We are now in January which means conference play is finally in full swing. The Tar Heels have fallen off more than most expected coming into the season but still technically have a chance to compete for an ACC title if they can right the ship. For now, though, they are in the middle of the pack. Here are the week 9 ACC power rankings.
1. #2 Duke Blue Devils 12-1 (2-0)
The Blue Devils have looked impressive outside of that loss to Stephen F. Austin. They handled Boston College yesterday to move to 2-0 in conference play. With wins over Kansas and Michigan State on their resume and given that Louisville just lost to Kentucky, Duke takes the top spot in this week’s power rankings.
2. #7 Louisville Cardinals 11-2 (2-0)
Lamarr Kimble mustered a game-tying layup late in the game against Kentucky but the Cards ultimately ran out of gas in overtime. Still, Louisville showed some toughness going on the road against a solid Wildcats team. They’ve got another big one coming up against Florida State on Saturday.
3. #18 Florida State Seminoles 12-2 (2-1)
The Seminoles are currently on a five-game winning streak that includes victories over Clemson and Georgia Tech. They could very well be in contention for the ACC title in what appears to be a down year for the conference. A road win over Louisville would offer some validation towards that notion.
4. #19 Virginia Cavaliers 10-2 (2-0)
This Virginia team is seemingly as slow-paced and stingy on defense as they’ve always been but they don’t have as many efficient scorers. Their two losses (Purdue, South Carolina) have not been pretty but they’ll have a chance to move to 3-0 in conference play on Saturday against Virginia Tech.
5. Virginia Tech Hokies 10-3 (1-1)
The Hokies’ season has been one of streaks. After starting the year 6-0 and knocking off then-#3 Michigan State, they lost three straight. They now find themselves on a four-game winning streak heading into an important matchup with Virginia.
6. Pittsburgh Panthers 10-3 (1-1)
Pitt took care of business its past three games, all against mid-major foes, but they must now prepare for the ACC schedule to get fully underway. Jeff Capel won three conference games last season (three more than the season prior to that) but the Panthers appear to be in good shape to improve upon that record.
7. NC State Wolfpack 10-3 (1-1)
The Wolfpack hung with a couple of very solid teams in Memphis and Auburn but weren’t able to close out either game. With an otherwise soft schedule, they are still searching for a marquee win. The next few weeks should tell us a little more about this team.
8. North Carolina Tar Heels 8-5 (1-1)
Carolina has picked up some much-needed wins the past couple of games against UCLA and Yale. However, the injury bug just won’t seem to go away as Andrew Platek was sidelined against Yale and Anthony Harris suffered an apparent knee injury. The Tar Heels have a manageable stretch coming up with three consecutive home games against Georgia Tech, Pitt, and Clemson.
9. Notre Dame Fighting Irish 9-4 (0-2)
I don’t believe Notre Dame’s current 0-2 standing in the ACC is indicative of how things will ultimately shake out. They haven’t been as consistent as many were expecting coming into the season but they have an opportunity to get some major victories with two road games coming up and a tilt with a top ten Louisville team.
10. Syracuse Orange 8-5 (1-1)
For the most part, Syracuse has won the games they were expected to win and lost the ones they were expected to lose. However, if they want a chance at making the tournament, they’ll have to start winning some of those tougher games. Their matchup with Notre Dame on Saturday will be important for both teams.
11. Boston College Eagles 8-6 (2-1)
Despite some very ugly losses, the Eagles still find themselves at 8-6 with an above-.500 record in conference play. They’ll try to pull off a major upset when Virginia heads to Chestnut Hill next Tuesday.
12. Miami Hurricanes 9-3 (1-1)
Though Miami only has three losses, those three came by a combined 58 points. The rest of their schedule has been pretty easy thus far but an upcoming tilt with Duke will be a good litmus test for the Hurricanes.
13. Clemson Tigers 6-7 (0-3)
The Tigers have now lost six out of their last seven after last night’s defeat to Miami. In the conference standings, they have sole possession of last place as the only team with three ACC losses. They’ll look to flip the script on Saturday versus NC State.
14. Wake Forest Demon Deacons 7-5 (0-2)
Wake Forest managed to end a three-game losing streak with an impressive win over a top 25 Xavier team. They’ll look to continue that momentum into the heart of conference play as they get set to travel to Pittsburgh on Saturday.
15. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 6-7 (1-2)
Georgia Tech and Clemson are the only teams in the ACC with more than six losses at this point in the season. Though they do have a road win over NC State, the Yellow Jackets also suffered double-digit losses to the likes of Ball State and Houston. They’ll try to take advantage of an injury-riddled Tar Heel roster on Saturday.