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. North Carolina (15-2, 4-0)
This week: vs. N.C. State, Saturday
The Tar Heels’ offensive machine – 13 straight games with at least 80 points – kept on rolling last week in impressive victories at Florida State and at Syracuse.
2. Duke (14-2, 3-0)
This week: at Clemson, Wednesday; vs. Notre Dame, Saturday
All of a sudden the Blue Devils’ game at Clemson on Wednesday has some real intrigue to it, given the Tigers’ hot start to conference play.
3. Miami (13-1, 2-0)
This week: at Virginia, Tuesday; at Clemson, Saturday
The Hurricanes made it look easy in home wins against Syracuse and Florida State but this week – with road games at Virginia and Clemson – will tell us a lot more about Miami.
4. Pittsburgh (14-1, 3-0)
This week: at Louisville, Thursday; vs. Boston College, Saturday
The Panthers rank fourth nationally in offensive efficiency, according to kenpom.com, and they’ve won 10 consecutive games.
5. Clemson (10-6, 3-1)
This week: vs. Duke, Wednesday; vs. Miami, Saturday
Nobody predicted Clemson would win three consecutive games after losing at North Carolina, but can the Tigers keep it going at home against Duke and Miami?
6. Louisville (13-3, 2-1)
This week: vs. Pittsburgh, Thursday
Teams have to make the most of their opportunities to win on the road and Louisville let a prime chance slip away in a defeat at Clemson Sunday.
7. Virginia (12-3, 1-2 ACC)
This week: vs. Miami, Tuesday; at Florida State, Sunday
It’s tough to win on the road in the ACC, sure, but losses at Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech raise some questions about the Cavaliers.
8. Notre Dame (10-5, 1-2)
This week: vs. Georgia Tech, Wednesday; at Duke, Saturday
The Fighting Irish are a strong offensive team – third nationally in offensive efficiency – but have been bad defensively, ranking 219th nationally in defensive efficiency.
9. Georgia Tech (11-5, 1-2)
This week: at Notre Dame, Wednesday; vs. Virginia Tech, Saturday
Consider the Yellow Jackets’ game at Notre Dame on Wednesday a single-elimination, one-game tournament in which the winner claims relevancy in the middle of the ACC.
10. Virginia Tech (10-6, 2-1)
This week: vs. Wake Forest, Wednesday; at Georgia Tech, Saturday
Nothing like a 24-point loss at Duke to bring a team back down to Earth after riding high following a 2-0 start in the ACC that included a victory against Virginia.
11. Wake Forest (10-5, 1-2)
This week: at Virginia Tech, Wednesday; vs. Syracuse, Saturday
The Demon Deacons started conference schedule with two difficult games and they have an opportunity to bounce back this week.
12. Florida State (10-5, 0-3)
This week: at N.C. State, Wednesday; vs. Virginia, Sunday
The Seminoles might not be bad in the least but they could realistically start their conference schedule 0-7 – especially if they don’t win at N.C. State this week.
13. N.C. State (10-6, 0-3)
This week: vs. Florida State, Wednesday; at North Carolina, Saturday
Cat Barber needs some help but none appears to be on the way for the Wolfpack, which after the Florida State game on Wednesday has a difficult stretch – at UNC and Pitt, vs. Duke – upcoming.
14. Syracuse (10-7, 0-4)
This week: vs. Boston College, Wednesday; at Wake Forest, Saturday
Jim Boeheim’s return on Saturday night couldn’t help the Orange stop UNC once the Tar Heels figured out how to attack Syracuse’s 2-3 zone.
15. Boston College (7-8, 0-2)
This week: at Syracuse, Wednesday; at Pitt, Saturday
The Eagles just might break through with an ACC win, or two, but it’s not likely to come this week with road games at Syracuse and Pittsburgh.
1. Yes, this segment is called “three points” and not “three questions” but, that said, a question: Does North Carolina have its best offensive team of Roy Williams’ tenure? UNC’s 2009 national championship team, which averaged 90.2 points per game, set the benchmark. This UNC team, though, isn’t too far behind. The Tar Heels are averaging 87.2 points per game, and they scored 84 at Syracuse on Saturday with one of their best scorers, Marcus Paige, finishing with three points. Six UNC players are averaging double figures. The ’09 team was better from the perimeter, but this one might be better everywhere else.
2. For those who care about the national perception of conferences, it’s a two-man race for best conference in college basketball. There’s the Big 12, the ACC and then there’s everybody else. The Big 12 doesn’t have the depth the ACC does – not in a literal or figurative sense – but Oklahoma and Kansas could be the nation’s two best teams. The ACC, meanwhile, is home to five of the top 10 teams in the Pomeroy rankings. Other leagues, including the Big Ten, don’t compare.
3. In case you’re unaware, Duke’s Brandon Ingram has been among the ACC’s best since December. Which comes as something of a surprise given how he ended November, failing to score in double-figures in four of Duke’s final five games that month. He has played at least 37 minutes in Duke’s first three league games, and those struggles at the beginning of the season seem like a distant, grainy memory.