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 (19-2, 8-0)
This week: at Louisville, Monday; at Notre Dame, Saturday
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Tar Heels regained their shooting touch, somewhat, in a victory against Boston College but now the warm-ups are over and the more challenging part of UNC’s conference schedule begins.
2. Virginia (17-4, 6-3)
This week: vs. Boston College, Wednesday; at Pittsburgh, Saturday
Cavaliers have won five of six since that surprising 1-2 start in conference play, and their victory at Louisville on Saturday atoned for some of those earlier road defeats.
3. Louisville (17-4, 6-2)
This week: vs. UNC, Monday; vs. Boston College, Saturday
An enticing match-up on Monday at Louisville, where one of the best defenses in the country (that’d be the one belonging to the Cardinals) will be challenged against the Tar Heels’ offensive machine.
4. Notre Dame (15-6, 6-3)
This week: at Miami, Wednesday; vs. UNC, Saturday
On a per-possession basis the Fighting Irish are one of the best offensive teams in the ACC (and second nationally in efficiency) and the league’s worst defensive team, according to kenpom.com.
5. Clemson (13-8, 6-3)
This week: at Wake Forest, Tuesday; at Virginia Tech, Saturday
Tigers are on the road twice this week but they can’t afford any slip-ups in what will be highly-winnable games.
6. Miami (16-4, 5-3)
This week: vs. Notre Dame, Wednesday; at Georgia Tech, Sunday
An ugly loss at N.C. State is no way to follow a home victory against Duke – and it doesn’t get any easier with Notre Dame visiting on Wednesday.
7. Syracuse (15-8, 5-5)
This week: vs. Virginia Tech, Tuesday; vs. Florida State, Thursday
Since a loss against UNC on Jan. 9 the Orange have won five of six, with the only defeat at Virginia, and Syracuse has victories against Duke and Notre Dame during that span.
8. Pittsburgh (16-4, 5-3)
This week: vs. Virginia Tech, today; vs. Virginia, Saturday
Entering its game today against Virginia Tech, the Panthers had lost three out of five after a 3-0 start in conference play.
9. Duke (15-6, 4-4)
This week: at Georgia Tech, Tuesday; vs. N.C. State, Saturday
The next two are must-wins for the Blue Devils because of what they face after these games – four games against Louisville, Virginia, UNC and Louisville again.
10. Florida State (14-7, 4-5)
This week: vs. N.C. State, Monday; at Wake Forest, Saturday
Boston College came at the right time on the schedule, after Florida State collapsed in a two-point home loss against Pittsburgh on Jan. 23. Since then, though, two straight victories.
11. Virginia Tech (12-9, 4-4)
This week: at Pittsburgh, today; at Syracuse, Tuesday; vs. Clemson, Saturday
Hokies were 4-1 in the ACC not long ago, but there’s no shame in losing by a combined 15 points against Notre Dame, UNC and Louisville.
12. Georgia Tech (12-9, 2-6)
This week: vs. Duke, Tuesday; vs. Miami, Sunday
Different year, same story for the Yellow Jackets, who just can’t seem to win a close game – like on Saturday in a 60-57 loss against Syracuse.
13. N.C. State (12-10, 2-7)
This week: at Florida State, Monday; at Duke, Saturday
Wolfpack showed some character on Saturday with an impressive victory against Miami – but that followed a loss against Georgia Tech that left Mark Gottfried steaming.
14. Wake Forest (10-11, 1-8)
This week: vs. Clemson, Tuesday; vs. Florida State, Saturday
The Demon Deacons’ loss against Virginia last week immediately entered the Brutal and Gut-Wrenching Ways to Lose Hall of Fame, which is probably based in Cleveland.
15. Boston College (7-14, 0-8)
This week: at Virginia, Wednesday; at Louisville, Saturday
Eagles’ current four-game run looks like a sick joke: at UNC, at Virginia, at Louisville and then back home for more against UNC. That’s not right, ACC.
1. Good for Roy Williams for ripping ESPN’s “green room” promotion.
Williams went into Defcon-5 Ol’ Roy mode last week when he blasted ESPN’s references to the NBA draft “green room” during college basketball broadcasts. You might have seen the promos, which reference various college players’ pro potential and describes some of them, Duke’s Brandon Ingram, for one, as “green room guys.” Good for Williams. As he pointed out, ESPN is in a partnership with the ACC and here the network is, metaphorically pushing college players off of campus and into the green room. College coaches should be upset about it because it devalues their sport and reemphasizes the notion that college is merely a short detour on the way to the NBA.
2. Williams and Jim Boeheim are right about the ACC schedule, too.
Williams’ “green room” rant came toward the end of another about the way the ACC schedule is constructed, with some games bunched together and others spread out. Last week, UNC didn’t play a midweek game for the second time in three weeks. Now UNC will play two games in three days. Syracuse coach Boeheim called the ACC schedule “stupid” and it’s hard to disagree. The Sunday and Monday night games have made scheduling more difficult, but the league should work to create a better flow to the schedule.
3. Virginia’s comeback at Wake Forest seems like it should be among best in league history.
Around here, nothing beats UNC’s comeback from eight points down with 17 seconds to play against Duke in 1974. The Tar Heels tied the game, then won in overtime. And while Virgina-Wake Forest doesn’t have the same cache as Duke-UNC, what the Cavaliers did last week at Wake Forest should be remembered for years to come as one of the most improbable comebacks in ACC history. Virginia didn’t come back from an eight-point deficit in 17 seconds, but it did erase a seven-point deficit in 15 seconds to win in regulation. Because it came in January, though, and in not the most high-profile of games, the moment might not endure the way it would otherwise.