North Carolina (10-2, 21-4) – Big bounce back week for the Tar Heels with wins at BC and against Pitt, although the BC win certainly tested the sanity of UNC’s fan base. The ACC, much like every conference in the NCAA, doesn’t have anyone ready to run away this thing yet. This is the week where the Heels can prove that they are ready to be that team as they bring in Duke tomorrow night and Miami on Saturday.
Virginia (10-4, 21-5) – Fought incredibly tough at Duke in the controversial 1 point loss and then pummeled NC State last night in a must win game. The Hoos have still won 8 of their last 9 and if Grayson Allen’s magical shot didn’t fall or he was called for a travel, as most UVA fans were screaming for, they’d probably be ranked in the top 5, instead they are 7. Miami is their only opponent in the next 7 days in Coral Cables. Malcolm Brogdon’s name is on the shortlist for my ACC Player of the Year
Miami (9-3, 20-4) – Four straight wins now for the Canes, the last 2 by a combined 4 points. But what is important is that in those 2 games that struggled mightily for stretches at time in, they were able to pull out both. They needed a last second putback from Rodriguez to beat Pitt and were a missed shot at the buzzer away from blowing a big lead to FSU. But still, Miami is 8-1 against teams in the top 50 of the BPI rankings, which is tied for the best record in the country. They are looking for solid consistency out of players not named Rodriguez or McClellan and it looks like junior guard Davon Reed is going to be the guy to put forth that effort.
Duke (8-4, 19-6) – Was there ever any doubt that Coach K was going to turn this thing around. Four straight wins, two against two of the previous week’s top three teams in my power rankings, Louisville and Virginia. They will get Amile Jefferson back soon and be even better as they will finally have a little more depth on the bench, something that has been missing as much as Jefferson’s on court talent. Grayson Allen’s shot against UVA will be the spot to look back at in about a month as the point where I said Duke will win the ACC tournament. I am more impressed with Brandon Ingram each game. Tomorrow night’s game in Chapel Hill should be an instant classic.
Notre Dame (9-4, 18-7) – Notre Dame had as good of a week as Duke, winning their only game against Louisville. Mike Brey and company have the easiest remaining schedule of any of the top dogs in the conference, with 4 of their final 5 games against teams in the bottom 6 of the standings, the only outlier being a HOME game against Miami. If they win all 5 and get some help from the other teams beating each other up, its looking like ND could end up with a top 3 seed in the ACC tournament in DC this year.
Syracuse (8-5, 18-8) – Cuse is on fire, 5 straight wins and 8 of 9 overall. Huge game for them tomorrow against the team directly below them on this list Louisville. I thought early in the season that the Orange were going to have 2 straight years without dancing. But they are moving up in the ranks. A win tomorrow could lock it up for them. They’d like to get Trevor Cooney going from three though as he is just 7-25 (28 percent) in his last 4 games.
Louisville (8-4, 19-6) – Nothing is coming up the Cardinals way right now. Two tough road losses in a row to Duke and Notre Dame and now Anas Mahmoud is out for the season with a high ankle sprain. Rick Pitino and his staff just need to play out their last 6 games without injury or incident and let this season be forgotten about. A real shame for Damion Lee and Trey Lewis, who both transferred to the Ville for their senior seasons.
Clemson (8-5, 15-10) – Clemson has to win out for them to make the tournament. Four easy ones (2 against BC, NC State, and Georgia Tech) and a home game against Virginia is all they have left to prove to the committee they deserve to be a part of the field of 68. They’ll start with BC tomorrow.
Pittsburgh (6-6, 17-7) – The Panthers are treading water right now. Granted their schedule in the last 10 days has been brutal, losing to Virginia, Miami, and UNC, Pitt didn’t help their cause at all. They played great basketball at Miami, but couldn’t box out after a last-second miss, which turned into an Angel Rodriguez put back. They only have a few more chances to impress the committee, including at Syracuse on Saturday. But they must bounce back with a win tonight against Wake.
Florida State (6-7, 16-9) – The Seminoles also blew two huge chances to impress the committee this week, losing to Syracuse and Miami. Like Pitt, FSU had a great chance to beat the Canes but couldn’t complete their big comeback in the second half. Joe Lunardi has them in his field right now, but I think a lot of that is because they play in the ACC. They have Duke, Notre Dame, and Syracuse left on the schedule. Winning 2 of those 3 would make me feel more comfortable if I was a Noles fan.
Virginia Tech (5-7, 13-12) – Buzz Williams is trying to turn this program around, and he has already taken some huge steps, the last month was unfortunately not one of those steps. They’ve lost 6 of their last 7.
NC State (3-10, 13-13) – NC State is ranked ahead of GT because of Cat Barber. Their offense is good, defense is not, plain and simple. Still a few nice wins with Miami and Pitt.
Georgia Tech (3-9, 13-12) – Former Maryland transfer Charles Mitchell is 6 points away from 1,000. Something fun to root for when the Jackets take on FSU tomorrow. I am a big Chuck fan.
Boston College (0-12, 7-18) – Who wasn’t rooting for Chaos and BC win against UNC this past week. That would have been a top 5 ACC upset of all time. That excitement is why they jump Wake this week. Six chances left to get that first win, four pretty winnable games (Wake, VT, GT, and NC State).
Wake Forest (1-12, 10-15) – The Demon Deacons allowed 99 points to NC State on Saturday. They have a big game against BC coming up for last place this week. How about Devin Thomas pulling in 21 rebounds this weekend though, impressive.