Post-January ACC Basketball Power Rankings
Post-January ACC Basketball Power Rankings
The month of January has come to an end as we now move into February, which are the dog days of college basketball. We no longer have the excitement of the start of conference play, and we’re still more than a month away from the excitement of March, so now is the perfect time to put out a new power ranking of the 15 ACC basketball teams.
The ACC took a positive step forward in the month of January as it tried to shake off the struggles the league had during the first two months of the season, when it did anything but assert itself as one of the top conferences in college basketball. If nothing else, the ACC appears to have four teams that should be considered locks for the NCAA Tournament, and possibly a handful of other teams that could be considered bubble teams at the moment. That might not sound like much, but it’s considerably better than a month ago, when the league would have been lucky to get four teams into the tournament.
Even though this is the start of the dog days of college basketball when the season really starts to feel like a grind, a majority of the conference games in the coming weeks will have a lot at stake. The race is still tight at the top of the conference even though Syracuse appears to be the team to beat, while several bubble teams in the middle of the conference are trying to prove they belong in the top tier of the league. With that in mind, let’s take a look at my ACC power rankings heading into the month of February.
15. Virginia Tech
A 24-point shellacking at the hands of Boston College confirms what we've suspected all along, which is that the Hokies are the worst team in the ACC. They have just one league win, and it came back on December 8. It makes you wonder if the folks in Blacksburg are longing for the days of Seth Greenberg, when they were at least close to the NCAA Tournament on a yearly basis.
14. Boston College
The Eagles aren't as bad as their record indicates, but the only conference wins they have are against Virginia Tech. If nothing else, Boston College knows they aren't the worst team in the ACC, but the rest of the season is going to be a struggle for them.
13. Georgia Tech
There's not much to look at here: a December 3 win over Illinois is still Georgia Tech's best win of the season as the Yellow Jackets have had some pitiful games in ACC play. They don't look like a team that's going to do much the rest of the season.
12. Notre Dame
The Irish aren't winning a lot these days, but Mike Brey deserves a lot of credit for holding things together. Being able to beat Duke and stay close in games after losing Jerian Grant has been fairly impressive, even though they're struggling to get out of the ACC basement.
Maryland has been consistently inconsistent this season. They have four league wins, but none are against teams that are going anywhere this year. They've had some ugly losses on the road, so they've got a lot of work to do, especially with four of their next five games being on the road.
The Hurricanes are probably better than they should be after losing all five starters from last year. They beat North Carolina and they played the ACC's best team, Syracuse, closely on two occasions. Miami probably isn't going to push for a postseason berth this year, but they'll be a tough team to play down the stretch for the rest of the league.
9. Florida State
The Seminoles have been solid, and they have a couple of blowout wins against conference foes. However, they haven't done anything impressive this year, and they only have a couple of games left to get resume-building wins, so they're going to have to beat the rest of the middle-of-the-pack ACC teams if they're going to make a push for the NCAA Tournament.
Two weeks ago, the Tigers may have been among the ACC's top five teams with wins over Duke and Wake Forest on their resume. However, they've been blown out in their last two games, which has knocked them back considerably. Clemson is in the middle of a stretch in which they play five of six games on the road, which is a little unfair; on the road or not, however, they need to find a way to stop the bleeding and get back on track.
7. North Carolina
UNC appears to have weathered a rough start to the conference season, but a home win over Clemson is the most impressive thing they've done inside the ACC, so the jury is still out. They have the talent to be one of the league's top teams, but they're going to have to rattle off a few more impressive wins before they get to that point.
6. North Carolina State
The Wolf Pack have won three in a row, and they are rolling. Outside of an early-season loss against North Carolina Central, it's tough to be upset at any of their losses. If NC State can continue to win and get a few impressive wins on their resume, they could be an NCAA Tournament team.
5. Wake Forest
Their splits between home and road are a bit of a concern, but this relatively young team has shown a lot of growth this season. If Wake Forest can keep taking care of business at home and find a way to win a few games on the road, they'll be in good shape for an NCAA Tournament bid.
The Cavaliers flipped a switch when conference play started, and now they look like a contender in the ACC. They are 7-1 in league play, and all seven wins have been convincing while their lone loss in a road game against Duke was a game that could have ended differently. Virginia is for real, and they have a chance to win the conference if they keep playing the way they played throughout January.
Pitt has had no problem adjusting to the ACC, and they've looked right at home, quickly ascending to the top of the conference. They play tough defense, they share the basketball and they have senior leaders, which are three things you find on great teams. The Panthers have the potential to be a great team by season's end.
The Blue Devils made a huge statement with its road win over Pittsburgh, especially after road losses against Notre Dame and Clemson caused some concern for Duke. They've been much better defensively over the past two weeks, which is why they've been able to blow people away and why they're almost at the top of the ACC power rankings.
Syracuse has the uncanny ability to make winning plays at the end of games, and that's why they've yet to lose a game. They haven't blown teams out the way you'd expect one of the nation's top teams to, but they dominate down the stretch in every single game. There's almost no other team in the country that can do that, which is what separates them from everyone else in the ACC and just about everyone else in the country.