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ACC Basketball Power Rankings, Feb. 21

Friday, February 21, 2014 12:50pm

Jim Young ranks the ACC's basketball teams, from 1 to 15.

So ... confused.

Granted, this is pretty much my default state, but the upsets (one colossal, one very minor) of Syracuse and Duke have now made the top part of my power rankings - which used to be the easy section - tricky. Then there's the usual muddled middle. And then there's the bottom where chaos currently carries the day. 

This is gonna be ... interesting?

NO. 1 VIRGINIA (22-5, 13-1 ACC, NO. 17 RPI)

Previous Ranking: 2

Do I feel a little weird about moving up Virginia to No. 1after the Cavaliers needed a comeback to win at lowly Virginia Tech? Yes. Yes, I do. But Syracuse hasn't played like the best team in the ACC for a while now. I couldn't move up the Cavaliers until the Orange actually lost, though. Now that it's happened, up go the Cavaliers to the top spot. 
Coming Up: Saturday vs. Notre Dame, Wednesday vs. Miami

Basketball divider

NO. 2 SYRACUSE (25-1 OVERALL, 12-1 ACC, NO. 7 RPI)

Previous Ranking: 1

We all knew Syracuse was headed for a fall. I don't think many of us outside the basketball offices of Boston College thought that fall would come against the Eagles. The Orange have made its rep as a great team in the closing minutes, but at some point basic stats tell you that you'll start to lose some of those close games you've previously been winning.

To me, the issue is offense. I mean, 59 points in 45 minutes against BC's defense?

Of course, then I looked at KenPom.com and saw that the Orange is ... 15th nationally in adjusted offense rating. So ... I don't know.  

Coming Up: Saturday at Duke, Monday at Maryland

NO. 3 UNC (19-7, 9-4 ACC, NO. 21 RPI)

Previous Ranking: 4

It's time, people. It's past due, actually. Let's give Roy Williams some appreciation for his coaching. This isn't a typical high-octane, high-scoring UNC squad (60th nationally in offensive rating). Instead, it's getting it done with defense (12th nationally) and rebounding. Winning with different styles? Usually the mark of a good coach. Oh, and the zone defenses he threw at Duke last night worked pretty well, too.  

Coming Up: Saturday vs. Wake Forest, Wednesday at N.C. State

Basketball divider

NO. 4 DUKE (21-6, 10-4 ACC, NO. 10 RPI)

Previous Ranking: 3

I'm a stat guy. I like it so much more than just blathering clichés. That said, I'm totally perplexed as to how Jabari Parker ended up with the second-best defensive rating for Duke last night. He looked like he was playing to avoid foul trouble the whole game, seemingly afraid to get anywhere near the man he was defending. And his off-ball defense wasn't much better, either. His defensive no-show came on the heels of a glowing SI article titled "The Education of Jabari Parker." Apparently, his education hasn't included too many courses in the kind of defense K usually demands. 

Coming Up: Saturday vs. Syracuse, Tuesday vs. Virginia Tech

Basketball divider

NO. 5 PITT (20-6, 8-5 ACC, NO. 27 RPI)

Previous Ranking: 4

Pitt's been sliding, but at least it plays a team that's in an even worse slump in FSU. The Panthers really need to get Talib Zanna going again. It's no coincidence that his only decent game recently was Pitt's narrow loss to Syracuse. 

Coming Up: Sunday vs. FSU, Wednesday at BC

Basketball Divider

NO. 6 CLEMSON (16-9, 7-6 ACC, NO. 70 RPI)

Previous Ranking: 7

Can Clemson make the NCAA tournament? Winning at Notre Dame or at home against Virginia would have really helped. But look at this schedule down the stretch - at Georgia Tech, at Wake Forest, home against Maryland, home against Miami, home against Pitt. I could see Clemson winning its next four and then it all coming down to the finale against the Panthers.

Oh, and I could also see Brad Brownell getting a lot of votes for ACC Coach of the Year. He's done a great job. 

Coming Up: Saturday at Georgia Tech, Tuesday at Wake Forest

Basketball divider

NO. 7 N.C. STATE (16-10, 6-7 ACC, NO. 55 RPI)

Previous Ranking: 6

Soooo close, Wolfpack. Just a brutal week. First came the crushing loss at Syracuse - where State was seconds away from an enormous tournament resumé boost. Then State had to travel to Clemson for a critical game in the wake of that emotional defeat. 

But the Wolfpack's not dead yet. Its final five games are winnable and two of them - home against UNC and at Pitt - would help its NCAA cause greatly. 

I know, I know. We haven't seen anything that indicates State's ready to get on a roll. I'm just saying it's at least possible. 

Coming Up: Saturday at Virginia Tech, Wednesday vs. UNC

Basketball divider

NO. 8 MARYLAND (15-12, 7-7 ACC, NO. 72 RPI)

Previous Ranking: 8

The Duke-Maryland matchup captured a lot of my feelings about the ACC in one game. As I watched it, I kept thinking "I'm not sure Maryland is very good." And yet, the Terps stayed close to the Blue Devils and even took a late lead. The Terps were only an unlucky bounce off the rim from getting a huge win.

So are they sneaky good? I ... don't think so. Maybe not as disappointing as I'd first thought? I ... think so. 

Yep, 27 games in and I still don't have a feel for this Terps team. I suspect Mark Turgeon may be in the same boat. 

I'll just say this: If every other Terp matched the intensity that Charles Mitchell displayed against Duke, Maryland would be a sure bet for the NCAA tournament. 

Coming Up: Monday vs. Syracuse

Basketball divider

NO. 9 FLORIDA STATE (15-11, 6-8 ACC, NO. 64 RPI)

Previous Ranking: 9

The Seminoles have managed to be both better than expected and disappointing in the same season. That's hard to do.

In our Thursday podcast, Denny Kuiper said that in his experience as a coach, a midseason slide like this is usually a sign of chemistry issues - either between the players or between the players and the coaches.  

If that's the case, then it doesn't bode well for FSU rebounding and making a stretch run. But the Noles did win at Wake last week and, like I said, things have been weird so far for FSU. So ... why not?

Coming Up: Sunday at Pitt

Basketball divider

Just a heads up that I'm angry with the bottom third of this league. I used to be able to count on you guys to at least be predictable. But now you're all winning games and ... losing games to each other. I really should just tie you all for No. 15 out of spite. 

NO. 10 MIAMI (13-13, 4-9 ACC, NO. 107 RPI)

Previous Ranking: 11

The Hurricanes lose at Virginia Tech - suffering a season sweep at the hands of the Hokies - and score 71 points (a veritable avalanche of points) in a win over Notre Dame. Just all sorts of #goacc last week. No idea whether to punish the Canes for being the only team Virginia Tech can beat, or to reward them for getting a road win. 

On a more serious note, Rion Brown is now on my short list of players who could sneak on the All-ACC third team. He's leading the Canes in both scoring (14.7 ppg) and rebounding (6.4 rpg, not bad for a swing man). Brown was great (21 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists) against the Irish. 

Coming Up: Saturday vs. Boston College, Wednesday at Virginia

Basketball Divider

NO. 11 NOTRE DAME (14-13, 5-9 ACC, NO. 115 RPI)

Previous Ranking: 12

Seriously, thanks a lot, bottom of the ACC. Notre Dame wins at BC and then loses at Miami. What am I supposed to do with this?

You had a chance to build a little momentum, Irish. Wins over Clemson and BC, a winnable game at Miami and .... whiff.

Which means you'll probably go to Charlottesville and scare the heck of out of the Cavaliers now.

Coming Up: Saturday at Virginia, Wednesday vs. Georgia Tech

Basketball divider

NO. 12 GEORGIA TECH (13-13, 4-9 ACC, NO. 155 RPI)

Previous Ranking: 13

I'm tired of all the negativity that comes with ranking the bottom teams in this league, so I'll point out that Robert Carter appears to be rounding back into form after missing 10 games with a knee injury. And Tech has two winnable games this week.

I'm a ray of sunshine.  

Coming Up: Saturday vs. Clemson, Wednesday at Notre Dame

Basketball divider

NO. 13 WAKE FOREST (14-12, 4-9 ACC, NO. 104 RPI)

Previous Ranking: 10

Well, I guess I should applaud Wake Forest for being the only consistent team in the bottom third of the ACC. Of course, consistent losing is not really what you're shooting for. You know you're scuffling when you blow a 16-point lead at home to an FSU team that - other than beating you in Winston-Salem - is also seriously slumping.

Coming Up: Saturday at UNC, Tuesday vs. Clemson

Basketball divider

NO. 14 BOSTON COLLEGE (7-19, 3-10 ACC, 173 RPI)

Previous Ranking: 14

What to do with the Eagles? They produced a brilliant win by knocking off Syracuse in the Carrier Dome. But they also lost at home to Notre Dame and then there's the small matter of that win over the Orange being just BC's seventh of the season. 

So you'll just have to stay where you are, BC. Still though, great win. (Pats back, avoids eye contact, moves away quickly). 

Coming Up: Saturday at Miami, Wednesday vs. Pitt

Basketball divider

NO. 15 VIRGINIA TECH (9-16, 2-11 ACC, NO. 216 RPI)

Previous Ranking: 15

Sorry, Hokies. I seriously entertained thoughts of moving you guys up after you completed the season sweep of Miami. But then that whole BC-Syracuse thing happened.

Just know though that I'm still watching you. A W over Miami and then a near W against mighty UVa. Kudos for keeping at it, fellas.  

Coming Up: Saturday vs. N.C. State, Tuesday at Duke

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