ACC Basketball Power Rankings, Week of 1/16

The ACC is nearing the one-third mark of league play, and the league is as deep as ever this season.

Consensus preseason favorite Duke is under .500 in league play, and the two teams that were expected to be well behind the pack are a combined 5-5.  Winning on the road is just as hard as ever, yet winning at home is no guarantee when a tough opponent is coming to your building night in and night out.

Here is how the league stacks up, with just under eight weeks until Selection Sunday.

1. North Carolina (16-3, 4-1 ACC, Previous Ranking: 3rd, AP Poll: 9th)
Last Week:  away win over Wake Forest, home win over Florida State
This Week:  Monday vs. Syracuse, Saturday at Boston College
The Tar Heels picked up one of the best wins by anyone in the ACC so far on Saturday, handing Florida State their first conference loss.  The Heels lead the nation in rebounding (42.6 per game), are fourth in points per game (89.6), and are sixth in assists (18.2).

2. Notre Dame (16-2, 5-0, PR: 6th, AP: 15th)
Last Week:  away win over Miami, away win over Virginia Tech
This Week:  Wednesday at Florida State, Saturday vs. Syracuse
Mike Brey has done another fantastic job in South Bend, as the Fighting Irish are now the last undefeated team left in ACC play.  Their only two losses are neutral-site games to #1 Villanova and #21 Purdue, as they are undefeated both at home (11-0) and on the road (3-0), although the latter could be in jeopardy Wednesday in Tallahassee.

3. Florida State (16-2, 4-1, PR: 5th, AP: 10th)
Last Week:  home win over Duke, away loss to North Carolina
This Week:  Wednesday vs. Notre Dame, Saturday vs. Louisville
The Seminoles no longer have their undefeated conference record, although no one expected any team in this deep league to stay perfect for long.  They do remain in the AP’s top 10 as they enter the final two games of a six-game stretch against ranked opponents with a 4-1 record against ranked teams.  Leonard Hamilton’s past teams have won with defense, but this team’s strength is the offense, scoring the 13th most points per game in the nation (86.5).

4. Louisville (15-3, 3-2, PR: 2nd, AP: 12th)
Last Week:  home win over Pittsburgh, home win over Duke
This Week:  Thursday vs. Clemson, Saturday at Florida State
Louisville didn’t have to leave home in the last week, but picked up two wins, including a big one over Duke.  The Cardinals are ranked second nationally in KenPom‘s adjusted defensive efficiency (86.0 points per 100 possessions), and faces a great battle against Florida State’s offense this weekend in Tallahassee.

5. Virginia (13-3, 3-2, PR: 4th, AP: 16th)
Last Week:  away win over Clemson
This Week:  Wednesday at Boston College, Saturday vs. Georgia Tech
The Cavaliers won at sold-out Littlejohn Coliseum in a festive atmosphere as Clemson celebrated their football national championship.  The Cavaliers are known for their defense (53.4 PPG allowed leads nation) and slow pace (59.9 possesions per 40 minutes is the least nationally), that doesn’t make them inefficient on offense–their 115.0 points per 100 possessions is 15th nationally.  There are no easy games in the ACC, but the Wahoos get two of the least difficult this week.

6. Duke (14-4, 2-3, PR: 1st, AP: 18th)
Last Week:  away loss to Florida State, away loss to Louisville
This Week:  Saturday vs. Miami
When the Blue Devils look back at the 2016-17 season, they won’t be able to say they didn’t face adversity.  From Mike Krzyzewski’s absence with back surgery to Grayson Allen’s tripping incident to Amile Jefferson’s injury, this team is going through a rough patch, and it’s showing in the results:  the Blue Devils are now 0-3 on the road.  They do have a few extra days to prepare for Miami, who comes to Durham on Saturday.

7. Virginia Tech (13-4, 2-3, PR: 7th)
Last Week:  home win over Syracuse, home loss to Notre Dame
This Week:  Wednesday vs. Georgia Tech, Sunday at Clemson
There’s a big gap between the top six and the rest of the league, but that doesn’t discount how well some of the bottom nine teams have been playing.  The Hokies have wins over Duke and Syracuse, and nearly beat Notre Dame, something no one in the ACC has done.  One thing that has hurt the Hokies is rebounding–they rank 215th nationally with only 35.7 per game.

8. Syracuse (11-7, 3-2, PR: 13th)
Last Week:  away loss to Virginia Tech, home win over Boston College
This Week:  Monday at North Carolina, Saturday at Notre Dame
The Orange haven’t won more than two in a row since their four-game winning streak to begin the season, but they have still improved since a rough stretch in non-conference play, and currently sit over .500 in the ACC.  It won’t be easy from here (it never is in the ACC), as three of their next four games are against the top three teams in these rankings.

9. Miami (12-4, 2-2, PR: 12th)
Last Week:  home loss to Notre Dame, away win at Pittsburgh
This Week:  Wednesday at Wake Forest, Saturday at Duke
While Pittsburgh isn’t necessarily the best team anyone has beat on the road, Miami’s 26-point win over the Panthers may have been the most dominant such win.  The win was the 600th in the career of coach Jim Larranaga, joining Krzyzewski, Williams, Pitino and Boeheim as active ACC coaches with 600 or more.  The ‘Canes are fourth nationally at 59.6 PPG allowed.

10. Clemson (11-6, 1-4, PR: 8th)
Last Week:  away loss to Georgia Tech, home loss to Virginia
This Week:  Thursday at Louisville, Sunday vs. Virginia Tech
While it was a fantastic week for Clemson athletics collectively, the basketball team didn’t follow football’s winning ways.  The Tigers, who are much better than their 1-4 league record, are now tied for last in the standings despite being in every game.  As is typical in the ACC, the schedule doesn’t get any easier, and most of the Tigers’ toughest games coming up are on the road.

11. Pittsburgh (12-6, 1-4, PR: 11th)
Last Week:  away loss to Louisville, home loss to Miami
This Week:  Tuesday at NC State
While no one necessarily expected Pitt to go to Louisville and win, I don’t think anyone saw their 72-46 home loss to Miami coming.  The mettle of this veteran team is being tested, and if they are to improve, it will have to start on defense; they are currently allowing 76.2 PPG, which is only 269th nationally.

12. Georgia Tech (11-6, 3-2, PR: 14th)
Last Week:  home win over Clemson, away win over NC State
This Week:  Wednesday at Virginia Tech, Saturday at Virginia
The league’s biggest surprise could very well be Georgia Tech, who is currently tied for fourth in the standings, with their only losses coming to Duke and Louisville.  In the past week, they triumphed over Clemson and NC State, with the latter on the road.  This week they will have to be road warriors again, with a pair of Commonwealth matchups in Virginia.

13. Wake Forest (10-7, 1-4, PR: 11th)
Last Week:  home loss to North Carolina
This Week:  Wednesday vs. Miami, Saturday at NC State
The Demon Deacons are, surprising to me, ranked 41st in KenPom’s national ranking, despite a 1-4 league start, on the strength of the 23rd best adjusted offensive efficiency (115.9 points per 100 possessions).  Closing games has been an issue (sounds familiar), but the Deacons could potentially make up some ground over the next three weeks, as they only play one ranked team between now and February 7 (such stretches are rare in the ACC).

14. Boston College (9-9, 2-3, PR: 15th)
Last Week:  home win over NC State, away loss to Syracuse
This Week:  Wednesday at Virginia, Saturday vs. North Carolina
Despite a lot of roster turnover, the Eagles are far better than last year (although they didn’t have any farther to drop after an 0-18 conference season).  The Eagles have yet to win an ACC road game, but they are 2-0 at Conte Forum, with the chance to upset Virginia and North Carolina there this week.

15. NC State (12-6, 1-4, PR: 10th)
Last Week:  away loss to Boston College, home loss to Georgia Tech
This Week:  Tuesday vs. Pittsburgh, Saturday vs. Wake Forest
After losses to the 12th- and 14th-ranked teams in these rankings in the last week, Mark Gottfried needs to find some answers fast.  There is a lot of talent on this roster, but they are struggling right now, especially defensively (76.4 PPG allowed is 274th).  The Wolfpack are 0-4 on the road and 10-1 at home, although the loss came last night to Georgia Tech.  Two home games this week against Pittsburgh and Wake Forest loom large ahead of a Duke-Louisville road trip.

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