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ACC basketball rankings: Duke takes spot at the helm while Syracuse ranks fourth

Rankings are here.

NCAA Basketball: Champions Classic-Duke at Kentucky Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

(Ed. note - this post was originally scheduled for Monday, but given the backlog of football and other basketball content we decided to push to Tuesday. We’ll normally have these scheduled for Monday. Games from last night are not included in this post)

Welcome to the first week of Atlantic Coast Conference basketball rankings! In college basketball’s first week, the ACC went undefeated by going 25-0. Chief among the top first week of victories was Duke’s dismantling of Kentucky in the Champion’s Classic on opening night and Florida State’s 21-point victory over in-state SEC power Florida. North Carolina opened the season with two wins on the road while Syracuse has still yet to leave the state of New York...

With that in mind, let’s dive into the first week of conference baskebtall rankings.

  1. Duke (2-0), Last week: 2-0 with wins over Kentucky and Army
NCAA Basketball: Champions Classic-Duke at Kentucky Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

I’ll be honest with you, I was going to slot Virginia in this spot to start the season but after looking like what could be the best offensive team in college basketball and relegating Kentucky to a modified boys basketball team, Duke takes the top spot. The Blue Devils got a tough game from Army down in Durham on Veteran’s Day but the Space Jam Monstars troika of RJ Barrett, Zion Williamson and Cam Reddish won’t be stopped this season.

2. Virginia (2-0), Last week: 2-0 with wins over Towson and George Washington

Virginia did as Virginia does and stymied its first two opponents into poor shooting from both the floor and beyond the arc. The Cavaliers have the No. 1 defensive efficiency rating in Ken Pom and I don’t see them falling out of the top 5 this season. Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome represent one of, if not the best backcourt in the conference.

3. North Carolina (2-0), Last week: 2-0 with wins at Wofford and at Elon

NCAA Basketball: North Carolina at Wofford
Coby White has a tremendous ‘do.
Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Kudos to North Carolina for getting out on the road to start the season. While the Heels got a tough game Wofford, Cam Johnson and Luke Maye stepped up to lead UNC to a victory. Expect those two players and freshmen Coby White and Nassir Little to carry the weight of the offensive load this year.

4. Syracuse (2-0), Last week: 2-0 with wins over Eastern Washington and Morehead State

NCAA Basketball: Morehead State at Syracuse
#BattleFace returns
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Hey, that’s us. Syracuse got off to a big win over Eastern Washington before playing a sloppy game at home against Morehead State on Saturday. Oshae Brissett is on another level this year while Tyus Battle broke out of a mini shooting slump in the second half of Saturday’s game. Once healthy, the Orange should be in the top of the conference standings and should be a top-25 team all year.

5. Florida State (2-0), Last week: 2-0 with wins over Florida and Tulane

Florida State opened the season with a win at home over Florida and followed that up with a win against Tulane on the road. PJ Savoy, Terance Mann, Trent Forrest, Christ Koumadje and MJ Walker are all back from an Elite 8 squad last season. FSU is sneaky good.

6. Virginia Tech (1-0), Last week: 1-0 with a win over Gardner-Webb

NCAA Basketball: Gardner-Webb at Virginia Tech
Get familiar with Nickeil Alexander-Walker
Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports

If it weren’t for the Chris Clarke fiasco, I’d heavily consider putting Virginia Tech fourth. Justin Robinson is dynamic off the bounce and is more than capable of knocking down shots from range. Nickeil Alexander-Walker is a lethal scorer who I expect to have a much larger role on this year’s team and freshman Isaiah Wilkins dropped 21 points in his first collegiate game. Let’s not sleep on Kerry Blackshear, either. Buzz Williams has his best team ever at VT this season.

7. Clemson (2-0), Last week: 2-0 with wins over Citadel and NC Central

Gabe Devoe has since graduated, but Clemson returns Shelton Mitchell, Marcquise Reed, Aamir Simms and David Skara and Elijah Thomas from a Sweet 16 team. Expect Mitchell and Reed to do the heavy lifting on the offensive end for a top-25 offensive attack.

8. Notre Dame (2-0), Last week: 2-0 with wins over UIC and Chicago State

Notre Dame loses Bonzie Colson and Matt Farrell, but Mike Brey always seems to have veterans on his roster. Rex Pflueger and TJ Gibbs are expected to step up as upperclassmen while John Mooney and D.J. Harvey will go from role players to having more of a featured role at Notre Dame. Nate Laszewski is just a freshman but he gives out buckets.

9. NC State (2-0), Last week: 2-0 with wins over Mt. Saint Mary’s and Maryland Eastern Shore

Nothing like starting your season off with a pair of blowouts against plus-300 Ken Pom opponents. NC State is led by second-year head coach Kevin Keatts and is coming off an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2017-18. Look for State to ride the bubble this season.

10. Miami (1-0), Last week: 1-0 with a win over Lehigh

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Dallas Practice
This dude gets a lot of likes on social media.
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Miami loses Bruce Brown and Lonnie Walker to the NBA but Miami should be in the mix this year for a tournament bid. Chris Lykes might be the most entertaining player in the conference while Anthony Lawrence and DJ Vasiljevic are wet from distance. Jim Larranaga’s team isn’t deep, but what Miami lacks in depth it will try to make up with outside shooting.

11. Louisville (1-0), Last week: 1-0 with a win over Nicholls State

First year Louisville head coach Chris Mack starts his coaching tenure in the ACC with a win. UConn transfer Steve Enoch is supposed to be a big lift while VJ King will help solidify the front-court. Expect Darius Perry and Buffalo native Jordan Nwora to step up in the back-court.

12. Boston College (2-0), Last week: 2-0 with wins over Milwaukee and St. Francis Brooklyn

Jerome Robinson left for the NBA and turned himself into a lottery pick but his dynamic back-court mate Ky Bowman is back and just might lead the conference in scoring. BC started the season off with a pair of wins thanks to Bowman’s 19 and 26 point performances.

13. Wake Forest (1-0), Last week: 1-0 with a win over NC A&T

Brandon Childress and freshman Jaylen Hoard are going to have to have tremendous seasons if Wake wants to make some noise in the conference.

14. Pittsburgh (2-0), Last week: 2-0 with wins over Youngstown State and VMI

Jeff Capel was a very capable hire at Pitt — don’t expect the Panthers to go winless in the conference this season. Still, a long rebuild effort awaits for Pitt as turnover begins and a roster retooled of transfers looks to get this program back on the map.

15. Georgia Tech (1-0), Last week: 1-0 with a win over Lamar

GT doesn’t look to a be a real player in the conference. Jose Alvarado has a lot of work to do if he wants to lead his team out of the conference basement.