The period after finals has a few high-profile games, and last Saturday was certainly a huge day for college basketball. But really, we’re all just waiting for conference play, right? With not much time left, here’s how things stand in the ACC:
all times Eastern
1. #1 Duke Blue Devils (11-1)
I can’t snark this week, a win over Texas Tech is actually good, particularly a come-from-behind one. That experience will make Duke more dangerous, but they still haven’t faced a truly hostile environment. How long until Zion Williamson starts getting the Trae Young backlash?
The Blue Devils are off until conference play.
2. #4 Virginia Cavaliers (11-0)
So last week, my colleague Matt predicted Virginia’s last non-conference game against a Power 5 opponent (South Carolina) would “probably end with like a 60-46 Cavaliers’ win.” It was actually 69-52, as Virginia continues to score at an unprecedented rate for them. They’ve gone over 70 points in 7 out of their 11 games! Doing this at literally the slowest tempo in the country shows some serious offensive chops.
The Cavaliers will host Marshall at 1:00 PM on New Years’ Eve Monday.
3. #10 Virginia Tech Hokies (10-1)
Matt thought last week that Virginia Tech might get into the AP Top 10 by January 14. Turns out they didn’t need to wait nearly that long, due to some... movement (grumble) from ahead of them. They’re playing good basketball, though, make no mistake about it. To be fair, a win over N.C. A&T doesn’t give us much to go on.
VT will host Maryland-Eastern Shore at 7:00 PM on Friday.
4. #9 Florida State Seminoles (11-1)
A busy week left FSU pretty much unfazed, as they handled a middling North Florida squad and an okay Saint Louis team. They’re facing decent competition heading into an ACC opener against Virginia.
Florida State will host Winthrop at 2:00 PM on Tuesday.
5. #14 North Carolina Tar Heels (8-3)
A disappointing loss against Kentucky makes this feel like deja vu after the losses a couple of weeks ago to Texas and Michigan, but UNC has still played an extraordinarily hard schedule and has been dominant in every win this season except for the season opener. There are clearly kinks with this team, but don’t make the mistake of thinking they’re bad after a couple of duds. Some consistent greatness in high-profile games would be nice, but that’s what ACC play is for.
UNC will host Davidson on Saturday at noon.
6. #20 N.C. State Wolfpack (9-1)
Well, some of those strength of schedule complaints should be put to rest after the Wolfpack beat a ranked Auburn squad last week (their SOS still hasn’t moved from 350th in the nation). They’re looking pretty good for a top-6 spot in the ACC and maybe higher.
N.C. State will host Loyola (Maryland) on Friday at 7:00 PM.
7. Clemson Tigers (9-3)
Hey look, another ACC team that beat South Carolina! No matter what else happens, Clemson can definitely hang its hat on beating Carolina at Carolina this season, amirite? (No, I’m not.)
Clemson will host Lipscomb at 3:00 PM on Sunday.
8. Louisville Cardinals (9-3)
It looked for a second like Louisville might be primed to take the bad loss they’ve avoided so far this year when they were down at halftime against Robert Morris. A 20-2 run later and it was all forgotten, and Louisville is looking very competent, albeit not spectacular, going into January. This next game could change that in a big way if it turns out well.
Louisville will host their rivals, #16 Kentucky, on Saturday at 2:00 PM.
9. Boston College Eagles (9-2)
The Eagles only scraped past DePaul, which is why they find themselves in the back half of this particular 9-win conglomerate. But that’s not that bad, because DePaul isn’t that bad. And it was yet another game in which Ky Bowman wasn’t the first- or second-leading scorer, which is still shocking to me. Some offensive diversity makes this a spooky team, but their efficiency on both ends still has a ways to go to be truly considered with the middle class of the ACC.
Boston College will host Hartford on Monday at 1:00 PM.
10. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (9-3)
Two games after losing senior Rex Pflueger, Notre Dame put in their best offensive performance of the season against Jacksonville. They’re starting to get some offensive momentum, but chemistry issues persist on the defensive end. Mike Brey still has a tall task ahead of him if he wants this team to mirror most of his previous ones in this conference.
The Fighting Irish will host Coppin State on Saturday at noon.
11. Syracuse Orange (8-4)
With a chance to prove they were, as the kids say, for real for real, Syracuse was absolutely blitzed by Buffalo. They came back with a vengeance against Arkansas State, but I’m going to need more than that to put them back in the top 8, where we had them last week.
Syracuse will host St. Bonaventure on Saturday at 2:00 PM.
12. Pittsburgh Panthers (9-3)
Pittsburgh’s strength of schedule is almost as bad as N.C. State’s, but they have lost their only game against a ranked opponent, though that was on the road and just by a point. They certainly seem to be trending up, though it’d be hard not to after what Kevin Stallings did to that program.
The Panthers will host Colgate on Saturday at 4:00 PM.
13. Miami Hurricanes (7-4)
Ken Pomeroy, I love you, but please fix a system that still says this Miami team is top-50 in the country. They beat 261st-ranked Houston Baptist by single digits, so it’s not even like all their wins have been won in convincing fashion. At least they’re on a winning streak now.
Miami hosts Campbell on Saturday at 4:00 PM.
14. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (6-4)
Did anybody expect anything other than a 19-point loss when this team traveled to #3 Tennessee? Didn’t think so.
Wake Forest will host Gardner-Webb on Saturday at 2:00 PM.
15. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (6-5)
Rivalry losses sting (no pun intended), particularly when your rival isn’t any good, either. Beating Arkansas was good and could have gotten them out of the ACC basement, but taking a pummeling against Georgia at home drops them back into last here.
Georgia Tech will host Kennesaw State on Friday at 4:00 PM.