Jim Young ranks the ACC's basketball teams, from 1 to 15.
It's been a while, hasn't it?
I skipped these rankings last week because of National Signing Day insanity, and then I decided to push them back until the end of the week, when there's the only gap in ACC play these days (still not used to to the whole Monday night thing).
Well delay no more! Let's get to the rankings.
NO. 1 SYRACUSE (24-0 OVERALL, 11-0 ACC, NO. 3 RPI)
Previous Ranking: 1
As I said in my Thursday podcast with Denny Kuiper, I don't know if Syracuse is the No. 1 team in the country for the first 36 minutes of the game, but it certainly is for the last four.
Oh, and in case you somehow missed it ...
Coming Up: Saturday vs. N.C. State, Wednesday vs. Boston College,
NO. 2 VIRGINIA (20-5, 11-1 ACC, NO. 17 RPI)
Previous Ranking: 3
NO. 3 DUKE (19-5, 8-3 ACC, NO. 8 RPI)
Previous Ranking: 2
Yes, I bumped Duke down a spot, when the only blemish for the Blue Devils since the last rankings was an overtime loss at Syracuse. Please consider this praise for the Cavaliers and not a diss at the Blue Devils.
Tell you what, Duke. You go through the Feb. 15-22 stretch - Maryland, @GT, @UNC, Syracuse - unbeaten, and we'll revisit this whole ranking thing.
Coming Up: Saturday vs. Maryland, Tuesday at Georgia Tech, Thursday at UNC
NO. 4 UNC (16-7, 6-4 ACC, NO. 33 RPI)
Previous Ranking: 6
The Tar Heels have turned things around, to be sure. But now things get real. First Pitt, then a road trip to FSU. Then Duke, then at N.C. State the following week, with another game against Duke to end the regular season.
That's why I think tomorrow's game against the Panthers is so vital. Win that, the roll continues and the momentum builds. Lose, and the questions will creep in at a time when the Tar Heels need all the confidence they can muster.
Coming Up: Saturday vs. Pitt, Monday at FSU, Thursday vs. Duke
NO. 5 PITT (20-5, 8-4 ACC, NO. 27 RPI)
Previous Ranking: 4
So you want to be a coach, huh? Then imagine you're Jamie Dixon. You're 4.4 seconds away from a huge, season-defining win over Syracuse. But then Tyler Ennis hits a running 35-footer and - instead of putting a huge notch on the team's collective belt - folks are still telling you that your team hasn't beaten anyone. Oh, and now you have to go to UNC. Oh, and they're criticizing you for taking a timeout before the Orange's final possession.
Yup, it's a dream job.
Coming Up: Saturday at UNC
NO. 6 N.C. STATE (16-8, 6-5 ACC, NO. 51 RPI)
Previous Ranking: 8
The Wolfpack has played itself on the bubble by winning the games it has to win, but at some point it's going to need stretch beyond those limits and win a game that'll grab the selection committee's attention. Saturday is a golden opportunity.
Hear me out. It's not like Syracuse has been running away and hiding from teams. And when it comes down to those final minutes, State's got a punchers' chance with a closer like T.J. Warren on its side.
Of course, there is that small matter of trying to shoot over that Syracuse zone ...
Coming Up: Saturday at Syracuse, Tuesday at Clemson
NO. 7 CLEMSON (15-8, 6-5 ACC, NO. 68 RPI)
Previous Ranking: 9
The Tigers have their signature win already, having knocked off Duke. Now they need to win those 50/50 games. You know, like the one they just lost at Notre Dame. Oof.
Still, Clemson made it through a really tough seven-game stretch with a 3-4 mark. Brownell's boys are still in the conversation for the NCAA tournament. That in itself is a major accomplishment.
Coming Up: Saturday vs. Syracuse, Tuesday vs. N.C. State.
Can I leave this spot blank? Just skip ahead to No. 9? No? Very well then ...
NO. 8 MARYLAND (14-11, 6-6 ACC, NO. 71 RPI)
Previous Ranking: 11
How did the Terrapins manage a three-spot jump in the rankings just by going 3-2 since the last article? Take a look at the the teams they leaped over and you'll understand.
That said, the Terps have several chances left do some serious upgrading to their postseason resume - at Duke (Feb. 15), vs. Syracuse (Feb. 24), vs. Virginia (March 9). Win one of those and sweep the other three left (Wake, at Clemson - yikes-, Virginia Tech) and ... well, I'm not sure. But Maryland would at least be in the bubble conversation.
Coming Up: Saturday at Duke, Tuesday vs. Wake Forest.
NO. 9 FLORIDA STATE (14-10, 5-7 ACC, NO. 63 RPI)
Previous Ranking: 5
Remember when FSU was a solid, safe bet to make the NCAA tourney? When the Noles could boast of non-con wins over VCU and UMass and respectable losses to Michigan and Florida? When they were 4-2 in the ACC, with road wins over Clemson and Miami.
Things are different now.
Speaking of which, remember when FSU had a nasty, stingy defense? In four of the Noles' last five ACC losses, they've yielded an average of 78 points a contest. (The other loss was to offensively-challenged Clemson, so you can sort of disregard those numbers.)
The feel-good narrative earlier for FSU was that it now had the scoring - with Ian Miller and Aaron Thomas - to go along with the defense. That storyline has undergone some serious changes in recent weeks.
Coming Up: Saturday at Wake Forest, Monday vs. UNC
Who's up for a four-way tie for 10th!?!!?
Siggh ... fine. I'll establish an order. But I won't be happy about it.
NO. 10 WAKE FOREST (14-10, 4-7 ACC, NO. 82 RPI)
Previous Ranking: 7
Four straight losses for the Deacs. Granted, three of them are pretty understandable. And that home loss to Georgia Tech? Well it didn't help that Codi Miller-McIntyre got hurt just before halftime.
Yeah, I'm reaching. But I have to come up with some justification for not dropping Wake lower.
Coming Up: Saturday vs. FSU, Tuesday at Maryland
NO. 11 MIAMI (12-12, 3-8 ACC, NO. 104 RPI)
Previous Ranking: 10
"Hey Jim, it's John. How you doin? Things are good here. Not used to this much snow in Greensboro, but we'll survive.
"Anyway Jim, we all think you're doing a bang-up job coaching a bunch of no-names down there, but could you ... uh .. tone it down a little?
"Here's my point. You winning games at UNC and FSU? That's not really helping the league out. Know what I mean?
"What do I want you to do? I don't know. Maybe stop playing that matchup zone?"
Coming Up: Saturday at Virginia Tech, Wednesday vs. Notre Dame
NO. 12 NOTRE DAME (13-12, 4-8 ACC, NO. 111 RPI)
Previous Ranking: 12
Notre Dame's now 3-0 at home this year in overtime games, having beaten Canisius, Boston College and Clemson.
So the Irish have that going for them ... which is nice.
Coming Up: Sunday at Boston College, Wednesday at at Miami
NO. 13 GEORGIA TECH (13-12, 4-8 ACC, NO. 148 RPI)
Previous Ranking: 13
It's been a long season already for the Jackets. Let's just let them enjoy this bright spot.
Coming Up: Tuesday vs. Duke
NO. 14 BOSTON COLLEGE (6-18, 2-9 ACC, 190 RPI)
Previous Ranking: 14
Gee ... um ... (awkward silence). At least Georges-Hunt made the three-pointer anyway, so Lonnie Jackson's foul on the shot didn't really matter, right?
(More awkward silence)
Coming Up: Sunday vs. Notre Dame, Thursday at Syracuse
NO. 15 VIRGINIA TECH (8-15, 1-10 ACC, NO. 220 RPI)
Previous Ranking: 15
I'm not going to get all snarky here. The Hokies went to Pitt and darned near won the game. They've got nothing to play for, yet James Johnson still has them playing hard. Kudos.
Coming Up: Saturday vs. Miami, Tuesday vs. Virginia