With just three games separating us from UVA basketball, here is your Streaking the Lawn staff’s preseason ACC Power Rankings.
Rankings were based on averaging across the ballots of 14 staff members. Scroll to the bottom for full rankings from each writer as well as overall means and standard deviations for each team.
1. Duke Blue Devils (KenPom #1)
Last year: 25-11, 11-7 ACC. Made Sweet 16.
I hate that I have to type this, but Duke is going to be scary good this season and is very likely to win the ACC regular season. Greyson Allen will travel one more season with the team, where he’ll be joined by the nation’s best recruiting class. The Blue Devils were dogged last season by a porous defense - one of the worst of Coach K’s career - but the return of Amile Jefferson will make an impact, as will two five star recruits, Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, measuring in at 6’ 10".
2. Virginia Cavaliers (KenPom #7)
Last year: 29-8, 13-5 ACC.
The STL staff was slightly more optimistic than the media, which placed UVA at #3 in the ACC. The consistency of various rankings and preseason polls that have the Hoos somewhere around #7 or #8 in the nation is impressive; considering the pieces the team is losing, I figured that UVA would be good but a higher-variance pick. It’s a testament to Tony Bennett’s system and his recruiting that we’re expecting another fun year in Charlottesville.
3. North Carolina Tar Heels (KenPom #5)
Last year: 33-7, 14-4 ACC. Made Championship Game.
Like Virginia, UNC will also lose some key pieces - namely Brice Johnson and Marcus Paige - but quickly reload and have plenty of returning talent. They’ve got a top-ten class coming in to add to a nucleus highlighted by Justin Jackson and Joel Berry. It’ll be a battle at the top of the conference.
4. Syracuse Orange (KenPom #12)
Last year: 23-14, 9-9 ACC.
We’re looking for the Orange to take a step forward this season. (Not that last year’s result wasn’t a fine one, but they weren’t actually that great during the regular season until.... yeah.) They’ll have their usual assortment of tall guys, to which they’ll add CSU transfer John Gillon, who should be able to fill the team’s hole at PG.
5. Louisville Cardinals (KenPom #9)
Last year: 23-8, 12-6 ACC. Ineligible for postseason play.
If you’re like me, you didn’t pay much attention to Louisville last season since they weren’t ever eligible for the postseason, depended on a couple graduate transfers who won’t be around this year, and were swept by the Hoos by a combined 38 points. They’ll be a younger squad this year, but should still feature one of the nation’s best defenses; it helps to have four players of 6’ 10" or taller.
6. NC State Wolfpack (KenPom #34)
Last year: 16-17, 5-13 ACC. No Postseason.
After the top five in the conference, we see a drop-off in quality (and an increase in variance). NC State rose to the top somehow, despite the loss of Cat Barber. That said, they do return their other four starters and replace Barber with Dennis Smith Jr., who ESPN ranked as the best point guard in the 2016 class. So actually, that makes sense.
7. Miami Hurricanes (KenPom #24)
Last year: 27-8, 13-5 ACC. Made Sweet 16.
The Hurricanes should also be in contention for an NCAA bid, though I think we may have been a bit overoptimistic about the Hurricanes’ chances considering they were an NCAA 7 seed that took on heavy losses in the offseason. A nice class for Larranaga and a young squad means Miami does have a bright future.
8. Clemson Tigers (KenPom #23)
Last year: 17-14, 10-8 ACC. No Postseason.
After initially declaring for the NBA Draft, Jaron Blossomgame withdrew and is a sure bet to be on the ACC First Team this year. They featured the highest standard deviation out of all teams in our rankings, as we had them everywhere from 7th to 13th. (13th seems a bit extreme to me too.)
9. Virginia Tech Hokies (KenPom #39)
Last year: 20-15, 10-8 ACC. Made NIT.
Remember the good old days when we laughed and laughed at Virginia Tech’s basketball team? We’ll have to laugh about the Hokies for other reasons than being miserable at basketball, because the team should be pretty decent this season. They had a winning ACC record last year and return basically everyone.
10. Florida State Seminoles (KenPom #40)
Last year: 20-14, 8-10 ACC. Made NIT.
Though FSU appears all the way down here at 10, they were only an average of one spot below #6 NC State in our rankings. The Noles had their NCAA hopes torpedoed by a late-season five-game losing streak last year, but Xavier Rathan-Mayes and Dwayne Bacon should have the team competitive again this year.
11. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (KenPom #50)
Last year: 24-12, 11-7 ACC. Made Elite 8.
You know the ACC is deep when we project a team in KenPom’s top 50 to finish in the bottom third of the league. The Irish should have a fairly typical Mike Brey team featuring a strong offense and a forgettable defense.
12. Pittsburgh Panthers (KenPom #51)
Last year: 21-12, 9-9 ACC. Made First Round.
Kevin Stallings will take over as Pitt’s head coach this season after 17 years at Vanderbilt, during which he made the Sweet 16 one time. Don’t expect a huge stylistic change from Jamie Dixon’s style of play, but the UVA-Pitt matchup this year could feature more than 55 possessions for the first time ever. (Since joining the ACC: 51, 54, 55, 54)
13. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (KenPom #76)
Last year: 11-20, 2-16 ACC. No Postseason.
Wake probably won’t be as terrible as last season, but there will be pressure to show some life in year three of the Danny Manning era. The program has one road ACC win over the past 4 seasons. While KenPom projects an increase in quality over last year, it will be hard to translate that into results in this year’s super-strong edition of the conference.
14. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (KenPom #107)
Last year: 21-15, 8-10 ACC. Made NIT.
Georgia Tech lost their four best starters and their head coach after last season, and aren’t exactly recruiting like worldbeaters, so it’s safe to say that this is a rebuilding year for them. They won’t be good.
15. Boston College Golden Eagles (KenPom #154)
Last year: 7-25, 0-18 ACC. No Postseason.
There’s nowhere to go but up, right?
|Team||Avg Ranking||Std Deviation|
|Virginia||North Carolina||Duke||North Carolina||North Carolina||Virginia||North Carolina||Virginia||Syracuse||Virginia||Duke||North Carolina||Virginia||Virginia|
|North Carolina||Virginia||North Carolina||Virginia||Virginia||Syracuse||Virginia||North Carolina||Virginia||Syracuse||North Carolina||Louisville||North Carolina||Syracuse|
|Louisville||Syracuse||Syracuse||Louisville||Syracuse||North Carolina||Louisville||Louisville||North Carolina||Louisville||Louisville||Virginia||Syracuse||North Carolina|
|NC State||NC State||Clemson||Florida State||NC State||Clemson||Clemson||Clemson||Virginia Tech||Virginia Tech||Clemson||NC State||NC State||Florida State|
|Virginia Tech||Miami||Virginia Tech||NC State||Clemson||Miami||Miami||Miami||Notre Dame||Florida State||Miami||Florida State||Miami||NC State|
|Miami||Clemson||Miami||Virginia Tech||Miami||Florida State||NC State||NC State||Florida State||Clemson||Notre Dame||Miami||Clemson||Miami|
|Notre Dame||Virginia Tech||Florida State||Notre Dame||Florida State||NC State||Florida State||Virginia Tech||Miami||NC State||NC State||Clemson||Virginia Tech||Clemson|
|Clemson||Florida State||Notre Dame||Miami||Virginia Tech||Virginia Tech||Virginia Tech||Florida State||NC State||Miami||Virginia Tech||Virginia Tech||Notre Dame||Virginia Tech|
|Florida State||Notre Dame||NC State||Clemson||Notre Dame||Notre Dame||Notre Dame||Pittsburgh||Pittsburgh||Notre Dame||Florida State||Notre Dame||Florida State||Notre Dame|
|Pittsburgh||Wake Forest||Pittsburgh||Pittsburgh||Pittsburgh||Pittsburgh||Pittsburgh||Notre Dame||Wake Forest||Wake Forest||Wake Forest||Pittsburgh||Pittsburgh||Pittsburgh|
|Wake Forest||Pittsburgh||Wake Forest||Wake Forest||Wake Forest||Wake Forest||Wake Forest||Wake Forest||Clemson||Pittsburgh||Pittsburgh||Wake Forest||Wake Forest||Wake Forest|
|Georgia Tech||Georgia Tech||Georgia Tech||Georgia Tech||Georgia Tech||Georgia Tech||Georgia Tech||Boston College||Georgia Tech||Boston College||Georgia Tech||Georgia Tech||Georgia Tech||Georgia Tech|
|Boston College||Boston College||Boston College||Boston College||Boston College||Boston College||Boston College||Georgia Tech||Boston College||Georgia Tech||Boston College||Boston College||Boston College||Boston College|