Feast Week has come and gone as various teams around the league traveled across the country to various Thanksgiving Tournaments. To many, last week is the real start of the college basketball season as teams have rounded into form, play other contenders, and college football is coming to an end right as the page turns to December.
This week sees the annual ACC-Big 10 challenge, with Virginia Tech getting to sit on the sidelines, and then the action continues this weekend with another round of conference games. Get used to these games in December, since the 20-game ACC schedule is a reality and there’s a decent chance the conference won’t open with a slate like it did last year.
So, let’s see where things stand as we go into this really important week:
1) #1 Louisville Cardinals 7-0 (1-0)
The redbirds opted to play a game in Nashville last week instead of going to a full tournament, and they had a relatively easy win over Western Kentucky. The action ramps up for them as they have the top matchup of the whole Challenge, facing #4 Michigan tomorrow night. Then they’ll play Pitt in ACC action this weekend, so if they are still undefeated the top spot will be well-earned.
2) #5 Virginia Cavaliers 7-0 (1-0)
The Cavaliers followed up their Hall of Fame Tipoff win with a thunderous 46-26 win over Maine in Charlottesville. Yes, we’re still talking basketball. Yes, the basketball opponent scored less than Virginia’s football opponent last week. So far, only Vermont has been able to get out of the 40’s against the Cavs, which has to make you excited for the game in Purdue tomorrow. Their opponent for Sunday? We’ll get to that.
3) #7 North Carolina Tar Heels 6-1 (1-0)
The loss against Michigan looks better considering both how the Tar Heels were able to come back in that game, and then Michigan went on beat Gonzaga to climb to number four in the rankings. The Tar Heels recovered to play their best half of the season against Oregon and held on to win, and that recovery was huge as Carolina is staring at the double-whammy of Ohio State tomorrow and the Cavaliers on Sunday. With Carolina’s offensive woes, it sure looks like a rock fight is in store on Sunday.
4) #17 Florida State Seminoles 6-1 (0-1)
The early season loss to Pitt appears behind Leonard Hamilton’s team, who’s a fun follow on Twitter by the way. The Seminoles won the Emerald Coast Classic, knocking off both Tennessee and Purdue. In a season that appears to be very top heavy and muddled everywhere else, look out for this Florida State team. They’ll be facing Indiana tonight and then hosting Clemson this weekend.
5) Notre Dame Fighting Irish 6-1 (0-1)
A ho-hum win against Fairliegh Dickenson for the Irish, but their schedule ramps up as they face off against a strong Maryland squad tomorrow night in College Park. They then work to get back to .500 in the conference by hosting BC in South Bend.
6) Pittsburgh Panthers 6-2 (1-0)
The Fighting Jeff Capels may be able to stay out of the basement this year. Their win against FSU was followed up with a couple of head scratching losses, sure, but then they went down to Fort Myers this weekend and won the Fort Myers Tip Off by beating both Kansas State and Northwestern. The Panthers likely draw the easiest Big Ten draw in Rutgers, and then the rubber meets the road with a game in Louisville against the top-ranked Cardinals on Friday.
7) Virginia Tech Hokies 6-2 (1-0)
They get major points for beating Michigan State and continuing their surprising season under new head coach Mike Young. Unfortunately, the squandered a good chunk of that surprise by losing their next game to Dayton and then lost to BYU to leave Maui with a bit of a thud. They get to adjust back to East Coast time this week before hosting a reeling Duke team on Friday.
8) Wake Forest Demon Deacons 5-3 (0-1)
For all the jokes made at the expense of Danny Manning, the Demon Deacs had a great trip out to Anaheim at the Wooden Legacy. They took care of both Charleston and Long Beach State and gave Arizona a tough game. They’ll fly cross country to meet Penn State tomorrow, and then finally get home to host NC State on Saturday.
9) NC State Wolfpack 5-2 (0-1)
Only one game for the Wolfpack this week, a loss, but it was a tight contest against Memphis in Brooklyn. They host Wisconsin tomorrow night and then will try to get back to .500 in the ACC with a trip to Winston-Salem.
10) Clemson Tigers 5-3 (0-1)
The Tigers had a rough week, losing to Colorado out in Vegas and then giving the ACC their first loss in the ACC-Big 10 Challenge with a thumping in Minnesota. They continue to travel, but at least get to catch their breath since their game against FSU isn’t until Sunday.
11) Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 3-2 (1-0)
The Yellow Jackets have had a light schedule so far, staying quiet until Sunday with their razor-thin win over Bethune-Cookman. Without any postseason trips on the radar for Georgia Tech, they’ll continue to look to play spoiler, first against Nebraska tomorrow night and then against Syracuse on Saturday.
12) Miami Hurricanes 5-3 (0-1)
The Hurricanes didn’t play any games in the past week until going to Illinois last night, and they were able to hold on for a win after squandering about all of a 25+ point lead. They get to take the weekend off from ACC play to revel in the victory, and their schedule is light on challenges for the next couple of weeks. so we’ll see if this win gives them some momentum.
13) Syracuse Orange 4-3 (0-1)
This is a case where the record for the Orange looks worse than they probably are, with a narrow loss to Virginia and then a rough weekend in New York in the NIT (no, not that one). They have a chance to rebound by hosting Iowa in the Dome and then heading down to Atlanta this weekend.
14) Boston College Eagles 4-4 (1-0)
When you’ve lost three in a row, your last loss was Richmond, and you also have a loss to Belmont on your resume, you’re stuck here even with an ACC win. The Eagles are going to try and right the ship by hosting a struggling Northwestern team and then heading up to South Bend this weekend.
15) #10 Duke 7-1 (0-0)
Is this an overreaction? Absolutely, but who else on this list has a home loss to Stephen F. Austin on their resume? If these rankings are a reaction of week to week, who had a worse week than the team that had the number one ranking and has an argument for the greatest upset in college basketball history? It’s not just that they lost their non-conference home winning streak that they had worked so hard to protect in recent years, it’s that they lost it this way:
They’ll be back near the top, but for this week, this is where they belong.