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 (22-6, 11-5)
This week: at Clemson, Tuesday; vs. Louisville, Saturday
Cavaliers have the edge, for now, over North Carolina for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament
2. North Carolina (23-6, 12-4)
This week: vs. Syracuse, Monday; at Duke, Saturday
Attention, Tar Heels fans: There’s no shame in losing by five at Virginia. Really, there’s not.
3. Miami (23-5, 12-4)
This week: at Notre Dame, Wednesday; at Virginia Tech, Saturday
Hurricanes have won seven of eight, including wins last week against Virginia and Louisville. But the one loss was by 25 points at UNC, which is why Miami is here and not higher.
4. Louisville (23-8, 12-6)
This week: vs. Georgia Tech, Tuesday; at Virginia, Saturday
Cardinals are 3-3 in their past six games, and how motivated will they be in their final week of the season?
5. Duke (21-8, 10-6)
This week: vs. Wake Forest, Tuesday; vs. North Carolina, Saturday
Blue Devils reverted back to midseason form – and not in a good way – in 76-62 loss at Pittsburgh on Sunday.
6. Pittsburgh (20-8, 9-7)
This week: at Virginia Tech, Wednesday; at Georgia Tech, Saturday
Panthers have won three of four and another victory should get them permanently off the NCAA tournament bubble –if they’re not already there.
7. Notre Dame (19-9, 10-6)
This week: vs. Miami, Wednesday; vs. N.C. State, Saturday
The Fighting Irish have lost four of their past six on the road but, as luck would have it, final two regular-season games are at home.
8. Syracuse (19-10, 9-7)
This week: at North Carolina, Monday; at Florida State, Saturday
Orange were 0-3 in the ACC and reeling the last time it played UNC but since then Syracuse is 9-4 in the conference.
9. Georgia Tech (17-12, 7-9)
This week: at Louisville, Tuesday; vs. Pittsburgh, Saturday
The Yellow Jackets have won five of six, have played their way onto the fringe of the NCAA tournament bubble and might just have saved coach Brian Gregory’s job.
10. Clemson (16-12, 9-7)
This week: vs. Virginia, Tuesday; at Boston College, Saturday
Clemson needed to beat N.C. State and Georgia Tech last week to strengthen its NCAA tournament case but instead the Tigers lost both of those games.
11. Virginia Tech (15-13, 7-8)
This week: vs. Pittsburgh, Wednesday; vs. Miami, Saturday
Hokies have been difficult at home and they can play spoiler in the ACC race – especially with an upset against Miami on Saturday.
12. Florida State (17-12, 7-10)
This week: vs. Syracuse, Saturday
Victory on Saturday against Notre Dame was impressive but barring a deep ACC tournament run, it’s too little, too late for Seminoles’ NCAA tournament chances.
13. N.C. State (14-15, 4-12)
This week: vs. Boston College, Wednesday; at Notre Dame, Saturday
Cat Barber deserves some appreciation on Wednesday night in what could very well be his final home game at N.C. State.
14. Wake Forest (11-17, 2-14)
This week: at Duke, Tuesday
The good news: Wake Forest will have longer than any team to prepare for the ACC tournament. The bad news: just about everything that has happened during the past two months.
15. Boston College (7-22, 0-16)
This week: at N.C. State, Wednesday; vs. Clemson, Saturday
Just two games stand between the Eagles and the historic feat of becoming the first team to finish 0-18 in the ACC.
1. Malcolm Brogdon emerges as ACC Player of the Year frontrunner
Entering the final week of the regular season, the ACC Player of the Year race has become clearer: There’s Virginia’s Malcolm Brogdon and everyone else. Brogdon, who has averaged 18.5 points, scored 26 in leading the Cavaliers to a 79-74 victory against UNC on Saturday night.
He had a much greater effect on the game than Tar Heels’ senior forward Brice Johnson, whom Virginia held to 12 points. Things that could alter this discussion: If Johnson goes off for another one of those 39-point, 23-rebound kind of games. Or if N.C. State’s Cat Barber finishes the regular season with another pair of 30-point performances. Either one of those can happen.
2. The ACC looks like a seven-bid conference for the NCAA tournament
Virginia, UNC, Miami, Duke and Notre Dame are all locks for the tournament. Pittsburgh should be in at this point, after an important victory against Duke on Sunday. Syracuse is on solid ground. The question is whether the ACC gets more than seven teams. It never has. It likely would have this season if not for Louisville’s self-imposed postseason ban.
The ACC team with the most to gain during the final week of the regular season is probably Georgia Tech. Victories at Louisville and against Pittsburgh would get the Yellow Jackets to .500 in the conference with a 19-12 record. If it happens, they also would have won seven out of their final eight regular season games.
3. Virginia’s John Paul Jones Arena is quickly building a mystique
The Cavaliers have won 19 consecutive home games now after their victory against UNC on Saturday night amid a festive environment at John Paul Jones Arena. With one week left in the regular season, I’ve run out of time (again) to unveil my ACC arena rankings. But JPJ would probably be second, behind Louisville’s Yum Center.
Asked what made Virginia so difficult at home, UNC coach Roy Williams said it was the Cavaliers’ players. And that’s true: Virginia is tough at home mainly because it’s good. Even so, the environment there has to be worth a few points, too. It’s a loud, difficult place to play that is becoming as feared as any arena in the ACC.