Your updated semi-weekly ACC POWER rankings:
|Team||Record (ACC)||STL Ranking||Jan. 29 Ranking||KenPom Rank||RPI Rank (ESPN)|
|North Carolina||20-4 (9-2)||2||1||9||10|
|Notre Dame||17-7 (8-4)||6||6||28||23|
|Florida State||16-8 (6-6)||8||10||41||42|
|Georgia Tech||13-11 (3-8)||11||11||61||79|
|NC State||12-12 (2-9)||12||14||64||104|
|Virginia Tech||13-12 (5-7)||13||13||105||114|
|Wake Forest||10-14 (1-11)||14||12||141||98|
|Boston College||7-17 (0-11)||15||15||243||191|
Games of the Week:
This weekend: Virginia @ Duke, Louisville @ Notre Dame
Next week: Duke @ North Carolina
1. Virginia (Last Week: W @ Pittsburgh, @ vs. VT. Next: Saturday @ Duke, Monday vs. NC State)
Back on top! (To this homer, at least.) Two short weeks ago, the Hoos were coming off a miracle win at Wake Forest, narrowly averting dropping to .500 eight games into the conference season. Now, KenPom's projections have Virginia repeating as the ACC Tournament #1 seed. The Malcolm Brogdon Show has obviously helped, but it's defense that has led to four consecutive easy wins. Of UVA's four best defensive performances of the year (by efficiency standards), three were in the past two weeks - the other was the opener against Morgan State.
2. North Carolina (Last Week: L @ ND, W @ BC. Next: Sunday vs. Pittsburgh, Wednesday vs. Duke)
North Carolina is still North Carolina...but they're struggling for the first time this year, dropping back-to-back games, then nearly losing at Boston College (!) The Heels have the #4 offense in the nation, but are the conference's worst three-point shooting team (making 31% of threes, despite rarely attempting them).
3. Louisville (Last Week: W vs. BC, L @ Duke. Next: Saturday @ ND, Wednesday vs. Syracuse)
Though Louisville handed UNC its second conference loss, it also fell to UVA and Duke. The net effect will still raise concerns that the team hasn't passed its toughest tests, as the Cardinals fell to 2-4 against top-50 KenPom opponents . Maybe that's a bit unfair for the conference's best defensive team. (But then again, what does Louisville need to be tested for anyways?)
4. Miami (Last Week: W @ Georgia Tech, @ vs. Pitt. Next: Saturday @ FSU, Wednesday vs. VT)
The Canes are quietly angling themselves in excellent position for a first-round ACC bye. They're a thoroughly balanced team, with 4 starters using 19% of possessions or more and a sturdy defense to go with a top-20 offense (that has admittedly slipped a bit in ACC play).
5. Duke (Last Week: W vs. NC State, W vs. Louisville. Next: Saturday vs. Virginia, Wednesday @ UNC)
Duke's "struggles" have been fun, but I think some of the perception of the Blue Devils comes from holding them to a different standard. They're just a game and a half behind UVA and have been without Amile Jefferson, a key defensive cog. Their issues on defense can mostly be attributed to allowing conference opponents to rebound 35% of their own misses - can UVA take advantage?
6. Notre Dame (Last Week: W vs. UNC, W @ Clemson. Next: Saturday vs. Louisville)
Notre Dame as the ACC's best offense, and its second-worst defense. They do it by leading the nation in TO% and having a balanced trio of Zach Auguste, Demetrius Jackson, and Bonzie Colson all using over 22% of possessions and making over 53% of their shots in eFG% terms. But it follows that when the shots aren't falling, they're in trouble. The Irish are 2-6 when scoring under 1.15 PPP - (for comparison's sake, UVA is 11-4 in such games).
7. Syracuse (Last Week: W vs. VT, W vs. FSU Next: Sunday @ Boston College, Wednesday @ Louisville)
There's been talk about how the Selection Committee should treat Syracuse's 0-4 ACC start, in games when Jim Boeheim was serving a suspension, and subsequent recovery. But, was coaching really the issue for the Orange? Syracuse has since recovered to win 7 of 8, but a lighter schedule that featured a four-game homestand (5 of Syracuse's 7 wins were at home) helped too.
8. FSU (Last Week: W @ Wake Forest, L @ Syracuse. Next: Sunday vs. Miami, Wednesday vs. GT)
FSU's another team that has recovered from a shaky start to play their way into NCAA contention. In fact, Bracket Matrix currently has the Noles as a 9 seed, with 98% of brackets putting them in the field despite a .500 ACC record.
9. Pittsburgh (Last Week: W @ NCSU, L @ Miami. Next: Tuesday @ GT)
Jamie Dixon is a master of gaming the RPI. Pitt played an embarrassing out-of-conference schedule; besides their ACC-mandated game against Purdue (which they lost), the Panthers played 12 games, none on the road, and won them all...but their most impressive was a neutral site victory over KenPom #111 Davidson. They're 6-5 in ACC play. Yet their #37 RPI, just 10 spots behind Louisville, has them in position for an NCAA tournament berth. They do it by avoid good teams, but also avoiding the RPI-killers. Even their game against D-II St. Joesph's-Indiana was strategic, as D-II games are removed from RPI calculation. DOWN WITH RPI!
10. Clemson (Last Week: L @ VT, L vs. Notre Dame. Next: Saturday vs. GT, Wednesday vs. BC)
Clemson has fallen back to Earth since their impressive 5-1 ACC start, losing 4 of 6 and really struggling to score. Their schedule going forward lightens up, but the Tigers will have their late-season home game against Virginia circled if they want a shot at the Big Dance.
11. Georgia Tech (Last Week: L @ Miami, W vs. Wake Forest. Next: Saturday @ Clemson, Wednesday @ FSU)
I know I always come back to this when discussing the Yellow Jackets, but they have now lost all 8 of their conference games by single-digits. Last season, they were 3-15 in the ACC, but lost 13 of their 16 conference games (including the ACC Tourney) by single digits.
12. NC State (Last Week: L @ Duke. Next: Saturday vs. Wake Forest, Monday @ Virginia)
The Wolfpack are basically the Cat Barber show. He plays 96% of minutes (second-most in the nation), and shoots a ton. Against GeorgiaTech, he scored 36 points on 27 shots from the field (!). (Over a third of the game's possessions ended in a Cat Barber shot attempt.) That game is a microcosm of NC State's issues: Barber scored 36, Abu scored 22, the Pack finished with 83 points...but they allowed 90.
13. Virginia Tech (Last Week: W vs. Clemson, L @ Virginia. Next: Wednesday @ Miami)
After a surprising 4-1 start, the Hokies have lost 6 of 7. I don't think they are playing much worse; rather, their luck has evened out. Their 5 wins came by 13 points combined, and now they've lost some close ones. Zach LeDay scored 7 points on 1-7 shooting against UVA, snapping a 1-game streak of double digit scoring.
14. Wake Forest (Last Week: L @ Virginia, @ vs. ND. Next: Saturday vs. GT, Tuesday vs. VT)
After a promising out-of-conference that featured nice wins over Indiana, UCLA, and LSU (none at home), Wake Forest's season has spiraled out of control, to the tune of 9 straight losses. The bad news for Danny Manning is that Devin Thomas and Codi Miller-McIntyre (who is in the midst of a disastrous senior season) are on their way out the door too. The good old Dino Gaudio days seem like ages ago. (I guess the were).
15. Boston College (Last Week: L @ Louisville, L vs. UNC. Next: Sunday vs. Syracuse, Wednesday @ Clemson)
Obviously, BC;s near-miss in its attempt to earn an upset for the ages was disappointing. They were close - KenPom even gave them over 50% probability to pull it off up 7 with the ball and 7:30 to play. But the saving grace (for outside observers) is that BC is still in the running for the first winless ACC season since 1986-1987. KenPom now gives it a 24% of happening, with the Eagles best chances for wins coming in back-to-back home games against Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech.