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 (18-2, 7-0)
This week: at Virginia Tech, Sunday; vs. Boston College, Saturday
Tar Heels have often won in pretty fashion and last week they proved they can do it ugly, too.
2. Louisville (16-3, 5-1)
This week: at Virginia Tech, Wednesday; vs. Virginia, Saturday
Cardinals continue to get it done with defense and they haven’t allowed more than 72 points in any of their six ACC games.
3. Virginia (14-4, 3-3)
This week: vs. Syracuse, Sunday; at Wake Forest, Tuesday; at Louisville, Saturday
Cavaliers have yet to win a road game in the conference and they have a particularly important one coming up this weekend at Louisville.
4. Notre Dame (14-5, 5-2)
This week: at Syracuse, Thursday; vs. Wake Forest, Sunday
How good are the Fighting Irish, really? Four of five ACC wins have been against Boston College (twice), Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech.
5. Clemson (12-7, 5-2)
This week: vs. Pittsburgh, Wednesday; at Florida State, Saturday
No shame in losing by seven points at Virginia but a couple of important swing games coming up this week for the Tigers.
6. Miami (15-3, 4-2)
This week: vs. Duke, Monday; at N.C. State, Saturday
Hurricanes seem to be another of those “how good are they, really” teams, so the game against Duke on Monday night should offer some clarity.
7. Duke (15-5, 4-3)
This week: at Miami, Monday
The Monday night game at Miami looks like a swing game on the schedule; win it and the Blue Devils are back in the thick of things in the ACC’s upper tier, lose it and it could be tough to climb there.
8. Pittsburgh (16-3, 5-2)
This week: at Clemson, Wednesday; vs. Virginia Tech, Sunday
Panthers’ offensive efficiency numbers took a hit last week, especially during an ugly 78-61 home loss against N.C. State that calls into question the Panthers’ potential.
9. Syracuse (13-7, 3-4)
This week: at Virginia, Jan. 24; vs. Notre Dame, Thursday
The Orange have righted the ship after an 0-4 start, and its trip to Duke wouldn’t be complete without a close, and controversial, finish.
10. Virginia Tech (12-8, 4-3)
This week: vs. North Carolina, Jan. 24; vs. Louisville, Wednesday, at Pittsburgh, Sunday
Four of the Hokies’ first six conference games were decided by two points or less and another, a 73-68 win against N.C. State, went into overtime.
11. Florida State (12-7, 2-5)
This week: at Boston College, Tuesday; vs. Clemson, Saturday
An uninspired loss at Louisville and then a meltdown of a defeat at home against Pittsburgh on Saturday – no, last week wasn’t a good week for the Seminoles.
12. N.C. State (11-9, 1-6)
This week: vs. Georgia Tech, Wednesday; vs. Miami, Saturday
Wolfpack won big at Pitt in a performance nobody saw coming and then kept it respectable against Duke – and so N.C. State celebrates a coveted move up in the power rankings.
13. Georgia Tech (11-8, 1-5)
This week: at N.C. State, Wednesday; at Syracuse, Saturday
Same old, same old for the Yellow Jackets, who have lost three ACC games by five points or less and are struggling in close games just as they did last season.
14. Wake Forest (10-9, 1-6)
This week: vs. Virginia, Wednesday; at Notre Dame, Sunday
Memories are quickly fading of those November and December games when the Demon Deacons looked like they could be one of the ACC’s surprise teams; they’ve lost four straight.
15. Boston College (7-12, 0-6)
This week: vs. Florida State, Tuesday; at UNC, Saturday
The gap is considerable between the Eagles and whichever team winds up in 14th place.
1. After another strong game on Sunday, Brice Johnson is your ACC Player of the Year favorite.
Though UNC coach Roy Williams would be quick to remind us that it was just two games ago that Johnson finished with four points in a victory against N.C. State, the Tar Heels’ senior forward has now emerged as the front-runner for ACC Player of the Year honors. It’s a wide-open race for the honor and Johnson now has a stronger case than anyone, what with another week filled with double-doubles – 27 points and 11 rebounds in a victory against Wake Forest and 19 points and 17 rebounds on Sunday against Virginia Tech. When he’s at his best, Johnson is the most productive player in the conference.
2. Hello – didn’t you used to be Florida State’s NCAA tournament chances?
The Seminoles’ season is hardly over but it’s fair to wonder what’s going on in Tallahassee after their fifth loss in seven games to start conference play. Florida State, which collapsed down the stretch of a home loss against Pittsburgh on Saturday, has one of the most formidable trios in the country with freshmen Malik Beasley and Dwayne Bacon and sophomore Xavier Rathan-Mayes, who did not play in an uninspired loss at Louisville last week. But the talent hasn’t translated to wins. Which is a shame, because the Seminoles have the talent to break a three-year NCAA tournament drought. But not the way they’re playing.
3. We could be watching sad history unfold at Boston College.
Excuse the tired it’s-like-watching-a-car-wreck cliché, but Boston College’s pursuit of dubious perfection – an 0-18 conference record – will be one of the more interesting subplots during the final month and a half of the regular season. Can the Eagles make it happen? It seems there’s more than a slight chance. Boston College has a 21.4 percent of not winning another regular-season game, according to kenpom.com. The Eagles rank 250th nationally, according to the website – nearly 130 spots lower than Wake Forest, which is the next-lowest ranked ACC team.