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ACC Basketball Power Rankings - Exam Week Check-in

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NCAA Basketball: Lehigh at Virginia Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

Basketball season may be the best time of year, but the annual 10-day exam break is definitely the worst part of the season. The bright spot: It allows us to pause and update our ACC POWER rankings with most of non-conference play now behind us. UVA will host Davidson, Savannah State, and Hampton before kicking off ACC play against Boston College on 12/30.

The rankings were based on averaging across the ballots of 15 STL staff members. Scroll to the bottom for full rankings from each writer as well as overall means and standard deviations for each team.

1. Duke Blue Devils (11-1, 0-1 ACC, KenPom #6)

While sweeping their way through non-conference play to date, Duke showed flashes of dominance...and also some cause for concern, as they trailed Portland State, Texas, Florida, and Indiana in the second half before storming back. But things came to a head when they dropped their ACC opener against BC, kicking off a fun 3-week stretch where Duke will sit alone in the conference basement. The Blue Devil offense is as dominant as ever, as they have made up for their relative lack of three-point shooting by leading the nation in offensive rebounding. But defensive struggles will dog them all year.

2. North Carolina Tar Heels (9-1, KenPom #9)

Their lack of “big-time” wins (Michigan at home doesn’t count) has kept UNC largely out of the national conversation, but they have the pieces to be a major factor this year. Luke Maye, ranked 7th in KenPom’s Player of the Year rankings, has had a breakout year, adequately making up much of the production lost when Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks departed.

T-3. Virginia Cavaliers (8-1, KenPom #3)

Yeah, beating WVU on the road would have been fun. But 1 month ago, I think all of us would gladly have taken an 8-1 record at this point. Read more on the Virginia Cavaliers at streaking the lawn dot com.

T-3. Miami Hurricanes (8-0, KenPom #15)

One of just 6 remaining undefeated teams in college basketball, Miami has largely coasted to where they are now, but picked up a nice win in Minnesota along the way. They’ve done it with an elite defense ranked 5th in the nation to date, by far the best of Larranega’s stint at Miami.

5. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (8-2, KenPom #18)

The Irish picked up one of the ACC’s best wins of non-conference play, taking down #3 Wichita State in a thriller, but followed it up with a home loss to Ball State last week. Bonzie Colson is a legit Player of the Year candidate, using 29% of ND possessions and making 59% of his 2s, while also sitting at 3rd in the ACC in steal % and cleaning up the boards.

6. Florida State Seminoles (9-0, KenPom #25)

The Seminoles, the ACC’s other undefeated squad, also played a cupcake-filled OOC schedule, with one exception; they traveled to Gainesville and crushed the Gators, 83-66. The jury is still out, but when the 6th best team in the conference is undefeated, it’s a good sign that ACC play should be fun.

7. Louisville Cardinals (7-2, KenPom #26)

David Padgett’s Cardinals squad has looked pretty similar to Rick Pitino’s teams, featuring a tenacious defense that ranks 3rd in the nation in block %, and a grinding offense. Losing 4 starters from last season has weighed on that offense, leaving the team desperately in need of shooters.

T-8. Clemson Tigers (8-1, KenPom #33)

Though we expected a drop-off from last season after Jaron Blossomgame’s graduation, the Tigers have had a pretty solid showing in the non-conference, avoiding upsets and taking down OSU on the road. (They did start 11-2 last season before dropping 12 of their next 15...) They may not have Blossomgame’s offense, but the Tigers start 5 upperclassmen who have played strong defense. Most notably, the loss of Blossomgame (and additional PT for Elijah Thomas) have factored into the team’s improvement from 295th in defensive rebounding last year to 8th this season to date.

T-8. Virginia Tech Hokies (9-1, KenPom #28)

Quick, name the best shooting team in the nation! You probably VaTech, since this falls under their heading, and you are right; VT is by far tops with a 64.2% eFG%. All 5 of their starters shoot over 45% from behind the arc (and all average more than 1 three-point attempt per game). To be fair, a lot of this stems from a schedule rated 11th worst in the nation. We’ll see if VaTech is for real when they play at Kentucky on Saturday.

10. Syracuse Orange (8-1, KenPom #55)

The Orange offense has been unique this year, as they’ve been terrible at putting the ball in the basket (and the 2nd worst 3-point shooting team among major conference squads), but one of the best teams on the offensive boards, like a less-proficient version of 2017 UNC. They start the tallest lineup in the nation, led by the 7’2” Paschal Chukwu, and lead in blocks as well.

11. Boston College Eagles (8-3, KenPom #84)

Pretty disrespectful of us to put the first-place team in the ACC down here at #11. (And it wasn’t Paul Wiley’s choice either - he had BC first on his ballot which is...interesting.) They are well on their way to surpassing 4 conference wins for the first time since 2013.

12. NC State Wolfpack (8-2, KenPom #75)

NC State’s 8-2 record is boosted by playing zero nonconference road games, but they do have a nice neutral-court win over Arizona during the Wildcats’ tailspin. Kevin Keatts has his team playing more inspired defense than they did under Mark Gottfried’s tenure...though that bar is a low one.

13. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (6-4, KenPom #64)

Wake started the year 0-3 with losses to Georgia Southern, Liberty, and Drake, but have bounced back a bit since. Wake actually has a pretty solid offense, led by the dynamic Bryant Crawford, who averages 16 points per game this year under heavy usage. When they’ve lost, it’s because they’ve been clobbered on the defensive end, where they’ve especially been victimized on the defensive boards.

14. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (4-4, KenPom #91)

Georgia Tech’s home loss to Grambling St. was one of the ACC’s worst in recent memory, meaning I can’t find examples of any worse losses. (Grambling celebrated by losing by 34 to Grand Canyon days later.) The cupboard is fairly bare on the offensive end, and if Ben Lammers or Jose Alvarado has an off night, well.....they may lose to bad SWAC teams.

15. Pittsburgh Panthers (5-5, KenPom #152)

Pitt is also quite bad. It’s not surprising. They were pretty bad last year, and that was despite having Michael Young, Jamel Artis, and Sheldon Jeter on their team. Kevin Stallings coached 18 years at Vanderbilt before coming to Pitt to replace Jamie Dixon, who had been with the program 13 seasons. I am guessing Stallings won’t make it to double-digits.

Team Rankings

Rank Team Avg Ranking St Deviation
Rank Team Avg Ranking St Deviation
1 Duke 2.14 3.72
2 North Carolina 2.57 0.76
T-3 Miami 3.64 1.15
T-3 Virginia 3.64 1.55
5 Notre Dame 5.07 0.92
6 Florida State 5.36 0.84
7 Louisville 8.07 1.00
T-8 Clemson 8.57 1.09
T-8 Virginia Tech 8.57 2.11
10 Syracuse 9.50 1.02
11 Boston College 9.77 3.94
12 NC State 11.57 0.85
13 Wake Forest 12.86 0.95
14 Georgia Tech 13.93 0.73
15 Pittsburgh 14.57 0.65

Individual Rankings

Caroline Will Brian S Brian L Tim Tiki Neckel Trogs Wiley Ellis Ryan Hobeck Alex Luke Pierce
Caroline Will Brian S Brian L Tim Tiki Neckel Trogs Wiley Ellis Ryan Hobeck Alex Luke Pierce
Duke Duke Duke Duke Duke Duke Duke Boston College Boston College Duke Duke Virginia Duke Miami Duke
North Carolina North Carolina North Carolina North Carolina North Carolina Virginia North Carolina Duke North Carolina Miami Miami Duke North Carolina Duke Miami
Virginia Notre Dame Virginia Miami Miami North Carolina Virginia North Carolina Virginia Florida State North Carolina North Carolina Virginia Virginia Virginia
Miami Virginia Miami Virginia Notre Dame Miami Miami Miami Notre Dame North Carolina Virginia Miami Miami North Carolina North Carolina
Florida State Miami Notre Dame Notre Dame Virginia Florida State Florida State Notre Dame Florida State Notre Dame Notre Dame Florida State Notre Dame Notre Dame Florida State
Notre Dame Florida State Florida State Florida State Florida State Notre Dame Notre Dame Florida State Miami Virginia Florida State Notre Dame Florida State Florida State Notre Dame
Louisville Clemson Louisville Syracuse Virginia Tech Clemson Virginia Tech Virginia Virginia Tech Virginia Tech Louisville Louisville Louisville Louisville Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech Syracuse Clemson Clemson Clemson Louisville Clemson Louisville Louisville Syracuse Virginia Tech Clemson Virginia Tech Virginia Tech Louisville
Clemson Louisville Virginia Tech Virginia Tech Louisville Virginia Tech Louisville Clemson Clemson Louisville Clemson Virginia Tech Clemson Syracuse NC State
Syracuse Virginia Tech Syracuse Louisville Syracuse Syracuse Syracuse Syracuse Syracuse Clemson Syracuse Syracuse Syracuse NC State Syracuse
Boston College Boston College Boston College Boston College NC State Boston College NC State Wake Forest Wake Forest NC State Boston College Boston College Boston College Clemson Clemson
NC State NC State NC State NC State Boston College NC State Wake Forest NC State NC State Boston College NC State NC State NC State Wake Forest Boston College
Wake Forest Georgia Tech Wake Forest Pittsburgh Wake Forest Wake Forest Boston College Georgia Tech Georgia Tech Wake Forest Georgia Tech Wake Forest Wake Forest Boston College Wake Forest
Georgia Tech Wake Forest Georgia Tech Wake Forest Georgia Tech Pittsburgh Georgia Tech Pittsburgh Pittsburgh Georgia Tech Wake Forest Georgia Tech Georgia Tech Georgia Tech Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh Pittsburgh Pittsburgh Georgia Tech Pittsburgh Georgia Tech Pittsburgh Virginia Tech Duke Pittsburgh Pittsburgh Pittsburgh Pittsburgh Pittsburgh Georgia Tech