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ACC basketball rankings: Duke vs. North Carolina always delivers

Even in a down year, Duke vs. UNC is still a great rivalry

Duke v North Carolina Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

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

What a week it was in ACC basketball, culminating in an overtime thriller between Duke and North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Those jerseys are still MY EYES level of painful, but it’s hard to argue against Duke and UNC delivering as the greatest scrimmage of all-time.

Outside of that, it was a relatively mild week in the conference as not one ACC coach blew a gasket. Virginia let go of a great opportunity to bolster its NCAA Tournament résumé at Louisville while Virginia Tech is in complete free fall. Clemson, Wake Forest and Miami continue to lose games to the surprise of absolutely nobody. Outside of Louisville, Florida State and Duke its not clear if any team in the conference can make a tournament push.

Let’s dive into the conference hierarchy, shall we? As a reminder, these rankings are backed by an undisclosed methodology.

1. Louisville (21-3, 12-1)

Last week: Win over Wake Forest, win over Virginia

Louisville holds its top spot in the conference after winning against Wake and keeping Virginia at bay. The Cardinals have now won ten straight games. You know the vibes.

Jordan Nwora reclaimed his throne as leading scorer in the ACC after dropping 21 and 22 point games last week. Malik Williams is a problem.

Ryan McMahon took eight shots last week and seven of them were from beyond the arc. Legend.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 03 North Carolina at Florida State
Balsa Koprivica is playing as soft as balsa wood but he’s still my boy
Photo by David Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

2. Florida State (20-3, 12-2)

Last week: Win over North Carolina, win over Miami

Some coaches might get caught up trying to be media darlings, but all Leonard Hamilton does is stack Ws by quietly going about his business. We’re still not talking enough about Florida State.

It was a big week for the precocious freshman Patrick Williams, who showed observers why he’s an NBA talent. In two games, Williams had 28 points on just 13 shots. He grabbed 14 boards to boot.

By the by, how the heck did Florida State give 16 players run against Miami? That has to be some sort of record.

Anyhow, Florida State completed the sweep against Florida teams this season by taking down Miami for the second time this year. The ‘Noles are 4-0 against foes in the Sunshine State, taking down Florida, USF and Miami twice.

FSU has won 13 of its last 14 games. Ham Sauce is the truth. Could a face like this ever lie?

3. Duke (20-3, 12-2)

Last week: Win at Boston College, win at North Carolina

Which Duke player do you think will win ACC Player of the Year, Tre Jones or Vernon Carey?

Earlier in the week Duke escaped Chestnut Hill with a narrow win over Boston College. Jordan Goldwire was smoking lay-ups, but Cassius Stanley did do this.

NCAA Basketball: Duke at Boston College
Peep the bunnies. Cassius Stanley is just different at the rim.
Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

And then on Saturday we were treated to the best game of the 2019-20 college basketball season. Even in a year when UNC is as deplorable as it is, Duke vs. North Carolina ALWAYS delivers (Jay Bilas voice). The game itself was so great that it made everyone forget just how awful those jerseys were.

Seriously though, how the hell did Duke even win at North Carolina? UNC had a 7 point lead with just over one minute left in regulation and then Tre Jones happened. I’ve watched the final minutes numerous times and I still can’t make sense of it. Jones converted on some tough finishes down the stretch and that jumper as time expired was a heck of a play. He even missed free throws in an impressive fashion.

And how about Wendell Moore? After he just returned from a wrist injury two Saturdays ago, he hunts down an offensive rebound for a game-winning tip in as time expires in overtime. The Charlotte native grew up watching this rivalry and said his game-winner meant everything to him. You couldn’t write it any better.

All I really want to know is one thing though: If Joey Baker scores 12 points, is it still considered a Baker’s dozen?

Duke v North Carolina
Joey Baker wears No. 13 yet nobody has picked up on how clever he is.
Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images


We interrupt these rankings to bring you ACC basketball trivia, brought to you in part by Coach K’s horn sets and Mellow Mushroom.


Duke’s Wendell Moore had the game-winning buzzer beater to take down North Carolina. Who was the last Duke player to hit a buzzer beater against UNC?

This poll is closed

  • 69%
    Austin Rivers
    (118 votes)
  • 1%
    Daniel Ewing
    (2 votes)
  • 9%
    JJ Redick
    (16 votes)
  • 1%
    Gene Banks
    (3 votes)
  • 18%
    Tre Jones
    (31 votes)
170 votes total Vote Now

The answer to the ACC basketball trivia question will be released from my twitter account at noon. Follow me there @JamesSzuba for the answer.

Now back to your regularly scheduled jokes & garbage.


4. Virginia (15-7, 7-5)

Last week: Win over Clemson, loss at Louisville

Virginia still holds down the No. 4 spot as there’s no shame in losing to Louisville despite it being a missed opportunity. If any team beyond the top three is capable of making a push towards a tournament berth, it just might be Virginia.

The emergence of Tomas Woldetensae as a consistent 3-point threat has been a game-changer for the Hoos. He dropped 27 points on seven made 3s against Louisville, but the Cavaliers will need more help off the bench if it wants to make a tournament push.

NCAA Basketball: Wake Forest at Syracuse
Not all heroes wear capes. Some just wear masks.
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

5. Syracuse (14-9, 7-5)

Last week: Win over Wake Forest

Syracuse only had one game last week. Brycen Goodine delivered the game-winning put-back against Wake with 1.5 seconds left.

The biggest news of the week for Syracuse occurred when the Orange picked up a commitment from the No. 4 recruit in the class of 2022. That could only mean one thing in Orange Nation, baby.

Syracuse 2023 National Champs!

6. NC State (15-8, 6-6)

Last week: Win over Miami

Only one game last week for NC State as well, an 83-72 win against Miami.

CJ Bryce and Markell Johnson both posted double-doubles as the former had 22 points and 11 boards while the latter had 19 points and 12 dimes.

You’d think Braxton Beverly was the name of a country singer, but it’s actually the name of NC State’s best shooter. He connected on four deep balls against The U.

7. Notre Dame (14-8, 5-6)

Last week: Win over Pitt, win at Clemson

You know it’s an aberrational week when Rex Pflueger drops 18 points and goes 4-4 from 3-point land in a single game. He kind of balled at Clemson before fouling out.

Guess how many double-doubles John Mooney had last week though? I’ll give you a hint: two.

8. Pittsburgh (15-9, 6-7)

Last week: Loss to Notre Dame, win over Georgia Tech

Pittsburgh split last week after losing to Notre Dame and handling Georgia Tech.

Justin Champagnie looks like a future star in the ACC. He scored 50 points and grabbed 20 res in two games last week.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 04 Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech
Mike Young is still trying to figure out what hit him
Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

9. Virginia Tech (14-10, 5-8)

Last week: Loss to Georgia Tech, loss to Boston College

Virginia Tech is in total free fall. After losing its last five games, the Hokies are a lot closer to where most pegged them in the preseason.

The good news for Virginia Tech fans is Cassell Coliseum can’t fall any further as an ACC basketball venue because it’s already at the bottom.

10. Boston College (12-12, 6-7)

Last week: Loss to Duke, win over Virginia Tech

How does Boston College even beat teams? You know it’s a down year in the conference when BC is the tenth best team in the ACC.

11. Clemson (11-11, 5-7)

Last week: Loss to Virginia, loss to Notre Dame

Clemson basketball came and went faster than you can say Denny’s.

Freshman Alex Hemingway came out of nowhere to lead Clemson in scoring in the loss to Notre Dame on Sunday night. He dropped 16 points on the Irish. The most Clemson basketball thing.

12. Georgia Tech (11-13, 5-8)

Last week: Win over Virginia Tech, loss to Pitt

Georgia Tech is a different team with Jose Alvarado in the fold. He dropped 20 on Virginia Tech and dished out 6 helpers too. Unfortunately, different doesn’t necessarily mean good.

13. North Carolina (10-13, 3-9)

Last week: Loss to Florida State, loss to Duke

North Carolina has completely sh*t the bed. Even when it plays well the Tar Heels still find a way to lose. Against Duke on Saturday, UNC had a seven point lead with 71 seconds remaining and couldn’t close out the game. I don’t want to hear anything about Andrew Platek being fouled, either. UNC had a three possession lead with just over a minute left.

If we had to describe North Carolina’s season in one picture, it would be this one:

NCAA Basketball: Duke at North Carolina
Tfw you just miss out on two Bojangles biscuits for $1 because your team didn’t score 100 points
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

14. Miami (11-12, 3-10)

Last week: Loss to NC State, Loss to Florida State

Miami finally got a healthy Chris Lykes back, but outside of that there wasn’t a whole lot to Lykes about Miami last week. Isaiah Wong did show some promise — he’s going to a tough guard for future ACC opponents.

But the ‘Canes took on a pair of losses last week to NC State and Florida State. The Miami front-court continues to drag its feet as the backcourt is forced to do all the heavy lifting.

I’m contractually obligated to say DJ Vasiljevic is the best shooter in the ACC in every rankings piece, but not even I can believe that now. He’s in a prolonged shooting slump, which is a shame as Vasiljevic is just 29 made 3s away from the all-time record in 3-point makes at The U.

15. Wake Forest (10-13, 3-10)

Last week: Loss to Louisville, loss at Syracuse

Wake Forest has lost at an incredible rate this season. One has to marvel at the Demon Deacons’ ability to lose games. Danny Manning is on borrowed time despite his substantial buyout.

We can only wait with bated breath for Wake to continue one of college basketball’s most recent traditions by hiring a former player as its head coach in Tim Duncan.