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ACC Power Rankings: Week of 1/19/15

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Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Virginia took care of business once again to remain atop our power rankings, while the rest of the ACC continued to beat up on itself.  Duke lost to Miami at home, then beat Louisville, who beat UNC, who beat NC State, who beat Duke too. Then there's Notre Dame too, who has lost just once since November, to the best team in the land. Let it be noted that "Tier 2" is a logjam.

Here are our power rankings after 2 weeks of ACC play. Let us know how you'd rank the conference.

Team Record (ACC) STL Ranking Last week KenPom Rank RPI Rank (ESPN)
Virginia 17-0 (5-0) 1 1 2 2
Duke 15-2 (3-2) 2 2 9 8
Notre Dame 17-2 (5-1) 3 5 16 40
North Carolina 14-4 (4-1) 4 4 8 10
Louisville 15-3 (3-2) 5 3 11 29
Miami 12-5 (2-2) 6 7 48 50
NC State 13-6 (4-2) 7 6 42 37
Syracuse 13-5 (4-1) 8 8 53 49
Clemson 10-7 (2-3) 9 9 104 74
Pittsburgh 13-5 (3-2) 10 10 89 66
Wake Forest 9-9 (1-4) 11 11 158 127
Boston College 8-8 (0-4) 12 13 170 126
Georgia Tech 9-8 (0-5) 13 12 157 73
Florida State 9-9 (1-4) 14 14 169 145
Virginia Tech 8-9 (0-4) 15 15 155 215

Note: Standings include Sunday's UNC win over VT; rankings are other stats are effective before

Games of the Week:

Mid-week: Thursday: NC State @ Miami

Weekend: Sunday: NC State vs. Notre Dame

Tier 1:

1. Virginia

Not losing any games is a sure-fire way to remain on top of the Power Rankings, and win win win, no matter what, is all Virginia does.

The Hoos took care of business against pesky Clemson and pesky Boston College this week, and have two more games against "lower tier teams" GT and VT this week, who are sure to prove pesky as well. (That's the downside of a #2 ranking.)  UVA still ranks in the top 5 in both offense and defense in Pomeroy's rankings, along with Kentucky and now Villanova.

This week: Thursday vs. Georgia Tech. Sunday @ Virginia Tech.

Tier 2:

2. Duke

Duke remains at #2, mostly by default - who would you have jumping the Blue Devils? Duke was dominated at home by Miami, its defense allowing 1.22 PPP, before rebounding against Louisville for an impressive road win.  The Blue Devil offense has been slumping, averaging .99 PPP in its last 4 games, and now ranks 6th in efficiency in ACC play; but in its two wins, the defense has stepped up to counteract that.  If Duke is going to succeed this season, this formula isn't sustainable. By keeping them second, I'm guessing the team won't continue to shoot under 30% on 3s, like they did these past 3 games.

This week: Monday vs. Pittsburgh. Sunday @ St. John's.

3. Notre Dame

The Irish defense has taken on its fair share of criticism, but (as commenter fphjr2001 pointed out last week), having the nation's best offense probably makes up for that. He explained, "Basically what I'm saying is ND's offense is good enough that on most nights their defense doesn't really matter. [...] The other reason I'd bump them up to 3 is that I think ND is less likely to slump than UNC and/or Louisville. Jerian Grant was completely shut down [against UVA] and the outcome was still in doubt at the 4 minute mark to go in the game. Any one of several players can go off."

The Irish have just two losses this year, against Providence in November and UVA, with a statement win at North Carolina, and a fairly forgiving ACC schedule ahead (save two games with Duke).  They have a shot to be Virginia's closest competition in the ACC race.

This week: Thursday @ Virginia Tech. Sunday @ NC State.

4. North Carolina

It's been a fun start to ACC play for UNC, who played in 3 thrillers (a 1 point loss, a 1 point win, and a 2 point win) before taking care of business against Virginia Tech. Marcus Paige was Marcus Paige against in Raleigh, drilling all 5 of his three-point attempts, and rendering the "who will score when Paige doesn't?" debate moot.

This week: Wednesday @ Wake Forest. Saturday vs. Florida State.

5. Louisville

Louisville's home loss to Duke, when the score was never in doubt, is starting to sound alarm bells. The Cardinals' three losses may be "good" ones (vs. Kentucky, @ UNC, vs. Duke), but there isn't much more to the schedule after that. The team's best wins are a home one over Ohio State and the season-opener against Minnesota.  In their 3 losses, the defense did its job, holding three elite offenses to an average of 1.04 PPP, but the team just didn't make shots of its own, including 4-25 three-point shooting vs. Duke.

This week: Sunday @ Pitt.

Tier 3:

6. Miami

The Miami that lost to Eastern Kentucky by 28 seems like one from ages ago (actually exactly one month).  Angel Rodriguez, the ACC's most efficient high-usage (over 28% of possessions), is basically willing the team to compete, and it's working.  He pushed Virginia to double-overtime and took down Duke, but his cold shooting against the Irish kept the Hurricanes from another road upset.

This week: Thursday v. NC State. Saturday @ Syracuse.

7. NC State

The Wolfpack came just inches away from forcing overtime in a thriller against UNC.  The loss of TJ Warren has forced NC State to become both more balanced and play much better defense, and that combo has been a successful one for Mark Gottfried's team. They've beaten Duke and competed tough against UNC and at Virginia. NC State's top-40 RPI and big wins mean they are a good bet to be sneaking into the tourney come March.

Also, their schedule seems absurdly front-loaded, and they play two more tough ones this week.

This week: Thursday @ Miami. Sunday vs. Notre Dame.

8. Syracuse

The Orange finally dropped from the ACC's undefeated rankings, barely competing at Clemson.  Cuse's offense ranks 12th in the conference, with .99 PPP during ACC play, despite playing the ACC's softest schedule. They've made 39% of their 2s despite strong work from Rakeem Christmas, who has made 41/76 (54%).  Considering his high-usage, that's especially damning for his teammates (Trevor Cooney is 6/24 on 2s, for example).

This week: Tuesday vs. Boston College. Saturday vs. Miami.


Tier 4:

9. Clemson

Clemson's 3 quick ACC losses were all "acceptable" ones, and they rebounded nicely with a complete win over Syracuse. They still rank in the bottom half of the conference in defense and one of the worst in offense, but have played the ACC's second toughest conference schedule; their defense could have a chance to shine against the slate ahead.

This week: Monday vs. Florida State. Saturday v. Wake Forest.

10. Pittsburgh

Coming off a 2-0 week, Pitt moved to above .500 in conference play. 13-5 (3-2) sounds pretty impressive!  The bad news: Georgia Tech is the second highest-ranked team (#93 on KenPom) that Pitt has beaten all year, after #83 Kansas State back in November. They may be in for a rude awakening this week,

This week: Monday @ Duke. Sunday vs. Louisville.

Tier 5:

11. Wake Forest

Wake has gotten lots of respect for their close losses to Duke, Louisville, and now Syracuse, but the result is a 1-4 ACC record.  Are Demon Deacon fans worried about how much this resembles the Bzdelik era already, which consisted of a couple surprising home wins and road futility?

This week: Wednesday vs. UNC. Saturday @ Clemson.

12. Boston College

The Eagles snapped a long, embarrassing losing streak against Harvard, beating the Crimson in overtime for their first win against their Ivy League rivals since 2003.  BC, at 0-4 in the ACC, is squandering a year where they rank 7th in the nation in experience on KenPom at 2.4 years (and 17th in effective height too!). The conference's second most-experienced team, Notre Dame, is 156th in the nation at 1.7 years. Experience is important, but not moreso than talent, and that's why Steve Donahue no longer roams the sidelines.

This week: Tuesday @ Syracuse. Sunday @ Georgia Tech.

13. Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech's #93 KenPom ranking, despite their 9-8 (0-5 ACC) record, stems from their run of close losses. Two of those came to Notre Dame, who won in double overtime then by 3 in the rematch this week. The Yellow Jackets' 26% three-point shooting (in relatively few attempts) should make Wahoo fans feel better this week.

This week: Thursday @ UVA. Sunday vs. Boston College.

14. Florida State

The Seminoles continued their slide with two more ACC losses to fall to 1-4 in-conference on the year.  Leonard Hamilton hasn't gone below .500 in the ACC since 2008, a time when a 7-9 record was often good enough for a tournament berth.

This week: Tuesday @ Clemson. Saturday at UNC.

15. Virginia Tech

KenPom gives the Hokies a 1.6% chance of going winless in the ACC this season. I don't know about you guys, but I believe in miracles. Let it be so! (If they do win, it probably won't be this week.)

This week: Thursday vs. Notre Dame. Sunday vs. Virginia.