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ACC Power Rankings: Week of 1/5/15

Your weekly ACC POWER rankings are back!

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Virginia Cavaliers top our first ACC power rankings of 2015, with undefeated Duke and one-loss Louisville right on their tails.

Agree? Feel free to drop your praise in the comments. Disagree? I guess you could let me know as well.

Team Record (ACC) STL Ranking STL Preseason Rank KenPom Rank RPI Rank (ESPN)
Virginia 13-0 (1-0) 1 2 2 3
Duke 13-0 (1-0) 2 1 3 5
Louisville 13-1 (1-0) 3 3 6 30
North Carolina 11-3 (1-0) 4 4 8 19
Notre Dame 14-1 (2-0) 5 8 21 58
Syracuse 10-4 (1-0) 6 5 39 62
NC State 11-4 (2-0) 7 9 58 54
Miami 10-4 (0-1) 8 10 73 97
Pittsburgh 10-4 (0-1) 9 6 68 68
Georgia Tech 9-4 (0-1) 10 12 82 27
Florida State 8-6 (0-1) 11 7 133 170
Boston College 7-5 (0-1) 12 13 130 131
Clemson 8-5 (0-1) 13 11 142 135
Wake Forest 8-7 (0-1) 14 14 122 158
Virginia Tech 8-6 (0-1) 15 15 178 245

(Note - KenPom and RPI #s do not include Sunday's games, including Louisville's win over Wake Forest)

Games of the Week:

Mid-week: Monday: Notre Dame @ UNC

Weekend: Saturday: Louisville @ UNC (and Virginia @ Notre Dame)

Tier 1: Elite

1. Virginia

With a dramatic double-OT win over Miami, Virginia clung to the top spot in our inaugural rankings of the ACC season.  The team's key has been balance. The Wahoo defense is what gets all the attention, and rightfully so, it's ranked 4th in the nation by KenPom. But the team's offense is also ranked 4th.  It was the offense that allowed UVA to take down Davidson and Miami, both of whom scored over a point per possession.  The Hoos have two players in ESPN's 5-man "Wooden Watch," and neither of them is preseason all-ACC first-teamer Malcolm Brogdon.

This week: Wednesday vs. NC State. Saturday @ Notre Dame.

2. Duke

Last season, Duke had one of the best offenses in the nation, but a mediocre defense held it back. This year, the offense is once again one of the country's best, led by the scary-good Jahlil Okafor, who is shooting 68% from the field...and the defense is solid as well (#16 in KenPom).  The result? The Blue Devils have won all of their games this season by double-digits, including a statement road win at Wisconsin.

This week: Wednesday @ Wake Forest. Sunday @ NC State.

3. Louisville

No, Louisville couldn't pull off the upset over Kentucky, and for that America is not happy with you, Louisville. The Cardinal offense has shown some cracks, as they failed to reach a point-per-possession in 4 of their last 5 non-conference games. But their second-ranked defense (though it did show weakness at Wake Forest) led by pesky and aggressive guards Terry Rozier and Chris Jones, could keep them in every game this season and in the "elite" tier of these rankings.

This week: Wednesday vs. Clemson. Saturday @ North Carolina.

Tier 2: Very Good

4. North Carolina

UNC has 11 wins, all of them in dominant fashion.  But the Tar Heels have once again shown the inconsistency that dogged them last season.  For them to contend in ACC play, Marcus Paige will need to up his play (he's making just 38% of his 2s).  When he struggles, the team does as well - in UNC's losses to Butler and Iowa, Paige shot 3 of 11 on 2s and 6 of 22 on 3s.

The Heels have a chance to make an early statement this week with two big-time matchups at home.

This week: Monday vs. Notre Dame. Saturday vs. Louisville

5. Notre Dame

The return of Jerian Grant, who hasn't gotten nearly as much attention as he deserves, has powered ND's second-ranked offense. Of the 10 Irish players who play more than 10% of the team's minutes, 9 convert their two-pointers at a rate over 60% (the other is Pat Connaughton, who makes 57% of his 2s, but shoots 45% from behind the arc, so we'll give him a break).

When the nation's best two-point offense faces the third-ranked two-point defense Saturday, something's gotta give.

This week: Monday @ North Carolina. Wednesday vs. Virginia.

Tier 3: ???

6. Syracuse

There's a big gap between Syracuse and Notre Dame.  The Orange are 2-4 against KenPom's top 100, with the wins by a combined 5 points. Against Virginia Tech, Cuse almost blew a 19-point halftime lead (sound familiar?), but held on to win by 2 in Blacksburg. A win is a win...but we're still uncertain whether Syracuse is a contender or a pretender.

This week: Wednesday @ Georgia Tech. Sunday @ Florida State.

7. NC State

The Wolfpack are off to a quick 2-0 ACC start, but their next 3 games are against teams in KenPom's top 10.  NC State has lost six consecutive regular season games to Virginia.

This week: Wednesday @ Virginia. Sunday vs. Duke.

8. Miami

Miami is yet another schizophrenic team in this tier. The Canes won at Florida, part of their 8-game season-opening winning stream. They then lost 4 of their next 6, 3 at home. That includes both an embarrassing 28 point home loss to Eastern Kentucky, and an impressive but fruitless double OT loss against Virginia.  Look out for a couple upset wins and some questionable losses during the ACC season.

This week: Saturday vs. Boston College

9. Pittsburgh

Pitt's 10-4 record is a bit misleading, as they have yet to defeat a team in KenPom's top 100, and their three attempts were double-digit losses.  They played no true road games during the non-conference. The Selection Committee won't look favorably upon that, so they'll need to impress during a back-loaded ACC schedule.

This week: Tuesday @ Boston College. Saturday vs. Clemson.

10. Georgia Tech

There were two double-overtime matchups in the ACC this weekend, and one of them was GT's near-takedown of Notre Dame.  The Yellow Jackets were 9-3 during a respectable non-conference schedule, and their top-30 RPI (yes, RPI is stupid) makes them a dark-horse NCAA Tournament team if they can keep rolling during conference play.  They are arguably the conference's best rebounding team (9th in Off. Reb% and 4th in Def. Reb%).

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

Tier 4: The basement

11. Florida State

The Noles looked like the conference's biggest disappointment, but showed some signs of life with a win over Florida last week (though it took some help from the Gators). Without Ian Miller and Okaro White, FSU just haven't figured out a way to get anything going on offense, and don't have nearly the defense to make up for that. They've still got some tree trunks down low (three players over 7 foot tall), but their three-point shooting is some of the worst in the nation.

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

12. Boston College

The Jim Christian era isn't off to the worst start, despite the team's middling 7-5 record.  His defense is better than that of any of Steve Donahue's squads, and he doesn't have much to work with on offense with the loss of Ryan Anderson. Oliver Hanlan was expected to lead the Eagle's offense, but he's hurt them with 21% three-point shooting, including a combined 3 for 25 from behind the arc during the team's 5 losses.

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

13. Clemson

Imagine last year's Tigers team without do-everything forward KJ McDaniels. You now have this year's Clemson team, and that's kinda sad.

This week: Wednesday @ Louisville. Saturday @ Pittsburgh.

14. Wake Forest

Danny Manning has Wake Forest playing solid defense, driven by the nation's second-best defensive rebounding unit. But like most of the conference's new coaches the cupboard is pretty bare. Wake doesn't make shots and they turn the ball over often; the result is the ACC's worst offense.

Can the Demon Deacons replicate some of their home-court magic that Jeff Bzdelik seemed able to conjure this week against Duke?  They came close against the Cardinals last night.

This week: Wednesday vs. Duke. Saturday vs. Georgia Tech.

15. Virginia Tech

I have no idea how the same Hokie team that lost Appalachian State and Radford at home had a shot at Syracuse at Cassel. But that's the ACC for you.  Still, the Hokies' best win is either at home against #227 UM-ES or at a neutral site against #278 Miami of Ohio, so we can still continue laugh at those jokers.

They start a brutal five-game stretch this week when they play 3 consecutive road games, and 4 games in a row against teams in KenPom's top-25. Good luck, Hokies.

This week: Tuesday @ Florida State.