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ACC Power Rankings - as of 1/15/16

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Two weeks into ACC play, here's my take on how the conference stacks up:

Team Record (ACC) STL Ranking Preseason STL Rank KenPom Rank RPI Rank (ESPN)
North Carolina 15-2 (4-0) 1 2 7 5
Virginia 13-3 (2-2) 2 1 6 7
Duke 14-3 (3-1) 3 3 12 12
Miami 13-2 (2-1) 4 4 10 16
Louisville 14-3 (3-1) 5 6 6 20
Pittsburgh 14-2 (3-1) 6 10 32 22
Notre Dame 11-5 (2-2) 7 5 29 44
Clemson 11-6 (4-1) 8 12 76 102
Georgia Tech 11-6 (1-3) 9 13 52 42
Florida State 11-5 (1-3) 10 7 42 69
Syracuse 11-7 (1-4) 11 8 67 76
Virginia Tech 11-6 (3-1) 12 14 130 111
Wake Forest 10-6 (1-3) 13 11 101 61
NC State 10-7 (0-4) 14 9 85 113
Boston College 6-9 (0-3) 15 15 226 205

Note: All rankings (except for Louisville and Pittsburgh's) are before Thursday's games.

Games of the Week:

This weekend:  Notre Dame @ Duke

Next week:  Clemson @ Virginia

(No, it's not a particularly big week for the ACC. The above are the only matchups between two teams ranked in the top 9 of these rankings).

Tier 1:

1. North Carolina (Last Week:  W vs. Syracuse.  Next: Saturday vs. NCSU, Wednesday vs. Wake Forest)

Just two weeks into ACC play, UNC is the sole unbeaten; they haven't even really been threatened. Their offense is the nation's most efficient. And they, strangely, do it by taking more two-point jumpers than any team in the NCAA...and making them at a clip far higher than any other team too.  Just under half of Brice Johnson's shots are mid-range jumpers, for example, and he makes 66% of them.

2. Virginia (Last Week:  L @ GT, W vs. Miami.  Next: Sunday @ FSU, Tuesday vs. Clemson)

After two rough road games, UVA returned home and took care of #8 Miami. For all the panic about Virginia's shaky ACC start, the Hoos have two wins against the top half of the conference, and more great wins overall (including against KenPom #1, #5, and #10) than any team in the nation.

3. Duke (Last Week:  W vs. VT, L @ Clemson.  Next: Saturday vs. ND, Monday vs. Syracuse)

Duke lost this week, so that's fun. Much of the post-game focus was on Clemson's late three-point shooting, but Duke really lost this game by scoring just a point per possession. The culprits: turning the ball over on 21% of possessions and only pulling in 4 only offensive rebounds; these are usually categories that the Blue Devils excel in. Virginia isn't the only team to lose road games by playing uncharacteristically sloppily and getting beaten on the boards.

4. Miami (Last Week:  W vs. FSU, L vs. Virginia.  Next: Saturday @ Clemson, Wednesday @ BC)

Besides their bizarre home loss to Northeastern, Miami had been on a tear all year, winning all but one game by double-digits. Then they came to Charlottesville.  Miami's defense is one of just two in the ACC to be ranked in the top-40 in the nation, along with Louisville, as the ACC has suddenly turned into one of the nation's most efficient scoring conferences.

5. Louisville (Last Week: L @ Clemson, W vs. Pittsburgh.  Next: Wednesday vs. Florida State)

Louisville wasn't onboard with the ACC's sudden move away from defense. They feature the nation's top-ranked defense and just held Pitt, who still ranks as the nation's #2 offense, to 41 points in a 65 possession game. Though their weak out-of-conference schedule makes the Cardinals a bit of an unknown (best OOC win was over "Grand Canyon"), the computers are fans because of the way they dominated that slate.

Tier 2:

6. Pittsburgh (Last Week: W @ Notre Dame, L @ Louisville.  Next: Saturday vs. Boston College, Tuesday vs. NC State)

Pitt is 14-2, but they played an even more embarrassing out-of-conference schedule than Louisville did, playing no games on the road and failing to beat a KenPom top-100 team. Was their previously-elite offense's weak outing at the Yum! Center a blip? Or the result of playing "big-boy" defenses?

7. Notre Dame (Last Week: L vs. Pittsburgh, W vs. GT.  Next: Saturday @ Duke, Wednesday vs. VT)

For the second year in a row, Mike Brey has a top-three offense but an awful defense.  The Irish scored 1.31 PPP against Pitt, their second-best offensive output of the season and by far the Panthers' worst defensive game; but they still lost by allowing Pitt to score 1.38 PPP. Demetrius Jackson has helped make up for the loss of Jerian Grant, absorbing most of his shots, and making 54% of his 2s and 40% of his 3s.

Tier 3:

8. Clemson (Last Week: W vs. Louisville, W vs. Duke.  Next: vs. Miami, @ Virginia)

Clemson's start to ACC play is as amazing as it is confusing. Clemson played 12 OOC games, losing all five that they played against teams in the KenPom top-200. Their best win was a home victory over Texas Southern. Now, they're 4-1 in ACC play with wins over Louisville, Duke, FSU, and a road game in Syracuse. Overcoming their brutal out-of-conference to make the tournament will be an uphill battle, but they're off to a good start.

9. Georgia Tech (Last Week: W vs. Virginia, L @ Notre Dame.  Next: Saturday @ Virginia Tech)

Last season, GT was 3-16 (including the ACC Tournament) in ACC play, but 13 of their losses were by single-digits (including 3 in OT and 7 by one basket). This year, they are 1-3, beating Virginia but losing 3 tough road games by single-digits.  Basically, they are the anti-Maryland.

10. Florida State (Last Week: L @ Miami, W @ NC State.  Next: Sunday vs. Virginia, Wednesday @ Louisville)

Virginia's next opponent, FSU is the conference's tallest team, and one of the tallest in the nation (#10-rated by KenPom in "Effective height"). But it's the (relatively) shorter Xavier Rathan-Mayes and freshman Dwayne Bacon who conduct most of Florida State's offense. Bacon takes a higher percentage of shots when he is on the floor than everyone in the ACC except for BC's Eli Carter.

Tier 4:

11. Syracuse (Last Week: L vs. North Carolina, W vs. Boston College.  Next: Saturday @ Wake Forest, Monday @ Duke)

This year's edition of the Orange features Jim Boeheim's worst defense (55th on KenPom) since 2008, which was also the last time Cuse was eligible for the postseason but failed to qualify for the Big Dance. They've sputtered on both sides of the ball in their 1-4 ACC start, with their lone win against hapless BC, and they start a three-game road trip this weekend (followed by a four game home-stand, part of a bizarre schedule that features zero one-game home/road turnarounds).

12. Virginia Tech (Last Week: L @ Duke, W vs. Wake Forest.  Next: Saturday @ GT, Wednesday @ Notre Dame)

Buzz Williams has VT playing their best basketball since the departure of Seth Greenberg, as the Hokies are out to a 3-1 start, though all 3 wins were nailbiters. The main difference between this season and last is that VT's defensive went from godawful to middle-of-the-pack. Zach LeDay has added an actual interior presence and Seth Allen is a defensive upgrade from Adam Smith at guard.

13. Wake Forest (Last Week: W vs. NC State, L @ VT.  Next: Saturday vs. Syracuse, Wednesday @ UNC)

Wake's also more competitive than they've been in a while. Devin Thomas has taken a big step forward and turned himself into one of the conference's more dangerous big men, making 59% of his shots inside and trailing only Marshall Plumlee in FT Rate.

14. NC State (Last Week: L @ Wake Forest, L vs. Florida State.  Next: Saturday @ UNC, Tuesday @ Pitt)

NC State followed up a fairly decent out-of-conference by dropping their first 4 ACC games, and have a pretty serious shot at extending that. The Pack have road games at UNC and Pitt, then take on Duke.  Their offense is excellent at taking care of the ball (#18 in the nation), they offensive rebound well (#13), and they get to the FT line (#45). But they are by far the conference's worst at actually putting the ball in the basket, which is important in basketball.

Tier 5:

15. Boston College (Last Week: L @ Syracuse.  Next: Saturday @ Pittsburgh, Wednesday vs. Miami)

I considered leaving BC out of these rankings, but they are technically an ACC team. KenPom gives the Eagles an 11% chance of finishing the conference season winless.