Sports

That Kentucky win was great, but Duke is still not No. 1 in this week’s ACC power rankings

So many angry emails and tweets about “The Only* ACC Power Rankings That Matter” and questioning my sanity since Duke’s season-opening destruction of Kentucky last Tuesday.

I had no idea beating Kentucky was that important. Nor was I aware that the “Champions Classic” determined the entire course of the college basketball season.

My bad.

Obviously, Duke was impressive in destroying Kentucky, 118-84. The win vaulted the Blue Devils, No. 4 in the preseason top 25, to No. 1 this week.

Zion Williamson is preposterously talented and every bit as good as advertised. R.J. Barrett might be even better.

Good for Duke. Bad for me, I guess. I’ll stick with my first answer here, though, because I’m stubborn. And because North Carolina looks pretty good, too.

Remember, the premise of the pick is UNC’s veteran parts will be the difference, over an 18-game ACC schedule, over Duke’s talented yet inexperienced players.

Also, remember, things five-star, McDonald’s All-Americans love to do: play in the spotlight against other five-star McDonald’s All-Americans on ESPN with 8 gazillion NBA scouts in attendance.

Things five-star, McDonald’s All-Americans don’t always love to do or quite understand yet: how to bring the same energy on a Tuesday night in Charlottesville, Va., or Tallahassee, Fla., against a relatively anonymous opposing roster.

The best news for all involved, it will be settled on the court.

Keep those emails (jgiglio@newsobserver.com) and tweets coming (@jwgiglio) just in case.

On to the “Only* ACC Power Rankings That Matter:”

1. UNC

Record: 3-0

This week: Stanford (W, 90-72), Tennessee Tech (Friday)

I could be wrong but Nassir Little’s performance at Elon (21 points and 7 rebounds in 20 minutes) felt like a direct response to all of the hype about Duke’s freshmen.

2. Virginia

Record: 2-0

This week: Coppin State (Friday)

Love that Maryland is UVA’s Big Ten Challenge matchup (Nov. 28). That’s basically the Wahoos’ season-opener.

3. Duke

Record: 2-0

This week: Army (W, 94-72), Eastern Michigan (Wednesday)

So Army is better than Kentucky. That’s how overreactions work, right?

4. Syracuse

Record: 2-0

This week: UConn (Thursday), Iowa/Oregon (Friday)

Great week in New York for Syracuse football (Notre Dame at Yankee Stadium) and hoops (two games at Madison Square Garden).

5. Florida State

Record: 2-0

This week: Tulane (W, 80-69)

Made quick work of the Gators (81-60) in the opener. Next hurdle isn’t until Purdue comes to town for the Big Ten Challenge.

6. Clemson

Record: 2-0

This week: Sam Houston State (Wednesday)

At least somebody in the ACC is willing to play N.C. Central. Good on Brad Brownell.

7. NC State

Record: 2-0

This week: UNC-Asheville (Tuesday), Maine (Saturday)

The return of Braxton Beverly from injury helps. Not sure what to make of the loss of Ian Steere (transfer) after one game.

8. Virginia Tech

Record: 1-0

This week: Ball State (Thursday), Alabama/Northeastern (Friday)

Still missing Chris Clarke (suspension) and freshman Landers Nolley (NCAA issues) and no clarity on either topic from coach Buzz Williams.

9. Miami

Record: 1-0

This week: Stephen F. Austin (Tuesday), Bethune-Cookman (Saturday)

Miami’s schedule is boring but sign me up for the Chris Lykes-Chris Clemons (Campbell) matchup on Dec. 29.

10. Notre Dame

Record: 2-0

This week: Radford (Wednesday), William & Mary (Saturday)

With Notre Dame’s football team on track for the College Football Playoffs, Mike Brey’s team is relegated to the shadows.

11. Boston College

Record: 2-0

This week: IUPUI (Wednesday)

The Eagles know how to recruit good guards. A promising start by freshman Wynston Tabbs (15.5 points per game).

12. Louisville

Record: 1-0

This week: Southern (Tuesday), Vermont (Friday)

You don’t get many, pressure-free, rebuilding years. Chris Mack should try and enjoy this one.

13. Pittsburgh

Record: 3-0

This week: Troy (W, 84-75), Central Arkansas (Thursday), North Alabama (Saturday)

Quick start for my “surprise” team. Jeff Capel might have a keeper in freshman point guard Xavier Johnson.

14. Wake Forest

Record: 1-0

This week: St. Joseph’s (Thursday), UCF/CS-Fullerton (Friday)

Hopefully for Danny Manning’s sake, Jaylen Hoard won’t be too good, too fast. He was pretty stout (19 points, 13 rebounds) in the opener.

15. Georgia Tech

Record: 1-0

This week: Tennessee (Tuesday), ECU (Friday)

Perfectly acceptable start, an 88-69 win over Lamar, for the Yellow Jackets.

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