#Go ACC Basketball Power Rankings: Week 14

It was nothing short of a magnificent weekend for ACC basketball fans at the top of the conference. For those who enjoy fast-paced, high-scoring action à la Michael Bay films, the Duke-Syracuse overtime thriller provided just that in a clash between two legendary programs and coaches vying for ACC supremacy. And for those of us who, in our old age, prefer viewing a more leisurely-paced game while still entertaining the prospect of a heart attack at game’s end, Virginia-Pitt was a tailor-made matchup.

After the four top-tier teams, however, the supposed toughest conference in college basketball descends into a miasma of “meh.” Though North Carolina and Maryland showed significant signs of life in the past week, Florida State and Notre Dame continue to underperform, while the remainder of the ACC’s mediocre teams seem about as interchangeable as the hack journalists who attempt to rank them.

And with that, we’ll proceed to the rankings:

15. Virginia Tech (no change)
Record: 8-13, 1-8 ACC
Last Week: 76-52 L at Boston College, 80-60 L vs. Maryland
This Week: Feb. 5 at Florida State, Feb. 8 at No. 25 Pitt

Last Wednesday may have been their best chance to tally another win this year, but instead the Hokies went to Boston College and were absolutely embarrassed in a game only a few severely masochistic people likely watched.

Freshman captain Ben Emelogu finally looked like he was fully recovered from a nagging injury, scoring 21 points against Maryland. Unfortunately for Emelogu, he fell another 21 short from willing his team to victory. Virginia Tech certainly missed C.J. Barksdale and Adam Smith, both of whom sat out last week’s games due to injury.

But I’ve never been a Hokies apologist. If they don’t turn it around soon, this eight-game losing streak could extend all the way to 17 by season’s end. I could only dream of such a world.

14. Boston College (no change)
Record: 6-15, 2-6 ACC
Last Week: 76-52 W vs. Virginia Tech, 76-73 L (OT) at Notre Dame
This Week: Feb. 5 at No. 20 Virginia, Feb. 8 vs. No. 11 Duke

I would have moved them down if I could have, because beating Virginia Tech and losing to Notre Dame should earn you no points in these rankings. If you don’t count wins against Virginia Tech — a squad I think my brother’s high school JV team could legitimately compete with — the Eagles are 4-15 and winless in the conference.

Boston College is one of the least efficient defenses in the country, forfeiting an ACC-worst 113.4 points per 100 possessions. Leading scorer Olivier Hanlan’s field goal percentage and scoring average continue to occupy the dumpster after a Black Friday-esque crash in December, and it doesn’t get any easier this week as the Eagles face Virginia and Duke.

13. Notre Dame (down 1)
Record: 12-11, 3-7 ACC
Last Week: 68-53 L vs. Virginia, 76-73 W (OT) vs. Boston College
This Week: 61-53 L at No. 1 Syracuse, Feb. 8 vs. North Carolina

The Irish played pretty well against Syracuse, holding four of the Orange’s five starters well below their season scoring averages. However — whether by accident or design — they seemed to completely ignore Trevor Cooney, the guy who leads the conference in made 3-pointers. That didn’t work out very well for the Irish, as Cooney lit them up for 33 points on 9-of-12 from beyond the arc — tying a school record for made 3-pointers in a game.

Again, this is likely a completely different game if the Irish have Jerian Grant, but unfortunately the NCAA and Notre Dame still delude themselves into believing that the concept of a student-athlete exists in major revenue sports. The Irish basketball team could really use a fake girlfriend death scandal right now to take the attention off their performance.

12. Georgia Tech (up 1)
Record: 12-11, 3-7 ACC
Last Week: 78-65 L vs. North Carolina, 79-70 W at Wake Forest
This Week: 45-41 L at Clemson, Feb. 8 vs. No. 20 Virginia

The next three to four teams are the hardest to rank because they’re just awful to watch, but not awful enough to significantly differentiate themselves from one another. Georgia Tech has a valid claim to Wake Forest’s coveted No. 11 spot as the Jackets beat the Deacs last week, but Wake gets the edge as it has performed slightly better in conference play thus far.

Honestly, these teams seem almost identical. Look at statistics, jersey colors, relevance — however you want to make your decision. I would hazard that the two are the hardest pair of teams to rank in the entire conference. This race could come down to the wire and with Boston College and Virginia Tech remaining on the schedule, the Ramblin’ Wreck has a legitimate shot to overtake the Demon Deacons.

11. Wake Forest (down 1)
Record: 14-9, 4-6 ACC
Last Week: 67-57 L vs. No. 2 Syracuse, 79-70 L vs. Georgia Tech
This Week: 83-63 L vs. No. 11 Duke

See above.

10. Miami (down 1)
Record: 11-10, 2-6 ACC
Last Week: 74-71 L at Maryland, 64-49 W vs. Norfolk State
This Week: Feb. 5 vs. No. 25 Pitt, Feb. 8 vs. NC State

Beating Norfolk State — one of two MEAC teams with winning records — is akin to beating Virginia Tech in these rankings in that it will earn you zero points. And to be fair, I bet even the Hokies could post a winning record in the MEAC.

But ignoring the question of why the ‘Canes are playing a random non-conference game in the thick of the ACC season, they looked decent against a suddenly-hot Maryland team and could be the trap game down the stretch that ruins a team fighting for NCAA Tournament consideration — I really believe they have that in them.

9. Florida State (down 4)
Record: 13-8, 4-5 ACC
Last Week: 74-70 L at NC State, 53-49 L vs. Clemson
This Week: Feb. 5 vs. Virginia Tech, Feb. 8 at Maryland

The Seminoles have three seven-footers on their team — two now that Kiel Turpin will apply for a medical redshirt after missing the entire season due to a knee injury. And when 17 percent of American men seven feet or taller play in the NBA during their lifetime, you figure there has to be more talent on this team than its record shows.

Jameis Winston was named a Third-Team Preseason All-American by Baseball America Monday — how neat. Maybe the reigning Heisman Trophy-winner can walk on to the basketball team and salvage its season as well.

8. Maryland (up 3)
Record: 13-10, 5-5 ACC
Last Week: 74-71 W vs. Miami, 80-60 W at Virginia Tech
This Week: 75-63 L at North Carolina, Feb. 8 vs. Florida State

Like the Jeffersons, the Dirty Terps are movin’ on up. I realize I’m going against the conventional wisdom of rewarding a team for beating Virginia Tech, but Maryland looked good in its past two games after falling to Pitt the week before in a sloppy affair.

Seth Allen’s return to the point continues to improve this team, which booked 15 assists in each of its games last week. Allen hasn’t turned the ball over more than twice in a game this season, and sometimes that’s all it takes to compete with a majority of the ACC.

7. Clemson (up 1)
Record: 15-6, 6-3 ACC
Last Week: 80-61 L at North Carolina, 53-49 W at Florida State
This Week: 45-41 W vs. Georgia Tech, Feb. 9 at No. 1 Syracuse

Clemson’s bump in the rankings isn’t due to its own competence as much as it is to Florida State’s incompetence. The Tigers did manage to not blow a second-half lead against the Seminoles as K.J. McDaniels singlehandedly willed Clemson to victory once again, scoring 26 points — almost half of his team’s total.

Still, Clemson ranks second nationally in scoring defense at 55.8 points per game behind only the ‘Hoos and if there’s anything I hold dear in this world as a former scrappy, undersized white basketball player, it’s defense. Respect.

6. North Carolina State (up 1)
Record: 14-8, 4-5 ACC
Last Week: 74-70 W vs. Florida State, 84-70 L at North Carolina
This Week: Feb. 8 at Miami

The Wolfpack, similar to Clemson, are stuck in ACC basketball purgatory — not elite, but not quite awful. They too beat the Seminoles by four points behind a huge offensive outburst from their leading scorer — ACC-leading scorer T.J. Warren dropped 30 points, kind of like Kevin Durant but on a one-game basis.

NC State is competitive, but it’s hard to beat good teams when you give up an ACC-worst 14.6 offensive rebounds per game in conference play. It’s like handing the other team free points, and that’s not a principle this great nation was founded upon.

5. North Carolina (up 1)
Record: 15-7, 5-4 ACC
Last Week: 78-65 W at Georgia Tech, 84-70 W vs. NC State
This Week: 75-63 W vs. Maryland, Feb. 8 at Notre Dame

A little tardy to the party, but only nerds like Duke who actually go to class show up on time anyways, right guys? Jocks rule!

Seriously though, what a difference a couple of weeks makes. The Heels are finally playing like a team that has players with NBA-caliber talent. Their three consecutive double-digit victories after an embarrassing loss are reminiscent of Virginia’s journey this year following its game at Tennessee. At this rate, Carolina could be a dark horse ACC Tournament Champion candidate.

My only regret is that they can’t read this praise I’ve bestowed upon them. (This joke is now played out, I know).

4. No. 25 Pittsburgh (down 1)
Record: 18-4, 6-3 ACC
Last Week: 80-65 L vs. No. 17 Duke, 48-45 L vs. Virginia
This Week: Feb. 5 at Miami, Feb. 8 vs. Virginia Tech

Welcome to the ACC, rookies. No matter how many conference games or even titles Syracuse or Pitt win, I will never fully acknowledge them as members of the ACC, much in the same way that I refuse to recognize the New Orleans Pelicans and their demonic mascot Pierre as members of the NBA’s Western Conference.

The former Big East program finally suffered its first and second ACC losses of the season — no, Syracuse doesn’t count — and both in the same week. Long live the ACC.

3. No. 20 Virginia (up 1)
Record: 17-5, 8-1 ACC
Last Week: 68-53 W at Notre Dame, 48-45 W at No. 18 Pitt
This Week: Feb. 5 vs. Boston College, Feb. 8 at Georgia Tech

Finally a game-winning 3-pointer that goes our way, am I right?

2. No. 11 Duke (no change)
Record: 18-5, 7-3 ACC
Last Week: 80-65 W at No. 18 Pitt, 91-89 L (OT) at No. 1 Syracuse
This Week: 83-63 W vs. Wake Forest, Feb. 8 at Boston College

Duke lives and dies by the three and boy, have they been living large lately. Andre Dawkins is shooting an astronomical 47.2 percent from beyond the arc, including a 6-of-7 day from downtown in the Blue Devils’ romp over Pitt. And thank goodness for the one-and-done system so we won’t have to see Jabari Parker for much longer; I can’t imagine how dominant he’d be given another year or two.

This team is like a gang of cockroaches — you just can’t get rid of them. Rasheed Sulaimon’s overtime-inducing 3-pointer against Syracuse caused traumatic flashbacks to last month at Cameron Indoor, but ultimately the Orange succeeded in eliminating the pesky Devils where Virginia could not.

1. No. 1 Syracuse (no change)
Record: 22-0, 9-0 ACC
Last Week: 67-57 W at Wake Forest, 91-89 W (OT) vs. No. 17 Duke
This Week: 61-55 W vs. Notre Dame, Feb. 9 vs. Clemson

It’s not always pretty, but the Orange always find a way to win — so far. They’re not going to shoot anyone out of the gym, but like the Cavaliers they possess an efficient freshman point guard in Tyler Ennis and their success is predicated on defense.

If you enjoy dazzling, high-scoring affairs, I encourage you to steer clear of Charlottesville March 1. The Syracuse-Virginia game is shaping up to be more of a “Bump N’ Grind” affair than an “Ignition (Remix)” reprise. And I don’t see nothin’ wrong with a little bump and grind.


Published February 4, 2014 in FP test, Sports

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