Each week I’ll rank the ACC from best to worst. This isn’t a predicted order of finish but rather a reflection of where teams stand today. Records are current through games played on Sunday afternoon:
1. Virginia (12-1, 1-0 ACC)
This week: at Virginia Tech, Tuesday; at Georgia Tech, Saturday
Still among the slowest teams in the nation, Virginia has remained one of the most efficient and its victory against Notre Dame on Saturday was its 11th consecutive.
2. North Carolina (13-2, 2-0)
This week: at Florida State, Monday; vs. Syracuse, Saturday
Tar Heels need Kennedy Meeks back and healthy, but his absence has allowed for the welcome emergence of junior forward Isaiah Hicks.
3. Duke (12-2, 1-0)
This week: at Wake Forest, Wednesday; vs. Virginia Tech, Saturday
Brandon Ingram (at least 25 points in two of Duke’s past three) is helping the Blue Devils overcome the loss of Amile Jefferson, who remains out indefinitely.
4. Miami (12-1, 1-0)
This week: vs. Florida State, Saturday
Hurricanes have won seven in a row, including a victory against Syracuse on Saturday, since a one-point defeat against Northeastern in late November.
5. Louisville (11-2, 0-0)
This week: vs. Wake Forest, tonight; at N.C. State, Thursday; at Clemson, Sunday
Cardinals’ only two losses are against Michigan State and Kentucky, by a combined six points, but they haven’t beaten anyone of significance, either.
6. Pittsburgh (12-1, 1-0)
This week: vs. Georgia Tech, Wednesday; at Notre Dame, Saturday
Conference-opening victory against Syracuse immediately became Panthers’ most impressive victory after a non-conference schedule that wasn’t too challenging.
7. Notre Dame (9-4, 0-1)
This week: at Boston College, Thursday; vs. Pittsburgh, Saturday
No shame in losing at Virginia but the Fighting Irish, which rank 187th nationally in defensive efficiency, according to kenpom.com, must improve defensively.
8. Florida State (10-3, 0-1)
This week: vs. UNC, Monday, at Miami, Saturday
So begins a difficult stretch for the Seminoles, who in their next six games play against UNC, at Miami and N.C. State, against Virginia, at Louisville and against Pitt.
9. Wake Forest (9-3, 0-0)
This week: at Louisville, tonight; vs. Duke, Wednesday; vs. N.C. State, Sunday
Demon Deacons entered ACC play having won six of seven, with victories against UCLA, Arkansas and LSU.
10. Syracuse (10-5, 0-2)
This week: vs. Clemson, Tuesday; vs. UNC, Saturday
Should be a festive environment in the Carrier Dome on Saturday, what with UNC coming to town in Jim Boeheim’s first game back from a suspension.
11. Georgia Tech (10-4, 0-1)
This week: at Pitt, Wednesday; vs. Virginia, Saturday
There’s some hope yet for the Yellow Jackets, who looked good for long stretches on Saturday in a loss at UNC.
12. Clemson (8-6, 1-1)
This week: at Syracuse, Tuesday; vs. Louisville, Sunday
Tigers should take time to enjoy victory against Florida State on Saturday because upcoming schedule is brutal: at Syracuse, vs. Louisville, Duke and Miami, at Virginia, vs. Pitt and at Florida State.
13. Virginia Tech (9-5, 1-0)
This week: vs. Virginia, Monday; at Duke, Saturday
An overtime victory against N.C. State on Saturday keeps the Hokies from the expected pairing with Boston College at the bottom of the rankings.
14. N.C. State (10-4, 0-1)
This week: vs. Louisville, Thursday; at Wake Forest, Sunday
Wolfpack are a one-man band right now and Cat Barber, who played every minute in the loss at Virginia Tech, needs help – but is there any to provide?
15. Boston College (7-7, 0-1)
This week: vs. Notre Dame, Thursday; at Syracuse, Wednesday
Boston College is likely to win an ACC game at some point, sometime, but an 0-12 start is realistic and an 0-18 finish isn’t out of the question.
1. The biggest surprise of the first few days of ACC play: Florida State’s loss at Clemson.
The Seminoles should be in position to break a three-year NCAA tournament drought this season but now they’re going to have to play catch-up after their 84-75 loss against the Tigers on Saturday.
2. The ACC has been the nation’s best offensive league, and don’t expect that to change.
Of the top five most efficient offensive teams in the country, according to kenpom.com, four are from the ACC (Virginia, Duke, UNC and Notre Dame). Overall seven of the top 20 most efficient teams in the nation are from the ACC.
3. It’s way early for this but the ACC Player of the Year race is wide open.
Last year we knew that Jahlil Okafor was the best player in the league. Two years ago we knew it was probably either T.J. Warren or Jabari Parker, with Marcus Paige making a push for consideration.
Who is the league’s best player this season?
Virginia’s Malcolm Brogdon or his teammate, Anthony Gill? Duke’s Grayson Allen? UNC’s Paige or Brice Johnson? Somebody else? The ACC is home to several very good players but no one, it appears right now, is that much better than any of the other leading player of the year candidates.