2014. This is fun.
This week: Wednesday @ FSU. Saturday @ Pitt.