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ACC Power Rankings: Week of 3/4/2014

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

No doubt about it - we da best! But what about all those other teams? With 1 week of conference play remaining, who could be the toughest outs come tournament time?

Here are my weekly power rankings:

Team Record (ACC) STL Ranking Last KenPom Rank RPI Rank (ESPN)
Virginia 25-5 (16-1) 1 1 2 10
Duke 23-6 (12-4) 2 2 3 8
North Carolina 23-7 (13-4) 3 4 25 18
Syracuse 26-3 (13-3) 4 3 11 6
Pittsburgh 22-8 (10-7) 5 6 26 50
Maryland 15-14 (7-9) 6 7 52 78
Florida State 17-11 (8-8) 7 8 36 56
Clemson 18-10 (9-7) 8 5 50 71
NC State 18-12 (8-9) 9 9 79 60
Miami 15-14 (6-10) 10 10 69 105
Notre Dame 15-16 (6-12) 11 11 93 117
Georgia Tech 13-16 (4-12) 12 12 137 173
Boston College 8-21 (4-12) 13 14 139 179
Wake Forest 15-14 (5-11) 14 13 134 115
Virginia Tech 9-19 (2-14) 15 15 182 225

Games of the Week:

Mid-week: Tuesday: Miami @ Clemson

Weekend: Saturday: North Carolina @ Duke

1. Virginia

Ladies and gentlemen, your ACC regular season champions! And winning it outright (and perhaps by 2 games) should silence the schedule doubters. Yes, UVA's conference schedule was the ACC's weakest. There are five easy counters you can use on the doubters: 1) UNC, Duke, and Syracuse all played schedules of below-average difficulties. 2) UVA's SOS numbers are even more deflated by not playing the conference's best team, itself. 3) Teams play 14 "balanced" games and then 4 "unbalanced" games. Those 4 different games don't equal 2 wins in the standings. 4) Virginia dominated in their wins, as more than half were by double-digits, while peer teams all had stumbles against the lower-tier. 5) UVA's overall schedule strength is 32nd in the nation.

This week: Sunday @ Maryland.

2. Duke

If someone wanted to argue that Duke is the ACC's best team, they'd be wrong. But it's not totally outlandish. Since their shaky start to ACC play (remember, we had a rough stretch too..) the Blue Devils have two close road losses to Syracuse and UNC, and have been almost as dominant as Virginia in their wins. As well as North Carolina has been playing, I'd much rather Duke win out and stay on the opposite side of the ACC bracket from UVA.

This week: Wednesday @ Wake Forest. Saturday vs. North Carolina.

3. North Carolina

On January 20, UNC came to Charlottesville and got hammered to fall to 1-4. Despite early games against Wake Forest and Boston College, their offense was by far the ACC's worst at that point. Since then, UNC has won 12 straight games, and has really been clicking on offense behind the emergence of Marcus Paige as a more consistent scorer. He had fewer than 10 points in 3 of the team's 4 early losses, then eclipsed that mark in 10 straight games until UNC's recent close calls at VT and vs. ND. In other words, UNC really needs him to score.

This week: Saturday @ Duke.

4. Syracuse

From a "resume" or "body of work" perspective, Syracuse is still probably atop the conference. But the fact of the matter is that UVA, Duke, and UNC are playing their best basketball of the year. The Orange are a great team, and perhaps still an elite team. But they're obviously skidding now. No matter how impressive Tyler Ennis and CJ Fair are, the team has some flaws - mainly, they lack the depth that UVA has shown and also have just one dependable three-point option.

This week: Tuesday vs. Georgia Tech. Sunday @ Florida State

5. Pittsburgh

After the top 4 teams in the ACC, who should all appear above the 5-line in the Big Dance, there's a pretty gigantic drop-off. I can't really figure out who to move ahead of Pittsburgh into this spot...but yeesh. Pitt's overtime home win over Notre Dame looked like it had staved off their slow drift toward the bubble, but then they let TJ Warren absolutely go off on them. Previously, they had a good argument, that they had only lost a bunch of close games to the ACC's top 4. But now, that game against Clemson looms pretty large.

This week: Saturday @ Clemson.

6. Maryland

I'm probably overranking Maryland a bit, but they're also getting credit for some near-misses. They lost on the road at Clemson in double-OT this weekend, to cap a rough stretch in which they also played UVA, Duke, and Syracuse down to the final minutes as well. Unlike Clemson and Florida State, they lack recent bad losses. And they've started to clock as a very good defensive team, keeping their last 4 opponents, Duke/Wake/Syracuse/Clemson, from surpassing 1 PPP. UVA's finale in the Comcast Center will be far from a cake walk.

This week: Tuesday vs. Virginia Tech. Sunday vs. Virginia.

7. Florida State

The Noles remain the ACC's best shot at a 6th NCAA berth...but it's on pretty shaky grounds. FSU is 2-6 against teams in KenPom's top 40 (wins vs. VCU (N) and @ Pitt), and has a middling 8-8 conference record so far. But they've played a tough schedule in and out of conference, and their RPI is within striking range. They definitely need to avoid a letdown at Boston College this week and probably need a win vs. Syracuse to make the Big Dance.

This week: Tuesday @ Boston College. Sunday vs. Syracuse

8. Clemson

If Clemson had any designs on an at-large berth, they went out the window after the team's 62-57 loss at Wake Forest. As has been the case all season, Clemson's defense is good...but not nearly good enough to overcome its woeful offense. It's a shame, because KJ McDaniels is great. But the Tigers shoot worse than every team except VT and turn the ball over more than every team except FSU, and that's the recipe to lose some bad ones.

This week: Tuesday vs. Miami. Saturday vs. Pittsburgh.

9. NC State

NC State probably played themselves out of any bubble contention when they lost 4 of 5 games, but then they came back and beat Pitt on the road behind 41 points from TJ Warren. The problem is that the team is more interested in watching Warren shoot than scoring themselves and is especially not fond of playing defense (they just allowed 1.39 PPP at home to Miami, yeech).. but that's still good enough sometimes.

This week: Sunday vs. Boston College

10. Miami

Yes, they are responsible for both of Virginia Tech's wins, and we can be annoyed at them for that. But, after a slew of near-misses, Miami has taken care of business recently, winning 5 of its last 7 games. Despite a lack of offensive weapons, Coach Larranaga adapted his defense to compensate for a lack of overall talent, and found Rion Brown as a legitimate offensive weapon. One issue is that the Hurricanes aren't quite as young and inexperienced as announcers make them out to be. The team starts 3 seniors and ranks 1st in the ACC in experience, as calculated by KenPom.

This week: Tuesday @ Clemson. Saturday vs. Wake Forest.

11. Notre Dame

Speaking of poor defense, there's Notre Dame, who has held just 1 opponent under 1 PPP during ACC play this season (Clemson, at home, barely). They're nearing BC-like levels of incompetence. On the other hand, the only thing that's holding them back from being an excellent offense is their inability to get to the FT line - their .30 FTA/FGA is 345th in the country, which is especially bad for a team that isn't especially reliant on jump shots. Once again: How in the world did these guys beat Duke? Their other wins this year are VT, BC, BC, GT, and Clemson in OT, and they did nothing notable during the OOC either.

This week: N/A (Notre Dame's done until the ACC tourney)

12. Georgia Tech

Daniel Miller has been Georgia Tech's most reliable offensive weapon, making 59% of his 2s and getting to the FT line at a respectable rate as well. But he has 8 teammates who take shots at a higher rate than he does, which confuses me, But yeah, as I say here every week, GT isn't very good and they should fire Brian Gregory.

This week: Tuesday @ Syracuse. Saturday vs. Virginia Tech.

13. Boston College

BC followed their first road win of the season, at Syracuse, with 2 stinkers, then another road win, at Wake Forest. Their huge gulf between offensive efficiency and defensive efficiency continues to widen, but Northwestern, who is great at defense but miserable at offense, still has them beat.

This week: Wednesday vs. Pittsburgh. Saturday @ Wake Forest.

14. Wake Forest

Didn't Wake Forest know that their game this weekend was for the #13 spot in these power rankings?! After finally snapping their 7 game skid with a home win over Clemson, Wake's collapsing defense couldn't keep them in the game versus Boston College. At least the Jeff Bzdelik farewell tour has almost, mercifully, come to a close.

This week: Tuesday vs. Duke. Saturday @ Miami.

15. Virginia Tech

The Hokies have shown some signs of life recently? They finished 1-8 at home, but 6 of those games were in the single digits. So that's something. But really, they should just be glad that Miami exists. The good news for Hokies fans is that VT should climb out of the basement next season, or something's gone horribly wrong.

This week: Tuesday @ Maryland. Saturday @ Georgia Tech.