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ACC Basketball POWER Rankings: Duke kicks off new year in top spot

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ACC play is officially underway. How does the conference shake out?

NCAA Basketball: Boston College at Virginia Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

As ACC play gets underway, we are quickly learning more about how the conference stacks up. Duke, Virginia, and North Carolina are rising to the top (potentially along with Miami?), while NC State, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, and Pitt are forming a well-defined bottom tier. In the middle? Chaos reigns.

The rankings were based on averaging across the ballots of 15 Streaking the Lawn 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 (13-1, 1-1 ACC, KenPom #4)

Duke is our unanimous No. 1, and is ranked No. 2 nationally, but hasn’t been as dominant as expected this year. Of their seven games against top-100 opponents, they have trailed at some point during the second half in six. Their dominant offense (bolstered by uncharacteristically commanding the offensive boards) has been somewhat offset by a too-porous defense.

2. Virginia Cavaliers (12-1, 1-0 ACC, KenPom #6)

After starting the year unranked, the Hoos have rapidly risen up through the polls, where they now sit at No. 8. Some of that is because of the team’s stellar start to the year, but credit also belongs to its relatively easy schedule since their loss to WVU a month ago. Things get serious this week with games at Blacksburg tonight and against UNC Saturday.

3. North Carolina Tar Heels (12-2, 1-0 ACC, KenPom #11)

After a disastrous home loss to Wofford, UNC narrowly averted another ugly blemish by coming back against Wake Forest late. The departures of Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks have left the team without as pure of an interior presence, though Luke Maye has come into the leading role more than admirably. The Tar Heels have a tough week ahead, with road games against FSU and UVA

4. Miami Hurricanes (12-1, 1-0 ACC, KenPom #17)

Miami’s strong 12-1 record is bolstered by a brutally easy out-of-conference schedule that featured just one game against a major conference opponent (Minnesota in the ACC-Big Ten challenge) and two other games against KenPom top-100 opponents (Middle Tennessee and New Mexico State, though both were at a neutral site). The results of the three games: five point win, three point win, eight point loss.

5. Florida State (11-2, 0-1 ACC KenPom #25)

The shine of FSU’s 17 point road win over the Gators has to overcome an OOC schedule that is otherwise worse than Miami’s. In fairness, the Noles expected little after losing Dwayne Bacon, Jonathan Isaac, and Xavier Rathan-Mayes, so their start has been a nice surprise this season. The dynamic Terance Mann has made 70% of his twos this season and will be a headache for UVA to play against.

6. Clemson Tigers (12-1, 1-0 ACC, KenPom #19)

Clemson has been another nice surprise that is possibly under-ranked here. They’ve more than made up for the loss of Jaron Blossomgame by being more balanced on offense and way better defensively, particularly on the boards where Jaron struggled. They have won eight straight, including games against Ohio State, Florida, South Carolina, and NC State

7. Notre Dame (11-3, 1-0 ACC, KenPom #28)

Not every team in the ACC has been a pleasant surprise. Notre Dame is ultra-talented and has perhaps the best player in the ACC in Bonzie Colson, but has two rough losses to Indiana and Ball State, the latter at home. (To be fair, they also have a big win over Wichita State.) The road just got a little tougher for the Irish as it was announced yesterday that Colson broke his left foot in practice and will be out for approximately eight weeks.

8. Syracuse Orange (12-2, 1-0 ACC, KenPom #44)

Syracuse started off ACC play nicely, stifling an explosive VT offense on their way to an easy win. Their defense has been as good as some of Boeheim’s better teams, though they don’t have much offensive firepower. Tyus Battle, who averages 20 points per game this season and has played every single minute of the last eight games, is looked upon to do pretty much everything, but he does it well.

9. Virginia Tech Hokies (11-3, 0-1 ACC, KenPom #41)

Va Tech was ranked in the preseason top-25 and remained there...basically until people saw them play. Va Tech is a pretty interesting team. They are the best shooting team in the nation, with a blistering 61.5% eFG%. For context, no team has finished above 60% in the past 10 years (though Va Tech won’t either, once conference play gets going). Everyone on their team can hit threes at a shocking clip, which will be difficult for the Hoos to defend tonight. However, they struggle with the non-shooting parts of the game, like playing defense, rebounding, and holding on to the ball. It’s a high-risk, high-reward style that should lead to some big wins, but has already resulted in a couple ugly losses.

10. Boston College Eagles (10-4, 1-1 ACC, KenPom #75)

BC will be a fun team to watch this year to see where they end up. The Eagles didn’t have a particularly impressive start to the season, but seem to have put things together in recent weeks, beating Duke at home and almost taking down the Hoos at JPJ last weekend. Ky Bowman and Jerome Robinson look like two of the most improved players in the conference.

11. Louisville Cardinals (11-3, 1-0 ACC, KenPom #39)

Louisville has lost every time they have played a good team and won every time they have played a not-so-good team, tallying up to an 11-3 record. (That includes a 29-point beatdown to Kentucky.) The Cardinals look like a bubble team at best this season, but it will be fun to see if they can overcome the adversity they have faced (by losing a top recruit because they were caught paying him) and make the Big Dance.

12. Wake Forest (7-6, 0-1 ACC, KenPom #70)

Wake Forest came within seconds of pulling off a huge win over UNC. Amazingly, Wake’s last 6 games against Duke and UNC have all been losses by six or fewer points. Poor Wake! After an encouraging 9-9 ACC season last year and an NCAA berth, the Demon Deacons looks like they’ve taken a step back this season.

13. NC State Wolfpack (10-4, 0-1 ACC, KenPom #83)

Yesterday, head coach Kevin Keatts said of his squad, “When you look at us, we are not as talented as most teams in the ACC.” It’s true. After years of Mark Gottfried teams underperforming despite strong recruiting, Keatts has a fairly empty cupboard to work with this season.

14. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (6-7, 0-1 ACC, KenPom #138)

Georgia Tech’s historic loss to Grambling State kicked off a stretch during which the team dropped six of eight games, including another ugly home loss to Wright St. It’s bizarre how bad the team has been; they made the NIT finals last year and returned their best three players (though Josh Okogie did miss six games with a suspension).

15. Pittsburgh Panthers (8-7, 0-2 ACC, KenPom #178)

Pitt had their biggest win of the year last night against Louisville, when head coach Kevin Stallings yelled at the Louisville student section, “at least we don’t pay our kids $100,000!”

They lost the game 77-51. Oh, and former coach Jamie Dixon has TCU off to a 13-1 start.

Summary Stats

Rank Team Avg Ranking St Deviation
Rank Team Avg Ranking St Deviation
1 Duke 1.0 0.0
2 Virginia 2.4 0.8
3 North Carolina 3.0 0.9
4 Miami 3.8 0.6
5 Florida State 5.0 0.9
6 Clemson 6.3 1.2
7 Notre Dame 6.8 0.5
8 Syracuse 8.3 0.9
9 Virginia Tech 8.9 0.8
10 Boston College 9.8 0.9
11 Louisville 11.5 1.3
12 Wake Forest 11.8 0.9
13 NC State 12.5 0.5
14 Georgia Tech 14.1 0.5
15 Pittsburgh 14.8 0.4

Votes

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