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ACC basketball rankings: Virginia & Florida State reign supreme; Syracuse rises, Duke & Clemson fall

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We’re back for another edition of ACC basketball rankings.

NCAA Basketball: Florida State at Louisville Scott Utterback-USA TODAY Sports

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

The cream has risen to the top in this league as Virginia and Florida State emerged as front-runners, which means everyone is finally coming around to the idea of the ACC having contenders come March. Elsewhere in the world of talking heads, the college basketball cognoscenti are starting to debate whether or not conference tournaments make sense for certain teams (in favor of staying safe for the NCAA Tournament).

Also of note, a Hall of Fame coach sounded off on a student journalist and three of the top brands in the league are fighting for their tournament lives and no, that doesn’t mean Pittsburgh.

We’ll dive into the rankings, but before we do we’re once again joined by Dick Vitale who offers his thoughts on the ACC:

Okay, onto the conference hierarchy. As we do every week, we continue along with our weekly bomb-throwing in rankings* form.

*These rankings are backed by an undisclosed methodology
NCAA Basketball: Virginia at Clemson
Is that Tyler Lydon or Jay Huff?
Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

1. Virginia (11-2, 7-0), Ken Pom: 7

Last week: Wins over Georgia Tech, Syracuse

Previous ranking: 1

For the first time in a long time, we don’t have a new king in ACC basketball rankings. Virginia retains its top spot as Kihei Clark hit the go ahead bucket over Georgia Tech to get the win and the Cavaliers dismantled Syracuse at home without much strife.

Sam Hauser has scored over 20 points in two straight games and Jay Huff is just one bucket shy of that same feat. The Hoos eviscerated the Syracuse zone on Monday as Hauser got loose for seven 3s and Huff finished with a double-double, scoring 21 points and grabbing 12 rees.

Since losing to Gonzaga, this team has ripped off seven straight wins. Is Virginia peaking too soon or is this team a force to be reckoned with come March?

NCAA Basketball: Florida State at Louisville
Balsa Koprivica flashes his guard-like skills. Dime.
Scott Utterback-USA TODAY Sports

2. Florida State (9-2, 5-1), Ken Pom: 15

Last week: Win at Louisville, win over Clemson

Previous ranking: 2

Since coming off a pause Florida State has been downright dominant, winning three of its four games by double-digits. The Seminoles are playing as well as anyone with a roster deeper than Western philosophy. It seems like somebody new emerges each night. Senior guard M.J. Walker has been steady and Malik Osborne has stepped up off the bench.

Balsa Koprivica is not as soft as balsa wood. He had a double-double against Clemson and runs the floor like an elegant gazelle. He’s like a 7-foot-1 guard when doing stuff like this:

Get you a center that can do both.

3. Louisville (10-3, 5-2), Ken Pom: 37

Last week: Loss to Florida State, win over Duke

Previous ranking: 5

Louisville lost to Florida State (who doesn’t?) but took care of Duke at home. Carlik Jones is playing some of the best basketball in the league. He put up 17 in the loss at FSU and dropped 24 on Duke while dishing out five helpers.

Unbiased Luke Hancock weighed in on his play:

He’s not wrong, but Justin Champagnie would like a word.

Jones is a candidate for both the Bob Cousy Award and ACC POTY. Can he carry Louisville to the postseason?

4. North Carolina (10-5, 5-3), Ken Pom: 36

Last week: Wins over Wake Forest, N.C. State

Previous ranking: 7

Roy Williams decided to take a page out of Jim Boeheim’s book and settle for life on the bubble. The Tar Heels don’t have any great wins but took care of a pair of conference bottom-feeders. Still, North Carolina was impressive in doing so and look to be turning a corner.

The Heels have had some strong play from its guards in recent weeks as Caleb Love has started to emerge and R.J. Davis’ contributions have been meaningful off the bench. We know what the Carolina bigs are capable of, but if the guards play through UNC has a good chance to earn a tournament bid make the tournament because of its brand.

5. Virginia Tech (11-3, 5-2), Ken Pom: 45

Last week: Loss at Syracuse

Previous ranking: 3

Virginia Tech has fallen in the rankings after a loss at Syracuse, but still holds firm at No. 5 with the best non-conference win in the league (over Villanova).

The Hokies have suspended Tyrece Radford indefinitely “for not upholding the high standards Virginia Tech has for its students and athletes.” Radford made a mistake, but let’s reserve judgement for now. His on-court contributions will be missed as he leads the team in minutes and is second in both scoring and assists.

Virginia Tech will have to rebound quickly with a road game at Notre Dame and home game against Virginia on Saturday.

NCAA Basketball: Duke at Pittsburgh
Justin Champagnie has been dominant for Pittsburgh in his return
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

6. Pittsburgh (8-3, 4-2), Ken Pom: 66

Last week: Win over Duke, loss to Wake Forest

Previous ranking: 8

Pittsburgh had an impressive home win over Duke, only to suffer a let down on the road at Wake Forest.

Other than Louisville fans, does anyone think there’s an ACC player more important to their team than Champagnie? He’s averaging 24 points and 12.7 rebounds per game since his return and still leads the league in both scoring and rebounding.

7. Syracuse (9-5, 3-4), Ken Pom: 43

Last week: Wins over Miami, Virginia Tech, owned at Virginia

Previous ranking: 11

Syracuse put together two impressive games last week, only to chuck up a bunch of bricks against Virginia at a rate that would make 2017-18 Pittsburgh jealous. This team has been inconsistent, but its ceiling makes you think this team can still make a run toward the tournament.

The offense has been the strength of this team. Syracuse’s defense, on the other hand, has left much to be desired but it couldn’t possibly be the fault of the guards.

8. Georgia Tech (7-4, 3-2), Ken Pom: 58

Last week: Win over Clemson, loss to Virginia

Previous ranking: 10

Georgia Tech had a blowout win over Clemson and gave Virginia all it could handle. Michael Devoe had a desperation shot for the chance to beat UVa and it almost went down, but almost only counts in horseshoes. GT settles in at No. 8.

Jose Alvarado and Moses Wright just might be the best one-two punch in the league.

NCAA Basketball: Virginia at Clemson
Clemson waves goodbye to a low NCAA Tournament seed
Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

9. Clemson (9-4, 3-4), Ken Pom: 50

Last week: Losses at Georgia Tech, to Florida State

Previous ranking: 4

Did Virginia break Clemson?

Brad Brownell’s team has fallen from grace, losing three straight as the poor offense has come back to bite. The Tigers haven’t been competitive in weeks and the defense has surrendered 80 points or more for three straight games.

Can Vice Principal Brownell get his guys back on track?

10. Duke (5-5, 3-3), Ken Pom: 34

Last week: Losses at Pittsburgh, Louisville

Previous ranking: 6

Can’t we all just have some empathy for Duke? The Blue Devils have lost three straight and now sit outside of the tournament picture completely. They had two chances to tie it at late at Louisville, but a pair of missed 3s and a jump ball gave Louisville possession and the win.

One year after yelling at the Cameron Crazies, Coach K is back to patronize Duke students as he came down on a student journalist with a terrible analogy, claiming his innocuous question wasn’t being very empathetic.

Imagine being the most respected coach in modern college basketball, winning five National Championships and asking for empathy from a student journo.

At least K came in with the Nate Oats apology.

***

We interrupt these rankings to bring you ACC basketball trivia, brought to you by Coach K’s crocodile tears and Harris Teeter.

Poll

Duke is in danger of missing the 2021 NCAA Tournament. When was the last time the Blue Devils didn’t earn a bid (not including 2020)?

This poll is closed

  • 34%
    1982-83
    (64 votes)
  • 41%
    1994-95
    (77 votes)
  • 13%
    2001-02
    (24 votes)
  • 10%
    2007-08
    (19 votes)
184 votes total Vote Now

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

Now back to your regularly scheduled jokes and garbage.

11. N.C. State (6-5, 2-4), Ken Pom: 68

Last week: Loss to UNC

Previous ranking: 9

Coming off pause, N.C. State fell to North Carolina. No shame in that but teams previously ranked lower than the Wolfpack had wins to rise above.

12. Notre Dame (5-8, 2-5), Ken Pom: 78

Last week: Win over Miami

Previous ranking: 13

Notre Dame has put together two straight wins, albeit against two of the three teams below it in the rankings (Miami, BC). Nate Laszewski continues to impress as he leads the ACC in field goal percentage and he’s fourth in rebounding.

But the Irish defense is still deplorable. This team couldn’t stop traffic at a four-way intersection.

13. Miami (6-8, 2-7), Ken Pom: 99

Last week: Loss at Syracuse, to Notre Dame

Previous ranking: 12

Miami is snake-bit with injury. After reinstating freshman Earl Timberlake against Syracuse, the team announced he’d be out indefinitely due to a “left shoulder injury.” Timberlake previous missed time due to an abscess on his left arm.

Miami has dropped eight of its last 11 games. Isaiah Wong did this against Notre Dame, but that’s about all the Hurricanes have going for themselves right now.

14. Wake Forest (4-6, 1-6), Ken Pom: 119

Last week: Loss to UNC, win over Pitt

Previous ranking: 15

Wake Forest held on for dear life for a win over Pittsburgh. Hats of to Wake for getting the defensive stand to escape with its first ACC win under Steve Forbes. That’s just enough to rise one spot out of the basement.

15. Boston College (3-10, 1-6), Ken Pom: 95

Last week: On pause

Previous ranking: 14

Boston College remains on pause due to a positive Covid-19 case within the program. Let’s hope all are healthy, but not having to see Boston College play is a blessing in disguise.

Answer to the ACC basketball trivia question: 1994-95. Pete Gaudet took over for Mike Krzyzewski, who missed the season due to back surgery, while Duke failed to make the NCAA Tournament.