UNC Now

ACC power rankings: Jan. 29, 2017

UNC coach Roy Williams was happy on Thursday during the Tar Heels’ victory against Virginia Tech, but considerably less so by Sunday afternoon after a defeat at Miami.
UNC coach Roy Williams was happy on Thursday during the Tar Heels’ victory against Virginia Tech, but considerably less so by Sunday afternoon after a defeat at Miami. 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. Virginia (16-4, 6-2)

Previous: 4

Last week: W at Notre Dame 71-54; L at Villanova 61-59

This week: vs. Virginia Tech, Wednesday; at Syracuse, Sunday

Slow and steady wins the race, or something like that and, indeed, for better or worse Virginia is literally slower and steadier than any team in the country – and right back near the top of the ACC.

2. Louisville (18-4, 6-3)

Previous: 5

Last week: W at Pittsburgh 106-51; W vs. N.C. State 85-60

This week: at Boston College, Saturday

It was like playing a basketball video game on easy mode for the Cardinals last week. Their average margin of victory in two ACC games: 40 points. Time to ramp up the difficulty level.

3. North Carolina (19-4, 7-2)

Previous: 1

Last week: W vs. Virginia Tech 91-72; L at Miami 77-62

This week: vs. Pittsburgh, Tuesday; vs. Notre Dame, Saturday

The Tar Heels are going to be OK but the lack of success against good zones (and Syracuse's isn't, this season) is concerning. More so: Theo Pinson's long-term health status. UNC needs him.

4. Florida State (18-4, 6-3)

Previous: 2

Last week: L at Georgia Tech 78-56; L at Syracuse 82-72

This week: at Miami, Wednesday; vs. Clemson, Sunday

Last week in this space was a question: Can the Seminoles avoid upsets on the road? We have our answer. Florida State is 5-0 at home but 1-3 on the road – and it remains there, at Miami.

5. Notre Dame (17-5, 6-3 ACC)

Previous: 3

Last week: L vs. Virginia 71-54; L at Georgia Tech 62-60

This week: vs. Duke, Monday; at North Carolina, Saturday

Ah, yes: back-to-back games for the Fighting Irish against Duke and UNC. Few things have to excite (and motivate) Mike Brey more than preparing for those two teams.

6. Georgia Tech (13-8, 5-4)

Previous: 9

Last week: W vs. Florida State 78-56; W vs. Notre Dame 62-60

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

What a week last week for the Yellow Jackets, who from a cute story to: “Whoa – these guys can make the tournament!” The next two are on the road, though, so let's wait and see.

7. Syracuse (13-9, 5-4)

Previous: 10

Last week: W vs. Wake Forest 81-76; W vs. Florida State 82-72

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

No team in the ACC has a more home-road split personality. The Orange are undefeated in league play at home, and winless on the road. Does that change on Wednesday at N.C. State?

8. Duke (16-5, 4-4)

Previous: 6

Last week: L vs. N.C. State 84-82; W at Wake Forest 85-83

This week: at Notre Dame, Monday; vs. Pittsburgh, Saturday

Maybe that motivational ploy of being kicked out of the locker room worked, given the dramatic win at Wake Forest. You know what else works? Building the offense around Luke Kennard.

9. Miami (14-6, 4-4)

Previous: 11

Last week: W at Boston College 78-77; W vs. North Carolina 77-62

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

The Hurricanes have lost only one home ACC game since the start of last season, and after a slow start on Saturday they more or less had their way with UNC the rest of the way.

10. Virginia Tech (16-5, 5-4)

Previous: 7

Last week: L at North Carolina 91-72; W vs. Boston College 85-79

This week: at Virginia, Wednesday

The upcoming three-game stretch for the Hokies is none two kind, with two games against Virginia – an odd quirk, that is – and the middle game at Miami.

11. Wake Forest (12-9, 3-6)

Previous: 8

Last week: L at Syracuse 81-76; L vs. Duke 85-83

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

Nothing is easy in the ACC – home or away – but this is a favorable week for Wake Forest to make a move and work its way to the right side of the NCAA tournament bubble.

12. Clemson (12-8, 2-6)

Previous: 13

Last week: W at Pittsburgh 67-60

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

It wasn't pretty but the victory at Pitt on Saturday was a start, at least, in Clemson's quest to climb out of the deep hole it has dug itself. Georgia Tech at home is a must-win for the Tigers on Wednesday.

13. N.C. State (14-8, 3-6)

Previous: 14

Last week: W at Duke, 84-82; L at Louisville 85-60

This week: vs. Syracuse, Wednesday; vs. Miami, Saturday

Two steps forward for the Wolfpack, winning at Duke for the first time in 22 years. And then two back, at least, with another lopsided road defeated. What to make of this team?

14. Boston College (9-13, 2-7)

Previous: 12

Last week: L at Miami 78-77; L at Virginia Tech 85-79

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

Make it five consecutive losses for the Eagles after that surprising 2-2 start, but they're immensely more competitive than they were a season ago.

15. Pittsburgh (12-9, 1-7)

Previous: 15

Last week: L vs. Louisville 106-51; L vs. Clemson 67-60

This week: at North Carolina, Tuesday; at Duke, Saturday

Kevin Stallings' debut season in Pittsburgh is … not going well. Road trips to UNC and Duke this week isn't exactly a formula to end the misery, either.

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