I will go ahead and apologize for the hiatus for the Power Rankings on Blogger So Dear. Honestly it can get hard to continue to write about Wake Forest/ACC related things when the season is sinking as fast as it has been lately. Combine that with the time crunches of a real job/real world, and I get these things out when I can.
It's been a while since we last checked in, but the tiers are predominantly the same. There are the "elites" (Natty Title contenders), the "solidly in the NCAA Tournaments", the "Bubbles", and the "wait 'til next years" (or 5-6 if you are Boston College).
Without further ado:
1. North Carolina
The Tar Heels are probably the best team in the country right now not named Oklahoma, and they may be the best team in the country. Big game tonight against Louisville. It is worth mentioning that the Heels have played the easiest schedule in the conference so far according to Ken Pomeroy.
Virginia got exceptionally lucky against Wake Forest last week, but they absolutely crushed Louisville on Saturday. I am guessing the Wake game got their attention and they are going to turn it up defensively moving forward.
The Canes lost to N.C. State on Saturday and have been struggling a bit as of late, but I still feel like they are a step ahead of Louisville and Duke in the ACC. They may not be the national title contenders that I saw a bit earlier in the season, but can still be a deep tournament team capable of beating anybody on any given night.
Obviously Saturday was not a good game for the Cardinals. When you put up 14 points in a half you are very rarely going to win basketball games. They have a HUGE home game against No. 2 UNC tonight at the Yum! Center.
As we have all loved to see, Duke has struggled mightily by their standards and sits at just 4-4 in the conference. Their game at Georgia Tech tomorrow night is essentially a toss-up. It is not outside the realm of possibility that the Blue Devils finish the season at .500 or below in ACC play. They have played the 12th easiest conference schedule so far.
The Orange have come back in the strongest way possible after starting the season 0-4, winning its next 5/6 games, with the only loss at UVA in a well-played game. Having a hall-of-fame coach back on the sidelines obviously helps. The Orange could easily win its next three games to get to 8-5 on the season in-conference and solidify an NCAAT bid.
7. Notre Dame
Mike Brey and Notre Dame boast the nation's second most efficient offense, and have won 5/6 games as well. Their only loss game at the hands of Syracuse. The Fighting Irish have benefited from an easier schedule as of late, and their next four games are: @ Miami, UNC, @ Clemson, Louisville. That could see their record drop from 6-3 in ACC to 7-6 in a heartbeat.
Pittsburgh has been a tough team to figure out so far this season. The non-conference strength of schedule left a lot of question marks, and that has continued into ACC play. The Panthers have wins over Notre Dame, FSU and Syracuse, but losses to N.C. State and Clemson. Games against: UVA, @ Miami, and @ UNC will quickly test Jamie Dixon's squad.
The Tigers have probably been one of the biggest surprises of the ACC so far, but still sit on the NCAA Bubble Watch. They started 5-1 in conference, but have lost 2/3 on the road to UVA and FSU. Two road games against Wake Forest and Virginia Tech this week could be make-or-break for the Tigers as the calendar turns into February. They need two road wins.
10. Florida State
Leonard Hamilton's squad continues to click along as the freshmen duo of Bacon and Beasley continue to mesh. At 14-7, 4-5 in the ACC, the Noles need a couple of big wins coming down the stretch to solidify a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Along with Clemson, Florida State is on the bubble, with little room to slip up in the next month.
11. N.C. State
Just when the season appeared to be all but lost for the Wolfpack, they pull off a big win over Miami in Raleigh on Saturday. State still has a lot of work to do to even get in the NCAA picture at 12-10 (2-7), but Cat Barber is likely to win ACC POY, so you can't count them out. There are plenty of marquee games still on their schedule, but 7-2 is what they need to accomplish coming down the stretch. Long shot.
12. Virginia Tech
After a 4-1 start to ACC play, the Hokies have come crashing back down to earth and sit at 12-10 overall with the Pack. Since they lost to Alabama State to start the year, there is literally no margin for error for Buzz Williams' and his squad. I don't see the NCAA Tournament being a possibility, but the NIT would be a nice feather in the cap early on in Williams' stay at Blacksburg.
13. Georgia Tech
At 12-9, 2-6, Georgia Tech has a lot of work to get into any postseason play. 6 out of the Jackets 10 remaining games sit in the KenPom top 50, and Clemson (x2) is at 57. Not sure this is going to be the year that Brian Gregory needed to save his job.
14. Wake Forest
We all know what's going on here. Wake has faced the hardest schedule in the country, as well as the hardest schedule through 9 games in the ACC, but at some point you have to win a game or two to be taken seriously. Wake doesn't play a top 20 team in the country again until its season finale @Duke on March 1st. At 10-11, the NCAA Tournament is almost certainly out of the picture, but 5 or 6 out of the final 9 games would make good feelings headed into next season.
15. Boston College
The winless watch is on and in full blast for the Eagles. They have slightly over a 1/4th chance to go winless in the ACC, and presumably become the first Power 5 team to ever go winless in football and basketball in the same season. They haven't even come close to win in ACC play, with its closest game a 72-62 margin against Florida State last week. Their 8 conference games have been decided on average by a 21 point loss. That is absolutely god awful. Their best chances at a win come on February 23rd (Virginia Tech, 31%), March 5th (Clemson, 19%), and February 27th (Georgia Tech, 18%).