If you’re a fan of Virginia and #GoACC basketball, you’ve got to like where we are on the calendar. The Cavaliers take on Tech Tuesday, in a month the Verizon Center hosts the ACC tourney and March Madness gets going soon after that. What’s more, we have only three weeks until The Big Game — which is to say, Virginia against North Carolina. Who’s the best team in the conference? On Feb. 27, we might just find out.
This week’s rankings, from No. 15 to No. 1:
15. Boston College (no change)
Record: 7-16 (0-10 ACC)
Last week: 47-61 L at No. 7 Virginia, 47-79 L at No. 19 Louisville
This week: Feb. 9 vs. No. 9 North Carolina, Feb. 14 vs. Syracuse
I’ll keep this one short, because right now, the Eagles just can’t fly. Boston College last played a single-digit ballgame Dec. 30 against New Hampshire, winning by five in OT. Then, ACC play began. You know the rest.
14. Wake Forest (no change)
Record: 10-13 (1-10 ACC)
Last week: 62-76 L vs. Clemson, 71-91 L vs. Florida State
This week: Feb. 10 at Georgia Tech, Feb. 13 at NC State
Tim Duncan played here. Timmy D, The Big Fundamental, The Onion’s favorite NBAer. Tim Duncan is what I like best about this Wake Forest team — the fact Mr. Bank Shot and everyone’s best-liked Spur is an alum.
I say that for two reasons: Tim Duncan is the man and the current Demon Deacons have been pretty punchless of late.
My other favorite thing about Wake: Virginia turned its season around in Winston-Salem.
13. NC State (no change)
Record: 12-12 (2-9 ACC)
Last week: 73-77 L at Florida State, 80-88 L at Duke
This week: Feb. 13 vs. Wake Forest
Let’s play word association. First word — NC State. Response? Cat Barber. Second word — Cat Barber. Response? NC State.
Peanut butter and jelly, cookies and milk, Barber and State? You know, some things just go together.
And yes, “let’s play” was pretty misleading, seeing as I just played by myself. Apologies.
12. Georgia Tech (no change)
Record: 12-11 (2-8 ACC)
Last week: 71-80 L vs. Duke, 68-75 L vs. No. 17 Miami
This week: Feb. 10 vs. Wake Forest, Feb. 13 at Clemson
I’m a fan of Georgia Tech and just can’t help it. These guys have two wins in ACC play, but no one is blowing them out. The Yellow Jackets have yet to lose a conference game by double figures, and half of their ACC losses have come by five points or fewer. Georgia Tech kept on competing last week against Duke and Miami, taking nine- and seven-point losses at home.
11. Virginia Tech (no change)
Record: 13-11 (5-6 ACC)
Last week: 60-68 (OT) L at Syracuse, 60-57 W vs. Clemson
This week: Feb. 9 vs. No. 7 Virginia
It’s almost time, people. Tomorrow, the Hokies visit Charlottesville and Virginia gets its second chance. As long as Zach LeDay doesn’t go off for three triples again — he’s made 15 all season — I’m thinking the home team prevails. The Cavaliers haven’t lost at John Paul Jones Arena all year, and you have to think Coach Bennett and company are still upset about last month’s performance in Blacksburg.
10. Clemson (no change)
Record: 14-10 (7-5 ACC)
Last week: 76-62 W at Wake Forest, 57-60 L at Virginia Tech
This week: 83-89 L vs. Notre Dame, Feb. 13 vs. Georgia Tech
The most encouraging thing about the Tigers’ loss to Virginia Tech — if we can speak of anything encouraging about that game — might’ve been Landry Nnoko’s 17-point, 12-rebound, eight-block tour de force. Hampered by foul trouble, Nnoko played just 19 minutes combined against Wake Forest and Florida State. Clemson must like having its best big man stay on the floor.
9. Florida State (no change)
Record: 16-7 (6-5 ACC)
Last week: 77-73 W vs. NC State, 91-71 W at Wake Forest
This week: Feb. 11 at Syracuse, Feb. 17 vs. No. 12 Miami
On Jan. 23, the Seminoles sported a 12-7 record to go with a 2-5 mark in ACC play. Although their season seemed in free fall then, it’s presently rising high. Florida State has captured four consecutive conference games heading into a Thursday night matchup at the Carrier Dome. The ‘Noles earlier struggles, it seems, were at least partly the product of tough ACC opponents — Virginia, Carolina and Louisville among them.
8. Syracuse (down 1)
Record: 16-8 (6-5 ACC)
Last week: 68-60 (OT) W vs. Virginia Tech
This week: Feb. 11 vs. Florida State, Feb. 14 at Boston College
You might remember Kay Felder — Oakland’s diminutive and highly talented floor general — from his 30-point performance against Virginia earlier this year. But right now, I’d like to introduce you to Syracuse’s Ky Feldman — a freshman guard from Agoura Hills, Calif. Feldman’s no Felder just yet, but with the closeness of their names, I’m expecting big things from the Orange’s young reserve.
On a more serious note, Michael Gbinije must be one of the more improved players in the ACC. His scoring average is up to 17.2 points per game this season, and the senior from Richmond is shooting 67.3 percent from the foul line, which isn’t stellar but represents a significant leap from his 58.3 mark last year.
7. Pittsburgh (down 3)
Record: 17-5 (5-4 ACC)
Last week: 50-64 L vs. No. 9 Virginia
This week: Feb. 9 at No. 12 Miami, Feb. 14 at No. 9 North Carolina
The Panthers — I think — officially have reason to worry. In recent weeks they’ve lost big at Louisville while failing to defend home court against Virginia and NC State, and this week they’re traveling to Miami and Carolina. Losses there would drop Pitt to 5-6 in conference play.
One thing the Panthers can always fall back on is their free-throw shooting. Pitt’s 77 percent mark from the foul line is fourth best in Division I. Guard Sterling Smith is especially ice-veined at 91.7 percent.
6. Duke (up 2)
Record: 18-6 (7-4 ACC)
Last week: 80-71 W at Georgia Tech, 88-80 W vs. NC State
This week: 72-65 W vs. Louisville, Feb. 13 vs. No. 7 Virginia
The Blue Devils’ win against Louisville came on the strength of a balanced attack, as five players — Grayson Allen, Brandon Ingram, Luke Kennard, Marshall Plumlee and Matt Jones — tallied at least eight points. Duke was also on point from deep — knocking down 9 of 21 3-pointers — and might not remain outside the Top 25 for long. One thing’s for sure — Virginia’s visit to Cameron Indoor just got a lot more interesting.
5. Notre Dame (up 1)
Record: 17-7 (8-4 ACC)
Last week: 70-79 L at No. 17 Miami, 80-76 W vs. No. 2 North Carolina
This week: 89-83 W at Clemson, Feb. 13 vs. No. 13 Louisville
The Irish just missed out on the AP and Coaches polls this week, but there’s a reason they are getting votes in both. Coach Mike Brey’s team now has W’s against Carolina, Duke and Iowa this season, though they couldn’t quite get by Monmouth — and the Monmouth bench — on Thanksgiving Day. Regardless, Demetrius Jackson has been one of the better players in the ACC this year, and Notre Dame is no slouch.
4. Miami (up 1)
Record: 18-4 (7-3 ACC)
Last week: 79-70 W vs. Notre Dame, 75-68 W at Georgia Tech
This week: Feb. 9 vs. Pittsburgh, Feb. 14 at Florida State
I’ve only been to Miami once in my life, and just for a couple of days. But I remember the ocean air — how refreshing it was — clearly. Well, my guess is the Hurricanes have been breathing plenty of that air in 2015-16, because aside from a couple stumbles, they’ve been one of the stronger teams in the country. It’s a team effort at Miami, but Sheldon McClellan came up especially big against Georgia Tech, posting 22 points on 7-for-9 shooting.
3. Louisville (no change)
Record: 19-5 (8-3 ACC)
Last week: 71-65 W vs. No. 2 North Carolina, 79-47 W vs. Boston College
This week: 65-72 L at Duke, Feb. 13 at Notre Dame
Louisville’s decision to keep its team out of postseason play is the biggest news of the week in ACC men’s hoops. I’m very happy to see the university stepping up to the plate. However, I can see why certain Cardinals — those who came to the program without engaging in any part of this garbage — would be crushed by the move.
2. North Carolina (down 1)
Record: 19-4 (8-2 ACC)
Last week: 65-71 L at No. 19 Louisville, 76-80 L at Notre Dame
This week: Feb. 9 at Boston College, Feb. 14 vs. Pittsburgh
Suddenly, the Heels seem strangely vulnerable. Road losses at Louisville and Notre Dame don’t strike me as anything to get too alarmed over, but it’s hard to shake the feeling Carolina isn’t the titan we’ve perceived them as. Sportswriters and coaches certainly seem to feel that way — the Heels dropped to No. 9 in the AP rankings and No. 8 in the Coaches Poll. Carolina gets a chance to rebound Tuesday at Boston College.
1. Virginia (up 1)
Record: 19-4 (8-3 ACC)
Last week: 61-47 W vs. Boston College, 64-50 W at Pittsburgh
This week: Feb. 9 vs. Virginia Tech, Feb. 13 at Duke
You know the story — Virginia’s won six in a row, Malcolm Brogdon has found his stroke with eight 3-pointers in last week’s wins, and the Cavaliers are getting contributions up and down the lineup at last. It’s all enough to vault Virginia into the top spot in this week’s power rankings.
For Cavalier fans now, it’s surely a fun time to follow #GoACC basketball.