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ACC basketball rankings: Clemson is back, Pittsburgh falls; Duke-North Carolina delivers?

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Duke-North Carolina might have staying power even in a pandemic, but this year’s rendition will likely only be remembered for not having fans.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 19 CBS Sports Classic - Kentucky v North Carolina Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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

As a Young Jeezy aficionado once said: Duke-North Carolina always* delivers.

This wasn’t your father’s Duke-Carolina matchup. It’s more likely to remembered for not having fans than it will be for a great competition. That, or it’ll be remembered as the Caleb Love game.

Duke-UNC was still entertaining and close down the stretch, but the atmosphere was obviously lacking. The talent on both sides also left something to be desired. Nevertheless, North Carolina handled Duke inside Cameron with clutch free throws late.

Elsewhere around the league, Virginia Tech forced the ACC’s second overtime game as a clutch Hunter Cattoor triple at the end of regulation gave the Hokies extra life and an eventual win over snake-bitten Miami. And just when you thought a solid top was starting to form in the league, the crabs in the barrel pulled the ascenders (slightly) back down to earth.

Other teams in the league have gone on pause and games have been “postponed”, which makes you think the conference should’ve just bubbled in Greensboro.

Anyway, as we edge into February and March Madness draws closer, we’ve added NET (NCAA Evaluation Tool) rankings to our... rankings. As a refresher, NET has replaced the RPI as the chief sorting tool used to evaluate teams for the NCAA Tournament (refresher here).

Without further ado, we dive in the conference hierarchy†.

*Except for times in a pandemic
These rankings are backed by an undisclosed methodology
Towson v Virginia
Sam Hauser continues his solid play for UVA
Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

1. Virginia (13-3, 9-1), Ken Pom: 9, NET: 6

Last two weeks: Loss at Virginia Tech; wins over NC State, Pitt

Previous ranking: 1

Virginia proved that it’s not invincible and actually lost a conference game at Virginia Tech two Saturdays ago. The Hoos led by 10 in the second half, but went scoreless for a seven minute stretch, which allowed the Hokies to take down its in-state rival. Virginia rebounded with wins over NC State and Pittsburgh to move to 9-1 in ACC play. Tomas Woldetensae also met his once-a-month made-shot quota. He’s good for the month of February and won’t reemerge until March.

Sam Hauser put up 18 and 23 points, respectively, in wins over NC State and Pittsburgh. He’s a First Team All-ACC player.

2. Florida State (10-3, 6-2), Ken Pom: 17, NET: 23

Last two weeks: Win over Miami, loss at Georgia Tech

Previous ranking: 2

In a matchup between the deepest and most depleted rosters in the ACC, Florida State took down Miami. The Seminoles then lost to Georgia Tech and went on pause shortly thereafter.

The pause postponed a game against Boston College, which means the walk-ons at Boston College were spared the indignity of guarding the freaks on Leonard Hamilton’s roster. It would’ve been fun to see Wilt Chamberlain’s duplicate Balsa Koprivica dunk on a few 6’1” guys.

NCAA Basketball: Virginia Tech at Miami-Florida
Hunter Cattoor made the game-tying three against Miami to force OT.
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

3. Virginia Tech (14-4, 8-3), Ken Pom: 36, NET: 36

Last two weeks: Wins over Notre Dame, Virginia, Miami; loss to Pitt

Previous ranking: 5

Virginia Tech defended its home court and picked up its second best win of the season with a comeback against Virginia.

Then Hunter Cattoor played hero by making the game-tying three against Miami as time expired. His shot forced overtime and allowed the Hokies to win.

How’d he get so open anyway?

4. Louisville (11-4, 6-3), Ken Pom: 31, NET: 35

Last two weeks: Loss to Clemson, win over Georgia Tech

Previous ranking: 3

Louisville lost to Clemson and picked up a win over Georgia Tech before going on pause due to a positive case within the Cardinal program. What really sucks is that Louisville made the trip to Syracuse only to realize they couldn’t play. Imagine traveling all the way to Central New York only to freeze your a** off and be told you have to turn around and go home. What a waste of time and resources.

Anyway, before going on pause David Johnson put up 24 on Georgia Tech and Samuell Williamson scored 20 and grabbed 18 boards.

5. North Carolina (12-6, 7-4), Ken Pom: 40, NET: 50

Last two weeks: Wins over Pittsburgh, Duke; loss to Clemson

Previous ranking: 4

North Carolina lost to Clemson but put together wins against Pittsburgh and Duke. The Tar Heels are trending toward the NCAA Tournament. Duke is trending toward Kentucky.

All five Carolina starters scored in double-figures at Duke and Day’Ron Sharpe was one rebound shy of a double-double despite logging only 17 minutes. Caleb Love stepped up with a career-high, scoring 25 points including this dunk:

If you’re trailing the break and trying to make a play on the ball like that you best come correct. Should’ve just hit the Brakesfield.

***

We interrupt these rankings to bring you ACC basketball trivia, brought to you in part by Kickerball and the spurtle.

Poll

Duke and North Carolina both entered Saturday’s matchup unranked. When was the last time that happened?

This poll is closed

  • 15%
    1998
    (14 votes)
  • 6%
    2009
    (6 votes)
  • 49%
    1960
    (44 votes)
  • 28%
    1980
    (25 votes)
89 votes total Vote Now

The answer to the trivia question can be found on the bottom of this page. Now back to your regularly scheduled jokes and garbage.

6. Clemson (12-5, 6-5), Ken Pom: 47, NET: 47

Last two weeks: Wins over Louisville, UNC, Syracuse; loss to Duke

Previous ranking: 9

After nearly being broken by Virginia and falling out of tournament consideration, the Clemson Tigers are back! Vice Principal Brownell and his boa constrictor defense has squeezed the life out of teams. Clemson has won three of its last four.

Clemson is so good defensively (and Syracuse is so bad) that the Tigers turned the ball over 17 times and still handled the Orange by 17 points. It held Louisville and North Carolina to 50 points each. The Tigers are trending toward the tournament with a combined eight quadrant one and quadrant two wins and a light conference schedule down the stretch.

7. Georgia Tech (9-6, 5-4), Ken Pom: 55, NET: 62

Last two weeks: Losses to Duke, Louisville; win over Notre Dame

Previous ranking: 8

Georgia Tech just might be the most confounding team in the ACC and I don’t mean that in a good way. I mean Georgia Tech has wins over Florida State and UNC, but a loss to Duke and near loss to Notre Dame. It almost fell to a bad Irish squad, needing to overcome a 17-point halftime deficit to escape with a two point win.

You never really know what you’re going to get out of this mercurial Georgia Tech squad, but guys like Jose Alvarado, Moses Wright, Michael Devoe and Jordan Usher form a solid core.

8. Pittsburgh (9-6, 5-5), Ken Pom: 76, NET: 76

Last two weeks: Losses to UNC, Virginia; waxed by Notre Dame; win over Virginia Tech

Previous ranking: 6

Pittsburgh is in this spot because there’s no one else.

No Achilles, there’s really not.

The Panthers have lost three of four and have entered a state free fall despite the strong play of Justin Champagnie. Just when you think Pittsburgh can make a run they fall flat on their face. You really hate to see it.

NCAA Basketball: Miami-Florida at Syracuse
The lunchtime YMCA players will attempt to right Syracuse’s ship down the stretch.
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

9. Syracuse (10-6, 4-5), Ken Pom: 54, NET: 54

Last two weeks: Win over NC State; owned at Clemson

Previous ranking: 7

Syracuse finds a bit of support at the nine spot as the teams below it... how to put this? suck. The Orange beat NC State, had its game against Louisville postponed and got shellacked at Clemson to fall to 1-5 in road games. Maybe the fans really don’t matter?

The Orange had a rather unconventional basketball strategy against Clemson and experienced wild success. Syracuse attempted to miss every shot it took in the first half against the Tigers and they performed to near perfection. In fact, the Orange only failed three times in the first 20 minutes. You just don’t see execution like that in college basketball anymore, especially in a year like this.

10. Duke (7-7, 5-5), Ken Pom: 35, NET: 70

Last two weeks: Wins over Georgia Tech, Clemson; loss at Miami, North Carolina

Previous ranking: 10

Before losing to Miami, Duke took down Clemson at home where Jalen Johnson did this:

That’s a body bag, which is coincidentally where Duke’s NCAA Tournament hopes went after losing to North Carolina on Saturday. Duke is trending toward irrelevance this year as Mike Krzyzewski’s players look entirely disinterested in playing defense. Duke now needs to win the ACC Tournament to make the big dance.

Let’s not look too far ahead though. We should all have some empathy for Duke. Besides, who would want to speculate on the Blue Devils missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1995?

11. NC State (8-7, 4-6), Ken Pom: 71, NET: 77

Last two weeks: Win over Wake, losses at Syracuse, Virginia

Previous ranking: 11

NC State took down Wake but suffered losses at Syracuse and Virginia without DJ Funderburk. The big man was held out for “disciplinary reasons.” You never want to speculate, but it’s safe to say Kevin Keatts is just looking for reasons to explain why his team is bad.

12. Notre Dame (7-10, 4-7), Ken Pom: 61, NET: 72

Last two weeks: Losses to Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech; wins over Pittsburgh, Wake Forest

Previous ranking: 12

Notre Dame beat Wake Forest and took down a spiraling Pittsburgh team. Frankly, losses to Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech were expected. Nate Laszewski continues to score at will. Given that Duke is deplorable, Laszewski just might be the best chefski in the ACC currently.

But not even Lazewski’s play or Mike Brey’s charm could save them from a sub .500 season. Notre Dame is bad and its defense is worse. The Irish couldn’t stop a nosebleed.

13. Miami (7-11, 3-10), Ken Pom: 120, NET: 147

Last two weeks: Losses to Florida State, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech; win over Duke

Previous ranking: 13

Had Miami not beaten Duke, the Hurricanes would’ve been below Wake Forest in the rankings. But the shorthanded Hurricanes won as Stony Brook transfer Elijah Olaniyi scored 21 on Duke while Isaiah Wong and Anthony Walker had 16 a piece.

Isaiah Wong came in with the theatrics against Virginia Tech. He nailed a triple with just over two seconds remaining to put Miami up three. But Virginia Tech’s Cattoor hit a game-tying three in regulation that led to a Hurricanes loss in extra time. Miami can’t catch a break.

14. Wake Forest (5-8, 2-8), Ken Pom: 118, NET: 123

Last two weeks: Losses to N.C. State, Notre Dame; win over Miami

Previous ranking: 14

Wake Forest? More like Sleep Forest.

Shut up. I’m fresh outta jokes.

There are only so many ways you can talk about a team as boring as Super Bowl LV.

15. Boston College (3-11, 1-7), Ken Pom: 113, NET: 148

Last two weeks: Loss to NC State

Previous ranking: 15

Boston College began pause after Jan. 16, but returned to play NC State with six scholarship players. The Eagles gave up a 37-3 run and lost.

I know, I’m just as surprised as you.

The administration at BC was ready to throw its team to the wolves against Florida State earlier last week as only four scholarship players would’ve been available. The ivory tower folks at BC sure don’t give a flying fish about Jim Christian or his team.

Answer to the ACC basketball blind résumé trivia question: 1960