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. North Carolina (18-3, 6-1 ACC)
Last week: W vs. Syracuse 85-68; W at Boston College 90-82
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The News & Observer
This week: vs. Virginia Tech, Thursday; at Miami, Saturday
You can make a case for both Florida State and Notre Dame for No. 1 in these rankings, but the Tar Heels have it, for right now, by virtue of their six-game winning streak – the ACC's longest.
2. Florida State (18-2, 6-1)
Last week: W vs. Notre Dame 83-80; W vs. Louisville 73-68
This week: at Georgia Tech, Wednesday; at Syracuse, Saturday
The Seminoles arguably had the best week of any team in the country last week, with victories against Notre Dame and Louisville, but four of the next six are on the road. Now the question is if FSU can avoid upsets.
3. Notre Dame (17-3, 6-1)
Last week: L at Florida State 83-80; W vs. Syracuse 84-66
This week: vs. Virginia, Tuesday; at Georgia Tech, Saturday
Fighting Irish move down a couple of spots, but there's no shame in narrowly losing at Florida State – and Notre Dame has good company, too, in the three-way tie atop the league standings.
4. Virginia (15-3, 5-2)
Last week: W at Boston College 71-54; W vs. Georgia Tech 62-49
This week: at Notre Dame, Tuesday; at Villanova, Sunday
The Cavaliers have won four straight but remain in that next tier among the contenders for the ACC regular season championship. That can change, though, with a victory at Notre Dame.
5. Louisville (16-4, 4-3)
Last week: W vs. Clemson 92-60; L at Florida State 73-60
This week: at Pittsburgh, Tuesday; vs. N.C. State, Sunday
Point guard Quentin Snider could be out another two weeks with a hip injury but the schedule is relatively kind – at Pitt, vs. N.C. State, at Boston College – until going to Virginia on Feb. 6.
6. Duke (15-4, 3-3)
Last week: W vs. Miami 70-58
This week: vs. N.C. State, Monday; at Wake Forest, Saturday
At one point on Saturday, Duke was outscoring Miami by 33 points in the second half. After trailing by 11 at halftime, those could be a season-turning 20 minutes for the Blue Devils.
7. Virginia Tech (15-4, 4-3)
Last week: W vs. Georgia Tech, 62-61; W at Clemson 82-81
This week: at North Carolina; Thursday; vs. Boston College, Sunday
The Hokies since the 2013-14 season have won five ACC games on the road – four of them in the past season and a half or so, including the one on Sunday night at Clemson.
8. Wake Forest (12-7, 3-4)
Last week: W vs. Miami 96-79; W at N.C. State 93-88
This week: at Syracuse, Tuesday; vs. Duke, Saturday
The Demon Deacons make the largest jump in these esteemed power rankings, up six spots after their two-victory week, which included their first ACC road win in … almost three years.
9. Georgia Tech (11-8, 3-4)
Last week: L at Virginia Tech 62-61; L at Virginia 62-49
This week: vs. Florida State, Wednesday; vs. Notre Dame, Saturday
The respite from a difficult trip into the Commonwealth of Virginia are two home games against two of the best teams in the conference, but remember: the Yellow Jackets did beat UNC in Atlanta.
10. Syracuse (11-9, 3-4)
Last week: L at North Carolina 85-68; L at Notre Dame 84-66
This week: vs. Wake Forest, Tuesday; vs. Florida State, Saturday
The Orange is 0-4 on the road in the ACC, and none of those four defeats have been particularly close. The good news for Syracuse: three of the next four are in the Carrier Dome.
11. Miami (12-6, 2-4)
Last week: L at Wake Forest, 96-79; L at Duke 70-58
This week: vs. Boston College, Wednesday; vs. North Carolina, Saturday
The second-half meltdown at Duke is the kind of thing that can quickly turn a season in the wrong direction, but the Hurricanes do have three consecutive home games upcoming.
12. Boston College (9-11, 2-5)
Last week: L vs. Virginia; 71-54; L vs. North Carolina 90-82
This week: at Miami, Wednesday; at Virginia Tech, Sunday
It's going to be another long conference season for the Eagles but they really are better thanks to its young backcourt of Jerome Robinson and Ky Bowman, two North Carolina natives.
13. Clemson (11-8, 1-6)
Last week: L at Louisville 92-60; L vs. Virginia Tech 82-81
This week: at Pittsburgh, Saturday
The Tigers have lost six consecutive games but that includes three home losses by a combined eight points. Clemson's misery began with that overtime defeat against UNC on Jan. 3.This isn’t a bad team.
14. N.C. State (13-7, 2-5)
Last week: W vs. Pittsburgh 79-74; L vs. Wake Forest 93-88
This week: at Duke, Monday; at Louisville, Sunday
Some controversial calls, indeed, toward the end of that loss against Wake Forest – but to N.C. State fans the officiating can't be as offensive as the Wolfpack's defense.
15. Pittsburgh (12-7, 1-5)
Last week: L at N.C. State 79-74
This week: vs. Louisville, Tuesday; vs. Clemson, Saturday
Michael Young and Jamel Artis should be one of the best pairs in the ACC but the Panthers are coming off of a couple of stinkers, including a 26-point home loss against Miami before the defeat at N.C. State.