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TNIAAM ACC Basketball Power Rankings: Week 5

Power rankings... because it's fun to assign rankings to things, especially when those numbers don't matter.

Rich Barnes

Each week, the TNIAAM basketball staff will be ranking all 15 ACC teams in a completely subjective manner, just like everyone else on the internet does. Feel like we're completely off base? Can it Chime in with your own ACC power rankings below.


You might have noticed we skipped last week. What with Thanksgiving and all, we figured we'd give these teams an extra week to figure out who they were and then we could revisit. Unfortunately, few ACC squads took advantage of that opportunity, and we're still faced with a muddled mess in the middle of the league -- which you'll notice below.

Interested in seeing the individual voter breakdown (#HonorYourContract)? Check out the Google Doc here!

1. Syracuse Orange (8-0) (0-0) (LW: 2)

Last Week: W, 69-52 over Indiana

Highest Position: 1; Lowest Position: 2

Anyone who was shaky on the Orange following a come-from-behind win over St. Francis at home has certainly quieted down over the past two weeks. Syracuse was utterly dominant in Maui, beating three major-conference foes en route to their third title in as many trips to Hawaii. Then, back on the mainland, SU throttled an Indiana team that proved they learned nothing about the zone since March. They're getting hot, it seems, and it's only December.

2. Duke Blue Devils (7-2) (0-0) (Last Week: 1)

Last Week: L, 72-66 to Arizona; W, 79-69 over Michigan

Highest Position: 1; Lowest Position: 3

Duke has played extremely well offensively, but they've also struggled mightily on defense at times, and showed some growing pains against elite teams (see: losses to Kansas, Arizona). With two elite players in Rodney Hood and Jabari Parker, they should be able to coast by most teams on the schedule, however, it'll be interesting to see if the supporting cast can step up when the Blue Devils get into the meat of the ACC slate.

T-3. North Carolina Tar Heels (5-2) (0-0) (LW: 5)

Last Week: L, 63-59 to UAB; W, 79-65 over Michigan State

Highest Position: 3; Lowest Position: 5

What is this team? One minute, they're losing to the likes of UAB and Belmont, and the next, they're beating Louisville and Michigan State. It's great this UNC squad can get up for big games, but dropping those lesser contests is also going to bite them in the ass too many times to count. For now, this is a sneaky dangerous team (last night's victory over MSU was resounding in every way, though), with plenty of time to round into a national title contender.

T-3. Pittsburgh Panthers (8-0) (0-0) (LW: 4)

Last Week: W, 84-67 over Duquesne; W, 78-69 over Penn State

Highest Position: 2; Lowest Position: 5

They've beaten every team so far, just like they were supposed to. And even when they're not dominant, the Panthers seem to find a way to gut it out at the end -- see Tuesday's tough matchup with Penn State as exhibit A. While the scoring's high right now (81.3 points per game), this Pitt team is going to return to form as a grind-it-out, rebound-heavy group at some point. Until then, enjoy watchable contests from them.

5. Virginia Cavaliers (7-2) (0-0) (LW: 3)

Last Week: W, 76-73 over SMU; W, 83-63 over Missouri State; L, 48-38 to Wisconsin

Highest Position: 3; Lowest Position: 7

Ew. That Wisconsin game was pitiful, even if it is the exact style of play Virginia believes itself to excel at. Unbeknown to the Hoos, however, they've evolved into a team that can actually run a competent offense AND doesn't have to grind opponents into the floor on defense. They've played a little too up-and-down to really get a feel for them just yet, but if I'm UVa, I think they're better off scoring points than getting into rock fights.

6. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (7-2) (0-0) (LW: 10)

Last Week: W, 77-63 over USC; L, 82-63 to Tennessee; W, 72-57 over Tulane

Highest Position: 6; Lowest Position: 9

The win over USC is nice enough, as was the close loss to Kansas two weeks ago. But neither can remove the stink of the stink from a blowout loss to Tennessee. Wake Forest has shown itself to be adept at ball movement and rebounding -- very good signs -- though if shots start falling for their opponents, they find themselves in high-scoring affairs more often than is comfortable. It's fine to try and outscore VMI and Jacksonville, but they can't make a habit of it against major-conference squads.

7. Clemson Tigers (7-1) (0-0) (LW: 11)

Last Week: W, 69-40 over Coastal Carolina; W, 65-49 over South Carolina State

Highest Position: 5; Lowest Position: 11

Don't look now, but Clemson leads the country in team defense -- holding opponents to just 51 points per game. And at home, they're even better, allowing a paltry 46.8 per. That won't stand for the entirety of the season, but for a team that was unsure of its identity coming into November, this is a great start. They'll have to find ways to score sooner or later too, though. As we saw against UMass (their only loss so far), defensive struggles may not be a sustainable long-term strategy.

8. Florida State Seminoles (5-3) (0-0) (LW: 7)

Last Week: L, 67-66 to Florida; L, 71-61 to Minnesota

Highest Position: 5; Lowest Position: 11

It's tough to penalize the 'Noles too much for what looks like a slow start on the surface. But in games against three ranked teams (VCU, Michigan, UF), they're 1-2 with both losses coming by just three combined points. The Minnesota defeat doesn't look amazing on the bubble resume, however, it was on the road, and the Gophers had some time off since Maui. FSU will right itself, though more losses could be coming before that happens.

9. NC State Wolfpack (5-2) (0-0) (LW: 12)

Last Week: W, 75-56 over Eastern Kentucky; W, 69-48 over Northwestern

Highest Position: 6; Lowest Position: 11

I'm in wait-and-see mode on the Wolfpack after they took care of business against inferior opponents lately. Not listed above is a win over Florida Gulf Coast as well, which is not as impressive as it would've been last year, but is still a victory they were supposed to collect. Until they get into the meat of the schedule, the NC Central (bad loss against bad team) and Cincinnati (bad loss against good team) are going to define their resume, unfortunately.

10. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (5-2) (0-0) (LW: 6)

Last Week: W, 101-67 over Cornell; L, 98-93 to Iowa

Highest Position: 6; Lowest Position: 11

Maybe this is too far of a drop for the Irish after losing to a ranked Iowa squad? No matter how good the Hawkeyes could be though, I don't believe anyone should be allowed 98 points in college basketball. This team can run, and that gives way to higher point totals, I get that. But they've yet to stop a legitimate team from scoring in equal measure with them. We'll see if they manage to hold firm once Christmas rolls around with a four-game stretch that includes Indiana, Ohio State and Duke.

11. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (6-3) (0-0) (LW: 9)

Last Week: L, 77-67 to Ole Miss; L, 69-58 to St. John's; W, 67-64 to Illinois

Highest Position: 9; Lowest Position: 12

In non-conference play, Georgia Tech has done what it was supposed to do (beat bad teams), and have unsurprisingly fallen to the high-quality opponents they've faced (Dayton, Ole Miss, St. John's). That won't hurt their chances in the ACC, but considering those are some of the teams they'll be on the bubble with come March, it's tough not to extrapolate out the impact on their season later on.

12. Maryland Terrapins (6-3) (0-0) (LW: 13)

Last Week: W, 89-62 over Morgan State; L, 76-60 to Ohio State

Highest Position: 10; Lowest Position:14

The Terps endured a rough start to the season, though things could rebound by the end of December. Maryland should not face another ranked team until January (likely Pitt, who should be top 25 by then), which means they could be looking at a 12-3 mark before jumping into league play in earnest. The top priority for them over the next few weeks then should be scoring. They've already struggled to score more than 70 points four different times this year.

13. Virginia Tech Hokies (3-1) (0-0) (LW: 14)

Last Week: W, 81-56 over Radford; W, 81-63 over Winthrop

Highest Position: 11; Lowest Position: 14

Are we chalking up that SC Upstate loss to a bad night yet? The Hokies haven't been overwhelming since that contest, but victories over lesser teams is at least a step in the right direction. Jarell Eddie has taken full advantage of the competition level too, putting up nearly 19 points per game while trying to pick up where the departed Erick Green left off.

14. Miami Hurricanes (5-4) (0-0) (LW: 10)

Last Week: L, 71-63 to George Washington W, 48-46 over Cal-State Fullerton; W, 60-57 over Arizona State; L, 60-49 to Nebraska

Highest Position: 13; Lowest Position: 14

The 'Canes haven't played a home game since November 21 (a loss to UCF), so part of this record might be understandable for a below-average squad. But after watching their futility against Nebraska, it's hard to see a bright outlook for Miami at all. Since two strong games early last month, they've struggled to make it to the 60-point mark and are only shooting about 40-percent on the season.

15. Boston College Eagles (3-5) (0-0) (LW: 15)

Last Week: L, 88-67 to Purdue

Highest Position: 15; Lowest Position: 15

Give Oliver Hanlan and Ryan Anderson some credit -- they're trying to keep this team in games by scoring (they combined for 39.5 points per game right now). However, the defense is simply deplorable for the Eagles, who just can't seem to stop anyone at all. Letting up 81 points per game on 47.5-percent shooting is not going help win many games. Until they fix it, BC is dead and buried before conference play even starts.