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ACC basketball rankings: Syracuse and Clemson rise, Duke and Miami slide

Clemson makes the biggest jump and Duke makes the biggest slide in the third week of ACC basketball rankings.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 12 Syracuse at Boston College Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Ladies and gentlemen, girls and boys, we welcome you back for another week of the proud, preeminent, TNIAAM ACC basketball rankings.

Week three is in the books and what a week it was, beginning with the annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge and ending with games being canceled/postponed. To highlight, the Big Ten took home the challenge by a 6-5 margin. Coach K decided to forego the remainder of Duke’s non-conference schedule (but play Notre Dame on Wednesday?) and Josh Pastner thought a COVID ball piñata was a good idea.

By the by, we introduced Ken Pomeroy rankings to add color to ours. For the uninitiated, is a tempo-free advanced analytics website which keeps stats on all Division I men’s basketball teams. The metrics rank teams based on adjusted efficiency, a measure of how well teams play offense and defense, adjusted for possession.

With that said, we dive into the conference hierarchy* for the third week of the 2020-21 college basketball season.

*These rankings are backed by an undisclosed methodology

1. Florida State (3-0), Ken Pom: 14

Last week: Wins over Indiana and Florida

Florida State freshman Scottie Barnes had quite the week. While only scoring nine points against Indiana, Barnes had what will go down as one of the better moments of the season with a Euro step game-winner in the closing seconds against IU.

Barnes then scored 17 points and dished out five assists in a win against Florida. MJ Walker is ready to lead Florida State; he added 17 against Florida on 12-12 shooting from the free throw line.

A scary moment occurred when Florida player Keyontae Johnson collapsed and was rushed to a local hospital in the early going of that contest. Florida officials have stated that Johnson is in critical but stable condition. Here’s to hoping Johnson will recover just fine.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 12 Holiday Hoopsgiving - Alabama v Clemson
Principal Brownell pounds Nate Oats presumably for his comments on Coach K. Nice use of the back pocket, principal.
Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

2. Clemson (5-0), Ken Pom: 20

Last week: Wins over Maryland and Alabama

Clemson jumps five spots in the rankings this week, which might seem odd until you consider the team’s four wins over top 100 Ken Pom teams. The Tigers boast the second best defensive efficiency ranking in the country (KenPom). A balanced offensive attack has Clemson in the No. 2 spot this week.

Hats off to Principal Brownell for being the leader we need in these times.

3. North Carolina (4-2), Ken Pom: 26

Last week: Loss at Iowa, win over North Carolina Central

North Carolina began the week with a road loss to Iowa. The UNC bigs made things difficult for Player of the Year frontrunner Luka Garza, but gave up 17 3s to the Hawkeyes in doing so.

As expected, North Carolina turned around and handled NC Central by dominating inside and controlling the glass. Armando Bacot and Day’Ron Sharpe looked... sharp.

A 2-15 shooting night from beyond the arc is concerning going forward. Does that provide a window of opportunity for noted legend Andrew Platek?

4. Louisville (4-0), Ken Pom: 22

Last week: Nothing

Louisville remains on pause and Wednesday’s game against NC State has been postponed. As always, the methodology states that if you do nothing in this year’s ACC you will be rewarded for it. This makes no sense in practice.

What’s it going to take to get someone who knows what he or she is doing around these parts?

NCAA Basketball: ACC Tournament-North Carolina vs Virginia Tech
Mike Young eyes the box score after his team’s loss to Penn State
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

5. Virginia Tech (4-1), Ken Pom: 47

Last week: Loss to Penn State

Virginia Tech got smoked by Penn State, allowing 50% shooting. That’s a real shame as the Hokies had a shot at the No. 3 spot this week.

6. Duke (2-2), Ken Pom: 12

Last week: Loss to Illinois

This Duke team is not good, so we’ll spend little time talking about that and instead we’ll pick the low hanging fruit, turning our attention to the drama as any lowly blog would do.

The Blue Devils made headlines (after losing to Illinois) when Mike Krzyzewski questioned whether or not we should be playing college basketball through the coronavirus pandemic. K is absolutely right to question playing, but his timing couldn’t have been worse which made it difficult for some to give him the benefit of the doubt.

As the most powerful voice in college basketball, K sent ripple effects throughout the basketball community, in turn allowing Nate Oats to question if Krzyzewski would be saying this if his team wasn’t 2-2. The backlash issued response from other Hall of Fame coaches such as Jim Boeheim, who came to K’s defense but ultimately disagreed on pausing, and Roy Williams who said he had a tremendous amount of faith in Michael, which just sounds weird.

As in any power structure, there are consequences when you don’t conform and that’s what caused Oats (who had a valid point) to issue a mea culpa to Coach K.

You come at the king...


We interrupt these rankings to bring you ACC basketball trivia, brought to you in part by artificial crowd noise and Nate Oats’ coaching trajectory.


Duke has now lost two non-conference games inside Cameron Indoor. When was the last time that happened?

This poll is closed

  • 9%
    (28 votes)
  • 30%
    (93 votes)
  • 42%
    (132 votes)
  • 17%
    (55 votes)
308 votes total Vote Now

The answer to the ACC basketball trivia question can be found at the bottom of this page.

Now back to your regularly scheduled jokes and garbage.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 12 Syracuse at Boston College
Woody Newton soars above the Eagles for a dunk
Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

7. Syracuse (4-1), Ken Pom: 27

Last week: Loss at Rutgers, win at Boston College

Syracuse had a pair of road games and came out 1-1 on the week, losing at Rutgers and blowing out Boston College. Buddy Boeheim rejoined the team after sitting due to contract tracing and posted 17 points.

Freshmen Kadary Richmond and Woody Newton continue to impress. The Orange have the potential to be a dangerous shooting team.

8. Virginia (3-1), Ken Pom: 19

Last week: Nothing

Virginia is the only team in the rankings this week which did nothing and did not benefit, which seems like a fitting analogy for the Hoos’ offense.

The Hauser vs. Hauser game was canceled due to “COVID-19 issues within the Cavaliers’ program.” Vague if nothing else.

Games against William & Mary and Wake Forest have been postponed.

9. NC State (3-0), Ken Pom: 35

Last week: Nothing

To not break form with our theme of doing nothing and getting rewarded, NC State jumps one spot after Miami took one in the loss column. Don’t blame us. That’s just what the methodology churned out this week.

10. Georgia Tech (2-2), Ken Pom: 71

Last week: Win at Nebraska

Georgia Tech picked up a road win at Nebraska. Jose Alvarado dropped 24 points while Moses Wright had 13 points, eight rebounds a... wait a minute, what do we have here?

Is that a COVID piñata? What are we doing here?

This whole video just screams out of touch. I guess Josh Pastner was going for something metaphoric, defeating COVID or something along those lines. But it comes across as lacking awareness. The only thing more cringeworthy than the video were folks from the internet’s peanut gallery congratulating the Yellow Jackets on the win and fun video.

So yeah, congrats to Georgia Tech on the win! Enjoy those Airheads.

11. Pittsburgh (4-1), Ken Pom: 86

Last week: Win at Northwestern, win against Gardner-Webb

Pittsburgh picked up two wins last week thanks to its big three and notably, Justin Champagnie. He had 44 points and 41 (!) rebounds in two games.

Against Northwestern, Xavier Johnson posted 21 points, seven rebounds and four assists while Au’Diese Toney had 18 points and eight rebounds as the big three edged out a one point win.

12. Miami (3-1), Ken Pom: 57

Last week: Win over Purdue, loss to Florida Gulf Coast

Miami overcame an 18-point halftime deficit against Purdue, completing the comeback all without Chris Lykes.

Equally as impressive was Miami’s loss to Florida Gulf Coast as it let Dunk City shoot 13-30 from deep. That’s enough to place the Hurricanes at the No. 12 spot. An injured team hopes to get healthy soon.

13. Notre Dame (2-2), Ken Pom: 76

Last week: Loss to Ohio State, win over Kentucky

Notre Dame beat Kentucky, which is a bit like striking gold only to realize it’s pyrite. The Irish lost earlier in the week to Ohio State.

Nate Laszewski and Prentiss Hubb put up points in both games, but the Irish bench play and defense leaves much to be desired.

14. Wake Forest (2-0), Ken Pom: 123

Last week: Nothing

To be congruent with the methodology, Wake Forest moves up one spot for sitting on its derriere last week.

15. Boston College (1-5), Ken Pom: 97

Last week: Loss at Minnesota, loss to Syracuse

Boston College is a better team than its 1-5 record suggests, but the methodology demands a 2-0 team to be above a 1-5 team. That just how the cookie crumbles.

Answer to the ACC basketball trivia question: 1982-1983