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ACC power rankings: Jan. 15, 2017

UNC junior forward Theo Pinson reacts after his memorable dunk on Saturday, when the Tar Heels’ victory against Florida State vaulted UNC to No. 2 in the weekly ACC power rankings.
UNC junior forward Theo Pinson reacts after his memorable dunk on Saturday, when the Tar Heels’ victory against Florida State vaulted UNC to No. 2 in the weekly ACC power rankings. rwillett@newsobserver.com

Each Sunday during the ACC regular season, we'll rank the conference's teams one through 15. This isn't a ranking of the best teams, necessarily, but one more reflective of current trends and direction. Let's get to it:

1. Notre Dame (16-2, 5-0 ACC)

Last week: W at Miami 67-62; W at Virginia Tech 76-71

This week: at Florida State, Wednesday; vs. Syracuse, Saturday

Time to believe in the Fighting Irish, which sneakily might just legitimately be the best team – and we're not talking individual talent here – in the ACC.

2. North Carolina (16-3, 4-1)

Last week: W at Wake Forest 93-87; W vs. Florida State 96-83

This week: vs. Syracuse, Monday; at Boston College, Saturday

Did you see Theo Pinson’s dunk the other day? Have you seen the perimeter shooting from Justin Jackson and Joel Berry? Can you see another Final Four run? You might, if the Tar Heels keep playing like they did Saturday against the Seminoles..

3. Florida State (16-2, 4-1)

Last week: W vs. Duke 88-72; L at UNC 96-83

This week: vs. Notre Dame, Wednesday; vs. Louisville, Saturday

Huge week this week for the Seminoles, who can truly announce their arrival as a national contender – if they haven't already – with home wins against Notre Dame and Louisville.

4. Virginia (13-3, 3-2)

Last week: W at Clemson 77-73

This week: at Boston College, Wednesday; vs. Georgia Tech, Saturday

Did you know that the home loss against Florida State on the first day of conference play was only the Cavaliers second home conference loss since the 2013-14 season?

5. Louisville (15-3, 3-2)

Last week: W vs. Pittsburgh 85-80; W vs. Duke 78-69

This week: vs. Clemson, Thursday; at Florida State, Saturday

Cardinals face a difficult Thursday-to-Saturday swing, but there are more daunting places to go on the road in this conference than Florida State’s Tucker Center, which should be lively come Saturday.

6. Georgia Tech (11-6, 3-2)

Last week: W vs. Clemson 75-63; W at N.C. State 86-76

This week: at Virginia Tech, Wednesday; at Virginia, Saturday

Yes, Georgia Tech lost against Duke by 53 points. Yes, I have Georgia Tech ranked higher than Duke. No, this can’t possibly last. Still, embrace the ACC's biggest surprise (positive surprise, that is) while it does continue.

7. Duke (14-4, 2-3)

Last week: L at Florida State 88-72; L at Louisville 78-69

This week: vs. Miami, Saturday

The Blue Devils have some downtime this week to solve what ails them, and on the outside looking in it looks like the pieces, great as they are, just aren't fitting together properly.

8. Syracuse (11-7, 3-2)

Last week: L at Virginia Tech 83-73; W vs. Boston College 76-53

This week: at UNC, Monday; at Notre Dame, Saturday

Congratulations, Orange: You've won three of four after opening ACC play with a dreadful loss at Boston College. Your reward: road games at UNC and Notre Dame this week.

9. Miami (12-4, 2-2)

Last week: L at Notre Dame 67-62; W at Pittsburgh 72-46

This week: at Wake Forest, Wednesday; at Duke, Saturday

The Hurricanes have been stout defensively – no ACC team has scored more than 63 points against Miami in four games – but they have some things to figure out offensively.

10. Virginia Tech (13-4, 2-3)

Last week: W vs. Syracuse 83-73; L vs. Notre Dame 76-71

This week: vs. Georgia Tech, Wednesday; at Clemson, Sunday

The Hokies have won four road ACC games since 2013-14 which, believe it or not, is not the worst road record in the league during that span.

11. Boston College (9-9, 2-3)

Last week: W vs. N.C. State 74-66; L at Syracuse 76-53

This week: vs. Virginia, Wednesday; vs. UNC, Saturday

Two of the favorites to win the ACC visit Conte Forum this week, which should do wonders for ticket sales and college basketball enthusiasm in the greater Bost-- … Ah, probably not.

12. Pittsburgh (12-6, 1-4)

Last week: L at Louisville 85-80; L vs. Miami 72-46

This week: at N.C. State, Tuesday

You want to think more highly of the Panthers, who have beaten Virginia, after all, but Pitt just lost by 26 against Miami – and at home, no less.

13. Clemson (11-6, 1-4)

Last week: L at Georgia Tech 75-63; L vs. Virginia 77-73

This week: at Louisville, Thursday; vs. Virginia Tech, Sunday

Clemson is No. 28 nationally according to kenpom.com and 13th in the most reputable ACC power rankings you'll find anywhere – goes to show how difficult this league is.

14. Wake Forest (10-7, 1-4)

Last week: L at Virginia 79-62; L vs. UNC 93-87

This week: vs. Miami, Wednesday; at N.C. State, Saturday

If you think N.C. State fans are mad now, just imagine if Wake Forest ends a 25-game ACC road losing streak in Raleigh on Saturday.

15. N.C. State (12-6, 1-4)

Last week: L at Boston College 74-66; L vs. Georgia Tech 86-76

This week: vs. Pittsburgh, Tuesday; vs. Wake Forest, Saturday

N.C. State is the capable but troubled kid who's smart enough to make straight A's but doesn't apply himself and brings home a report card of D's and F's. What is going on here?

Andrew Carter: 919-829-8944, @_andrewcarter

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