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. Duke (20-5, 8-4)
Last week: W vs. North Carolina 86-78; W vs. Clemson 64-62
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This week: at Virginia, Wednesday; vs. Wake Forest, Saturday
The Blue Devils own the longest winning streak in the ACC, at five consecutive victories. Turns out that loss against N.C. State on Jan. 23 was a turning point – just not in the way anyone expected for both teams.
2. North Carolina (21-5, 9-3)
Last week:L at Duke, 86-78
This week: at N.C. State, Wednesday; vs. Virginia, Saturday
Remember when the Tar Heels were a top-10 defensive team, nationally, according to kenpom.com? As of Sunday they ranked 44th in defensive efficiency. It’s a slide they have to reverse.
3. Virginia (18-6, 8-4)
Last week: W vs. Louisville 71-55; L at Virginia Tech 80-78 (2OT)
This week: vs. Duke, Wednesday; at North Carolina, Saturday
Virginia has lost three out of five since a five-game winning streak, and those three losses include two conference games on the road by a combined six points. Four of final six are at home.
4. Louisville (20-5, 8-4)
Last week: L at Virginia 71-55; W vs. Miami 71-66
This week: at Syracuse, Monday; vs. Virginia Tech, Saturday
The Cardinals are 1-4 against teams with winning ACC records; not a good omen given four of their final six games are against such teams.
5. Florida State (21-5; 9-4)
Last week: W vs. N.C. State 95-71; L at Notre Dame 84-72
This week: at Pittsburgh, Saturday
Just think: if the Seminoles hadn't stumbled on the road at Georgia Tech – or at UNC, Notre Dame or Syracuse, for that matter – they'd be in first place. Three of final five are on the road.
6. Notre Dame (19-7, 8-5)
Last week: W vs. Wake Forest 88-81; W vs. Florida State 84-72
This week: at Boston College, Tuesday; at N.C. State, Saturday
Going on the road is never easy in this league, but it's about as it gets this week for the Fighting Irish, which goes to Boston College before traveling to hapless N.C. State.
7. Syracuse (16-10, 8-5)
Last week: W at Clemson 82-81; L at Pittsburgh 80-75
This week: vs. Louisville, Monday; at Georgia Tech, Sunday
All five of the Orange's ACC losses have come away from the Carrier Dome, and so splitting two games on the road last week is a small victory. Two more wins probably seals an NCAA bid.
8. Wake Forest (15-10, 6-7)
Last week: L at Nore Dame 88-81; W vs. N.C. State 88-58
This week: at Clemson, Tuesday; at Duke, Saturday
What an accomplishment it would be for Danny Manning and Co. if the Demon Deacons made the NCAA tournament. There's work to be done, but a bid is in sight.
9. Miami (16-8, 6-6)
Last week: W vs. Virginia Tech 74-68; L at Louisville 71-66
This week: vs. Georgia Tech, Wednesday; vs. Clemson, Saturday
The next two, both at home, are practically must wins given what comes after: at Virginia, at home against Duke and two road games to close the regular season.
10. Virginia Tech (17-7, 6-6)
Last week: L at Miami 74-68; W vs. Virginia 80-78
This week: at Pittsburgh, Tuesday; at Louisville, Saturday
The Hokies played a poor non-conference schedule, and so they're especially reliant on their conference achievements to build an NCAA tournament case. A .500 finish probably won't cut it.
11. Georgia Tech (15-10, 6-6)
Last week: W vs. Tusculum 96-58; W vs. Boston College 65-54
This week: at Miami, Wednesday; vs. Syracuse, Sunday
Some thought it might take Josh Pastner two years, at least, to win six ACC games, and here Georgia Tech is. A .500 finish in conference is within reach, as well – and maybe an NCAA tournament bid.
12. Clemson (13-11, 3-9)
Last week: L vs. Syracuse 82-81; L at Duke 64-62
This week: vs. Wake Forest, Tuesday; at Miami, Saturday
How unlucky is Clemson? Such things are quantifiable nowadays. The Tigers are the nation's 265th luckiest team, according to kenpom.com. Six of their ACC losses have been by five points or less.
13. Pittsburgh (14-11, 3-9)
Last week: W at Boston College 83-72; W vs. Syracuse 80-75
This week: vs. Virginia Tech, Tuesday; W vs. Florida State, Saturday
Been a long season for the Panthers but say this: They haven't given up, and now they have their first winning streak since December.
14. Boston College (9-17, 2-11)
Last week: L vs. Pittsburgh 83-72, Wednesday; L at Georgia Tech 65-54, Saturday
This week: vs. Notre Dame, Tuesday; at Florida State, Monday
Make it nine consecutive losses for Boston College since its victory against N.C. State on Jan. 11, but at least the Eagles have been competitive more often than not.
15. N.C. State (14-12, 3-10)
Last week: L at Florida State 95-71; L at Wake Forest 88-58
This week: vs. North Carolina, Wednesday; vs. Notre Dame, Saturday
What to say about the Wolfpack that hasn't already been said many times before? The 30-point loss at Wake Forest on Saturday spoke for itself.