While there isn’t much movement in this week’s rankings, this was an important week in the ACC race. Syracuse’s first conference loss means that Virginia is the only team left that hasn’t lost a league game, Duke was stunned by Miami before beating Louisville in a top ten matchup, and Boston College picked up a nice win for the league in non-conference play against Harvard.
1. Virginia (17-0 overall, 5-0 ACC, Last Week: 1st)
The Cavaliers took care of business in a pair of games this week, beating Clemson at home and Boston College on the road. The Wahoos remain second in the AP Poll, as Along with Kentucky, they are one of the two teams left undefeated. They are also the only ACC team unbeaten in league play. This week they play a pair of teams who have yet to win a conference game, hosting Georgia Tech on Thursday and traveling to Virginia Tech on Sunday. The lighter stretch is much needed, as it is ahead of a three-game stretch of games against ranked opponents.
2. Duke (15-2, 3-2, 2nd)
Coming off Duke’s loss to NC State last weekend, they came home to play Miami, but lost by 16 to end the nation’s longest home winning streak at 40 games. The Blue Devils responded, however, with a dominant road win against Louisville, and while they certainly didn’t look good in the game against the Hurricanes, after the win over the Cardinals they only dropped one spot from fourth to fifth in the AP Poll. The win over Louisville was Mike Krzyzewski’s 998th career win, meaning if the Blue Devils beat Pittsburgh tonight at home, Sunday’s non-conference game at St. John’s will be Coach K’s first shot at 1,000 career wins.
3. Notre Dame (17-2, 5-1, 3rd)
The Irish held on to beat Georgia Tech on the road, after the Yellow Jackets had previously taken them to double overtime in South Bend, before beating Miami at home. With the pair of wins, Notre Dame moves into the top 10 in the AP Poll, ranking eighth, their highest in four years. That ranking will be on the line on the road this week, with trips to Virginia Tech on Thursday and NC State on Sunday, with a home game against Duke lurking next week.
4. North Carolina (14-4, 4-1, 4th)
The Tar Heels did something Duke couldn’t do, winning at NC State, before comfortably beating Virginia Tech at home. A statistically good team continues to get even better, as they are now second in the nation in rebounding and sixth in assists per game, and overall the Heels rank 15th in the AP Poll. This team is also just a point away from being undefeated in conference play, as their only league loss was by a 71-70 margin to Notre Dame. Wednesday, Carolina will travel to in-state rival Wake Forest, before hosting Florida State on Saturday, ahead of a tough stretch of games starting next week.
5. Louisville (15-3, 3-2, 5th)
The Cardinals easily beat Virginia Tech earlier in the week, before losing to Duke on Saturday, and drop from sixth to 10th in the AP Poll as a result. Louisville ranks 11th nationally in blocks and seventh in steals, and has a little extra rest this week before playing at Pittsburgh on Saturday.
6. Miami (12-5, 2-2, 7th)
The Hurricanes stunned everyone on Tuesday when they stunned Duke, ending the Blue Devils’ home winning streak, but couldn’t do the same at Notre Dame, losing by five on the road to the Irish. The team isn’t statistically superb in any category, but overall Jim Larranaga has a very solid unit, which doesn’t really surprise anyone close to the ACC, since Larranaga has made a career of getting the most out of his teams. Thursday the Canes will host NC State, before traveling into yet another tough environment Saturday when they go to Syracuse. While Miami isn’t ranked, they received the second-most votes of those not in the top 25, although ESPN’s Joe Lunardi only has them as one of the “Last Four In” the projected NCAA field.
7. NC State (13-6, 4-2, 6th)
The Wolfpack followed their upset win over Duke last week with a close home loss to another rival in North Carolina, before traveling to Florida State and coming away with the victory. The Pack are listed within the “Last Four Byes” in the projected NCAA field on Lunardi’s bracket, a role the program is used to, as it seems they end up on the bubble about every year, although they haven’t missed the tournament under coach Mark Gottfried in his first three seasons. Thursday, the Wolfpack travel to Miami, before playing another ranked opponent on Sunday when they host Notre Dame.
8. Syracuse (13-5, 4-1, 8th)
The Orange kept their undefeated league record on Tuesday with an overtime win over Wake Forest (in one of the games of the year so far), before a surprising game at Clemson in which the Orange trailed by 21 at the half before losing by 13 for their first league loss. Like Miami, the Orange are currently listed as in the “Last Four In” in the projected NCAA field. To stay in the field, the first thing they need to do is beat Boston College at home on Tuesday, ahead of a home game with Miami on Saturday.
9. Pittsburgh (13-5, 3-2, 11th)
Right now, there is a very clear divide between the top eight and the bottom seven in the ACC. That being said, Pittsburgh is currently the best team out of that second tier, after wins in the last week over Florida State and Georgia Tech. With the wins, the Panthers currently have a winning record in conference play, although that record will be tested this week. Tonight the Panthers go to Duke, before hosting Louisville on Saturday, a pair of games that give them a definite opportunity to move out of the bottom tier.
10. Clemson (10-7, 2-3, 10th)
After an expected loss on the road at Virginia, the Tigers came home to beat Syracuse in the opener of their current three-game home stand. After struggling at the start of the year, the Tigers have improved to 73rd nationally in points allowed per game, giving up 61.9 per contest. This week, the home stand continues as Florida State and Wake Forest both visit Littlejohn Coliseum, with the Tigers playing the Seminoles tonight and the Deacons on Saturday.
11. Wake Forest (9-9, 1-4, 9th)
The Demon Deacons were so close to their first league road win on Tuesday, losing in overtime to Syracuse in their only game of the week, after Cornelius Hudson’s shot from beyond the half-court mark bounced out at the buzzer. This week, Wake will host North Carolina in their first game in eight days, before traveling to Clemson this weekend, as Danny Manning looks for his first win over a ranked team at Wake on Wednesday and his first conference road win on Saturday.
12. Florida State (9-9, 1-4, 13th)
After Florida State’s first league win, they didn’t move up in these rankings, as the win was over the last place team, Virginia Tech. However, this week the three teams who remain winless in league play were all put at the bottom, and so Florida State, despite losses at Pittsburgh and at home to NC State, actually moved up a spot, passing Georgia Tech. If Leonard Hamilton’s team wants to pick up another league win this week, they will have to do so on the road, as they travel to Clemson tonight before going to Chapel Hill on Saturday.
13. Boston College (8-8, 0-4, 14th)
In their only conference game of the week, Boston College lost to Virginia, although the 15-point margin was closer than many of Virginia’s victims. Earlier in the week, however, in a non-conference game against Harvard, the Eagles beat the 10-4 Crimson in overtime, picking up a rivalry win for Jim Christian in his first season at the helm in Chestnut Hill. However, Christian is still looking for his first ACC win, and if it comes this week, it will be on the road, as the Eagles play at Syracuse on Tuesday before traveling to Georgia Tech on Sunday.
14. Georgia Tech (9-8, 0-5, 12th)
The Yellow Jackets lost a pair of close games over the past week, losing to a top 15 Notre Dame team at home, before falling on the road at Pittsburgh. For the season, the Yellow Jackets have conference losses by margins of 7 (in double overtime), 1, 7, 3, and 5, a tough break for a coach potentially on the hot seat in Brian Gregory in a business where wins and losses, not how competitive you are, is the report card. The road doesn’t get any easier, as the Yellow Jackets will go to Virginia on Tuesday, although they host Boston College on Sunday.
15. Virginia Tech (8-9, 0-4, 15th)
The Hokies are in the midst of a five-game losing streak, including their first four league games, in Buzz Williams’ first season at the helm in Blacksburg. They are currently in the midst of a four-game set of games against ranked opponents, losing the first two to Louisville and North Carolina, with both games ending in 15-point margins although much of the game was not as close. The tough stretch continues when the Hokies host Notre Dame on Thursday and Virginia on Sunday.
Game of the Week: #8 Notre Dame at NC State (Sunday, 6:30 PM ET)
While the most historic game of the week will likely be on Sunday, as Mike Krzyzewski will potentially have a shot at his 1,000th win, that is a non-conference game against an opponent (St. John’s) who is currently 1-4 in the Big East. This game in Raleigh will mean more to the ACC race, and is the best game of a week that has somewhat of a lack of big matchups. NC State beat Duke at home, and nearly beat North Carolina, and is known for having a very tough environment for visitors to win in. Also, the possibility of beating a ranked team will be big for the Wolfpack, who are currently a bubble team for the NCAA Tournament. Notre Dame hasn’t played in PNC Arena since joining the ACC, although every road game in this conference is a tough test. The guard play of Notre Dame has been exceptional, led by Jerian Grant, and the Irish rank 2nd nationally with a .528 field goal percentage, a stat that generally travels well, as it did in the Irish’s last trip to Tobacco Road, when they beat North Carolina 71-70.
Notre Dame 76, NC State 72.