1.) Duke Blue Devils
After a very telling and, in some cases, surprising week in the ACC, we have a whole new set of power rankings. The top team is no shock, but the rest of the league is enjoying a big shakeup.
There really doesn't need to be an explanation here. Duke is the best team in the ACC and will stay up here unless something drastic happens.
2.) Clemson Tigers
Clemson tried to blow it against UNC, but they didn't. They took a punch and built their lead right back up. And that's a very telling sign for this Tigers team. They almost slipped up against NC State, but with the way that Trevor Booker and Demontez Stitt are playing and added help from their supporting cast, the pressing Tigers have been one of the ACC's most consistent teams, and there aren't many teams that can say that right now.
You're probably laughing that the Deacs are here at three after losing by 20 to Duke. But there's two reasons I have them here: 1.) the win against Maryland was one that last year's team would not have pulled out and 2.) there was a lot of fight in that team against the Blue Devils despite the score. Chas McFarland, dirty or not, seems to have turned the corner and Al-Farouq Aminu has started to play more within himself. Ishmael Smith needs to have better shot selection, but with the added bonus of the emergence of freshman Ari Stewart, this week could be the biggest of the season for the Demon Deacons.
4.) Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Can Georgia Tech please just get on meds already. The unstable Jackets have knocked off Duke and UNC, but have lost to UVA and FSU. At their best, GT provides matchup problems against everyone in the league with their frontcourt depth of Derrick Favors, Gani Lawal and Zach Peacock, but they need to continue to get good play from the recently returned Iman Schumpert and Mfon Udofia. And they can't beat themselves. They have a huge game against Clemson tonight.
They may even deserve to be higher. The big surprise of the season has been just how quickly Tony Bennett has turned around the Cavs. With a team that does not inspire fear in anyone on paper, Bennett has used tempo control and great defense to surprise teams thus far. The Cavs needed a gutsy finish by Sylven Landesberg to beat UNC-W, but the question is, will the Cavs continue to impress now that they won't be flying under the radar?
6.) Florida State Seminoles
I don't know what to make of Florida State still. I still like them to finish right around here, but how do you explain a loss to N.C. State? The combination of Solomon Alabi, Chris Singleton and Derwin Kitchen is solid and the 'Noles get decent help from Ryan Reid and Deividas Dulkys (Shooting 45% from 3PT). They just suffer from the ACC's collective lack of consistency.
It's almost February, so that means that Maryland is going to start to wake up. Greivis Vasquez has a bit of a chip on his shoulder right now and has been playing much better. That, and Eric Hayes, Landon Milbourne and Sean Hayes are all chipping in. Gary's boys are right where they always are.
8.) North Carolina Tarheels
Two losses in a row will do this to a team. And UNC has to have a "come to Jesus" moment. Hopefully for Wake fans, that moment comes after the game on Wednesday and not before. Regardless, the Heels have a lot they need to work on and they haven't seemed to address any of their problems. Sure, a few of their losses have been to good teams, but you can't just excuse six losses this far into the year. I'll be quick to move the Heels back up if they have a good week, but right now, they don't deserve to be any higher than eight.
VT still only has three losses, two of them in conference. They played fairly well against UNC, then smoked Miami before losing a close one to FSU. They then took out that loss and I guess a bunch of other aggression on NC Central, winning 72-30. The Hokies might not quite have enough outside of Delaney to make it to the Tourney, but they will be right on the cusp and will knock off some good teams along the way.
10.) Miami Hurricanes
What happened here? Maybe Wake really did just play a terrible game against Miami. And the 'Canes non-con schedule is catching up with them with them. It shows me for putting them too high last week, but wow Miami got steamrolled last week.
11.) N.C. State Wolfpack
They showed some teeth in the win over Florida State. Tracy Smith is playing terrific basketball, but the rest of the Pack just doesn't have much of anything. But knowing how this year's ACC is going, they'll probably end up beating Clemson or something.
Ouch. BC is at eight losses on the season now and their next few games are rough: @Miami, @VT, Clemson, FSU, Duke, @Wake, @FSU, UNC, VT, @GT.