As we chug on towards Christmas, non-conference games are winding down and the real season is about to begin. There were a few games of note last week that changed the order this week, so sit back, relax, and enjoy this week's edition of Blogger So Dear's Power Rankings.
1. Virginia (9-1)
There is a new sheriff in town this week, as Virginia knocks Duke off its perch as the number on team in the ACC. Virginia had a huge week, knocking off ranked Villanova by 11 points. This followed up a 16 point victory over West Virginia from December 8th. After an early season loss to George Washington, the Cavaliers have been absolutely rolling. One more tough test against California lingers before Tony Bennett's squad can enjoy Christmas. Virginia is the No. 1 team in the country according to Ken Pomeroy's rankings, holding a narrow lead over Oklahoma.
2. Miami (9-1)
The Hurricanes move up a spot from last week to take over the No. 2 spot in this week's power rankings. A decisive 22 point victory over College of Charleston on Saturday was the only game of the week. The Canes have 3 top 40 wins on the year, and its only loss came on a buzzer beater to Northeastern the day after Thanksgiving. A game against La Salle on Tuesday shouldn't be much of a test, and only Princeton next week remains before the ACC schedule starts.
3. Louisville (9-1)
It's hard for me to rank Louisville (and Pitt) at all due to the fact that they have played almost nobody yet. They lost to Michigan State on December 2nd in a well-fought game, but since then have played two teams in the top 150 of the Pomeroy rankings. To be fair to Louisville, they have won those games, but beating teams on your 319th ranked strength of schedule is expected for a Rick Pitino coached squad. I will rely heavily on KenPom, who has the Cardinals at 6th in the country, but we will find out what kind of team the Cardinals really are on Boxing Day when they take on Kentucky at Rupp Arena.
4. Duke (9-2)
The Blue Devils lost a tight affair with Utah on Saturday in overtime, dropping its second game of the year. Duke has four top 100 wins on the year, is 1-2 against teams in the top 40 in KenPom. It will be interesting to see how Coach K can deal with the absence of Amile Jefferson, who could be out a month or so with a foot injury. Grayson Allen, ranked 5th in the KPOY race, struggled mightily, shooting 3-18 from the field against a stout Utah defense. The good news is that freshman Luke Kennard had 24 points on 9 shots. Duke is off until they take on Elon at Cameron (shocker) next Monday.
5. North Carolina (9-2)
UNC got a nice 89-76 win over UCLA on Saturday, with a really impressive game from Brice Johnson. Marcus Paige scored 10 points on 9 shots, but chipped in 6 assists to only one turnover. The Heels only turned it over 8 times, and shot a red hot 64% from two's in the win. Roy Williams' squad turns around quickly and hosts Appalachian State tonight where they are favored by 30 points.
6. Pittsburgh (9-1)
Like Louisville, it is really hard to rank Pittsburgh at all because they have played just two top 100 KenPom teams. They dismantled Davidson in New York on Saturday, so I give them a lot of credit for that. Pittsburgh is one of 7 ACC teams ranked in the KenPom top 25, and takes on Western Carolina on Wednesday. It's hard to get a feel for how good Jamie Dixon's team is, but for now they are ranked solidly in that middle tier of the ACC.
7. Notre Dame (7-3)
The Fighting Irish were in great shape to defeat the Indiana Hoosiers on Saturday, leading 41-31 at the half, and 63-55 with 10 minutes remaining, but they couldn't hold on to the lead and inevitably fell by seven points 80-73. Sophomore Bonzie Colson dropped 24 and 8 in the loss, but Troy Williams scored and rebounded at will for the Hoosiers, posting an 18-10 stat line. The Irish have a good early season win over Iowa, but have also dropped three games to KenPom top 100 teams so far. Youngstown State and Liberty are up next for Mike Brey, and a 9-3 OOC record looks likely for Notre Dame.
8. Florida State (8-2)
Leonard Hamilton and the Seminoles absolutely crushed Mississippi State on Wednesday night 90-66, but followed it up with a lackluster 64-59 win over Florida Atlantic. The Noles once again boast an impressive defense (ranked 24th in the country), but also have not played an overly difficult schedule. A win over 56th ranked VCU is the only top 100 KenPom win, and after Charleston Southern tonight face off against 8 straight teams ranked in the top 70.
9. N.C. State (8-3)
The Pack needed a buzzer beating three from Cat Barber own Wednesday night to knock off High Point (ranked surprisingly high at 114 in KenPom), then followed it up with a 14 point road win against 190th ranked Mizzou. Barber will likely win ACC Player of the Week, and could be the frontrunner for conference player of the year at this point. N.C. State has been a little up and down at times this year, but should be a bubble team when March rolls around.
10. Wake Forest (8-2)
The Deacs got two victories over UNC-G and Coastal Carolina in the past week. The Coastal game was probably a little closer than most would have liked, but sitting at 8-2 with the 127th hardest schedule with victories over Indiana, UCLA, and Arkansas is above what most would have expected as well. One of the biggest games that Wake Forest has played in 5 years is tomorrow night, as top 10 team Xavier comes into town. It is the first ranked non-conference opponent to play in the Joel since 2005 (I know, hard to believe). If the Deacs win tomorrow night they will be ranked for the first time in several years. Really excited for the game and can't wait to see what Coach Manning and the team have to bring to the table.
11. Syracuse (8-3)
The Orange bounced back from an embarrassing 12 point loss to St. Johns (who lost this week to Incarnate Word and NJIT), to knock off Cornell by 21 points. Cuse takes on Montana State and Texas Southern to wrap up its non-conference schedule. If all goes according to plan 10-3 is a likely record heading into a road tilt with Pittsburgh next Wednesday. Trevor Cooney needs to start knocking down some three-pointers (33% on the year) to help Gbinije and Lydon stretch the court.
12. Georgia Tech (7-3)
Brian Gregory and his Yellow Jackets defeated VCU on Tuesday night, but fell at the hands of Georgia in Athens on Saturday by 14 points. Georgia Tech has three top 100 KenPom wins, but also a head scratcher to East Tennessee State back in November. It's hard to tell what kind of team GT will be this year, but barring another upset, should be 10-3 headed into a road game against North Carolina on January 2nd.
13. Clemson (7-4)
The Tigers played arch-rival South Carolina tough on Friday, but couldn't hand the Gamecocks its first loss of the season. They decimated Presbyterian on Tuesday to go 1-1 on the week, but all wins have come against teams ranked 227th or worse in KenPom. The 335th ranked non-conference scheduled, along with four losses already is not very impressive at all. They would be ranked lower if Virginia Tech and Boston College weren't just awful. The Tigers could be in for a rough month, as all teams they play are ranked 69th on better until Wake Forest on February 2nd.
14. Virginia Tech (8-3)
Buzz Williams and his squad keep on keeping on, with a 35 point win over Grambling State (far and away the worst team in Division 1 basketball the past few years). Two rough games against St. Joseph's and West Virginia loom large for the Hokies to wrap up the out of conference schedule. If they can win one of these, a 9-4 OOC record isn't overly awful, with only the loss to Alabama State in the season opener an embarrassment. It bears noting that they have played the 5th easiest schedule in the country and still have 3 losses. That's not a good sign of things to come as conference play ramps up soon.
15. Boston College (5-6)
I'll give BC some credit, after losing 6 straight games over two weeks, the Eagles got two home wins over Maine and Delaware in the past 8 days. They are still very bad and are projected by KenPom to win just 4 more games this year, but hey, they did get two wins in a row. Coming in at 214th in KenPom, the Eagles are the worst ACC team by over 100 spots. They will likely be in last place the entire season unless if they can beat Virginia Tech at some point.