Here are Streaking the Lawn's preseason ACC basketball POWER rankings! First, a few notes:
- The Virginia Cavaliers took the top spot with 8 first-place votes to UNC's 4 and Duke's 2. However, all 14 of us agreed that UVA, UNC, and Duke should be ranked 1 through 3 in some order, and should be followed by either Miami or Notre Dame at #4.
- Virginia also had the lowest standard deviation in ranking position among the 15 ACC teams, with just one now-dead-to-us staff member voting the Hoos third. The highest standard deviation team was Florida State, followed by Louisville. The middle of the conference is, as usual, difficult to rank. I divided teams up into "tiers" to help account for that.
- Still, we didn't see as much variation as I would have expected from a preseason ranking. The recent release of Ken Pomeroy's data polluting our minds may be to blame?
- The full list of votes by individual follows the rankings. Disgruntled fans, be sure to direct your ire toward the correct people.
Tier 1: ACC Elite
1. Virginia - If you're reading this, you're likely familiar with the Wahoo roster, led by likely all-ACC picks Malcolm Brogdon and Anthony Gill. The team has to replace Justin Anderson, but the experience on the roster and its demonstrated strength in executing the Packline defense make the Hoos our pick to stay atop the ACC again.
2. North Carolina - Because of the amount of talent UNC has returning, the Tar Heels are another "sure bet." Marcus Paige is back for his senior campaign, where he'll once again have Brice Johnson and Kennedy Meeks alongside him. The growth of Paige's supporting cast is ultimately what carried UNC last season, and they should be ready to improve on last year's 11-7 conference record.
3. Duke - The Blue Devils are a stark contrast to UVA and UNC's reliance on the experience of returning players. Amile Jefferson and Matt Jones are the only returners who played more than 50% of minutes last season. Rather, they'll make us learn new names like "Brandon Ingram" and "Chase Jeter" and "Derryck Thornton," and quickly figure out why they are the worst.
Tier 2: Challengers
4. Miami - Jim Larranaga's team showed flashes of great potential last year. They beat Duke by double-digits at Cameron Indoor, took UVA to double OT, and were a basket away from an NIT Championship. They also lost to Eastern Kentucky, Green Bay, Georgia Tech, and Florida State at home. They return virtually everyone, including a pair of fifth-year seniors in Angel Rodriguez and Sheldon McClellan, and add OSU transfer Kamari Murphy.
5. Notre Dame - With Jerian Grant and Pat Connaughton moving on, the Irish won't put up video game offensive stats again. But they still have enough to be solidly in the upper-half of the conference, especially if they don't put up video game (like NBA Jam) defensive stats as well.
Tier 3: Dark horses
6. Louisville - This is where things start getting murkier, as spots 6-10 were tightly contested. Louisville loses a lot, but they do add two fifth-year transfers - Drexel's best player and Cleveland State's best player. Man, they sure seem to have lots of success in recruiting, don't they?
7. Florida State - Leonard Hamilton's squad had one of the worst offenses in the ACC last season, as they relied on a freshman, Xavier Rathan-Mayes, to do basically everything. Now, they add two more top-50 recruits. The Noles will surely be competitive this season, but may still be a year or two away from making noise.
Tier 4: The bubble?
8 - Syracuse - The Orange have a relatively high floor, because Jim Boeheim teams are always difficult to score on. But they are deplete of returning scoring options outside of Michael Gbinije. A strong recruiting class will allow the Orange to reload.
9 - NC State - Mark Gottfried has somehow yet to miss the NCAA Tourney in his 4 years in Raleigh. Each season, the Pack has ranked in the top 40 in offensive efficiency, but below 75 in defense. They lose Trevor Lacey, who left to play in Europe, but I expect a decent offense, a poor defense, and another weird bubble year.
10 - Pittsburgh - Pitt's wild offseason makes their roster hard to keep track of. They had players transfer out, graduate/JUCO players transfer in, recruits decommit, you name it. Suffice it to say that the Panthers are an unknown (to me, at least). They play another rough non-conference schedule outside of their opener against Gonzaga, so look for a sterling record through December.
Tier 5: The basement
11 - Wake Forest - Wake hasn't won more than 6 conference games since they fired Dino Gaudio in 2010. Codi Miller-McIntyre is a bit of an unknown after a foot injury, but the Demon Deacons should be at least somewhat more competitive.
12 - Clemson - Clemson will play slow. They'll be decent at defense. They won't be able to score. This is what has happened basically every time Brad Brownell has coached a basketball team.
13 - Georgia Tech - The Yellow Jackets were somehow 3-15 in the ACC last season, but that includes 3 overtime losses and 5 other losses by one basket. With Marcus Georges-Hunt and Charles Mitchell both in their senior years, it'd be hard for them not to improve. They also add VT transfer Adam Smith, remember him?
Tier 6: Deep in the basement
14- Virginia Tech - We may be underrating the Hokies just because they are the Hokies. Remember, they get Maryland transfer Seth Allen, who has now had to spend his college years split between College Park and Blacksburg, which seems awful. However, they did allow an absurd 1.16 PPP during conference games last year - not very Buzz Williams-like. The roster needs some more time.
15- Boston College - After finishing 4-14 in the ACC last season, BC loses basically everyone, including Olivier Hanlan, who left for greener pastures in Lithuania. They bring in a large recruiting class...that 24/7 ranks 12th in the conference. Struggle city.
|1||Virginia||North Carolina||Virginia||North Carolina||Virginia||Virginia||Duke||Duke||Virginia||Virginia||North Carolina||Virginia||North Carolina||Virginia|
|2||North Carolina||Virginia||Duke||Virginia||North Carolina||North Carolina||Virginia||North Carolina||North Carolina||North Carolina||Virginia||North Carolina||Virginia||Duke|
|3||Duke||Duke||North Carolina||Duke||Duke||Duke||North Carolina||Virginia||Duke||Duke||Duke||Duke||Duke||Miami|
|4||Miami||Notre Dame||Miami||Notre Dame||Miami||Notre Dame||Notre Dame||Miami||Miami||Miami||Notre Dame||Notre Dame||Notre Dame||North Carolina|
|5||Florida State||Florida State||Notre Dame||Miami||Notre Dame||Louisville||Miami||Louisville||Florida State||Florida State||Louisville||Miami||Miami||Notre Dame|
|6||Notre Dame||Miami||Louisville||Florida State||Syracuse||Miami||Louisville||Notre Dame||Notre Dame||Louisville||Miami||Louisville||Louisville||Florida State|
|7||NC State||Louisville||Florida State||Louisville||Florida State||Pittsburgh||Pittsburgh||Florida State||Pittsburgh||Notre Dame||NC State||NC State||Florida State||Louisville|
|8||Louisville||NC State||Pittsburgh||Syracuse||NC State||Syracuse||Syracuse||NC State||Syracuse||Pittsburgh||Florida State||Syracuse||Pittsburgh||Syracuse|
|9||Syracuse||Syracuse||Syracuse||Pittsburgh||Louisville||Florida State||Florida State||Syracuse||Louisville||NC State||Syracuse||Florida State||NC State||NC State|
|10||Pittsburgh||Pittsburgh||NC State||NC State||Pittsburgh||NC State||NC State||Pittsburgh||NC State||Wake Forest||Pittsburgh||Pittsburgh||Syracuse||Pittsburgh|
|11||Clemson||Clemson||Clemson||Clemson||Georgia Tech||Clemson||Clemson||Wake Forest||Clemson||Syracuse||Wake Forest||Wake Forest||Wake Forest||Georgia Tech|
|12||Wake Forest||Wake Forest||Georgia Tech||Wake Forest||Virginia Tech||Wake Forest||Wake Forest||Boston College||Wake Forest||Clemson||Clemson||Clemson||Clemson||Wake Forest|
|13||Georgia Tech||Boston College||Wake Forest||Georgia Tech||Wake Forest||Georgia Tech||Georgia Tech||Georgia Tech||Virginia Tech||Virginia Tech||Virginia Tech||Georgia Tech||Georgia Tech||Virginai Tech|
|14||Virginia Tech||Georgia Tech||Virginia Tech||Virginia Tech||Clemson||Boston College||Virginia Tech||Clemson||Georgia Tech||Georgia Tech||Georgia Tech||Virginia Tech||Boston College||Clemson|
|15||Boston College||Virginia Tech||Boston College||Boston College||Boston College||Virginia Tech||Boston College||Virginia Tech||Boston College||Boston College||Boston College||Boston College||Virginia Tech||Boston College|