Because it’s mid-December, the ACC (and college basketball as a whole) are fairly light on games and particularly light on heavyweight competitions. That doesn’t mean there can’t be some surprises, though, and surprises are exactly what we got this week as four ACC teams lost on Saturday to shake up the power rankings a little. Here is where we stand going into the week before Christmas:
1. #6 Miami (9-0)
The Canes just keep winning, though their latest didn’t come easy, as they had to hold off George Washington in the second half before winning 59-50. Being one of just four undefeated teams in the country is not nothing, though. Bruce Brown is back from injury sooner than expected, so hopefully for Miami, he can knock off some rust in time for ACC play. He’ll have the opportunity to do so at Hawaii this week.
2. #5 North Carolina (10-1)
With an impressive road win against a then-AP Top 20 Tennessee team, the Heels have moved into the top 5 of the AP poll and seemingly moved past their bad loss to Michigan State earlier in the season. The Heels’ myriad weapons and offensive stylistic options are making them an opponent nobody wants to face. This week, Wofford comes to town, then the Heels will take on Ohio State in the CBS Sports Classic in New Orleans.
3. #24 Florida State (9-1)
The Seminoles have had a turbulent couple of weeks. After the high point of beating then-#5 Florida (now relegated to the “receiving votes” section), Florida State fell to Oklahoma State (also in the “receiving votes” section) in the Orange Bowl Classic. Leonard Hamilton’s squad still looks dangerous, make no mistake, but after Oklahoma State turned them over 22 times, teams might have been given a clue as to how to best play them.
4. #4 Duke (11-1, 0-1 ACC)
After an idle week, Duke’s most recent result is still a loss to Boston College. No movement here. Duke will play Evansville, then take another 10-day break before resuming ACC play against Florida State, at which point any excuse about tiredness should be out the window.
5. #13 Virginia (9-1)
On Saturday, Virginia dispatched Davidson 80-60 in an unprecedented offensive explosion from a team that, previously this season, won a game 49-37. It was the kind of game that Virginia needed to start to be taken seriously, but personally, I want to see it against a better team than 4-4 Davidson. This won’t be the week for that, though, as the Cavs will play against Savannah State and Hampton before taking a break prior to ACC play.
6. Virginia Tech (9-2)
After a series of wins against teams who could charitably be called “not very good,” the Hokies arguably showed more in a close loss to Kentucky than they had in any of those seven wins. Kentucky has its own problems this year, but they are a talented squad, and Virginia Tech has shown with this game that they can hang with good teams. They’ll take on Presbyterian this week.
7. Notre Dame (8-3)
It’s tempting to put the Fighting Irish even lower than this, but I can’t ding them too harshly for losing to their in-state rivals Indiana at the tail end of an almost two-week road trip. Notre Dame’s coach and players are too good for their current slump to last much longer. They will have the opportunity to build some confidence before ACC play begins with games against Dartmouth and Southeastern Louisiana.
8. Syracuse (9-1)
Needing overtime to beat Georgetown isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement, but coming back from a 13-point deficit shows some grit for a team that’s put together a decent non-conference run. They have definitely played some cupcakes, but they look in pretty good shape to surprise some teams in January. They’ll strengthen their non-conference resume a little bit first, with games against Buffalo and St. Bonaventure.
9. Clemson (9-1)
The ACC continued to beat up on Florida last week, as Clemson followed up Florida State’s victory over the Gators with one of their own, beating Florida 71-69. Clemson hasn’t been an offensive powerhouse, but they have won 5 straight games and look like they’ll be a tough out for anybody. Next up for the Tigers: in-state rival and 2017 Final Four participant South Carolina.
10. Louisville (9-2)
The Cardinals are starting to get their feet under them, taking care of business against Bryant and Memphis and appearing to find some rhythm after the chaos that was the beginning of their season. They have two more games against Albany and Grand Canyon before they take on Kentucky.
11. Boston College (9-3, 1-0)
The ACC’s current first-place team handled another Blue Devils squad last week, handily beating the Central Connecticut State Blue Devils behind Ky Bowman. The second-year player is putting together a really impressive season. The Eagles will play Richmond before re-opening conference play against Virginia.
12. North Carolina State (8-3)
Way to go, Wes. The Wolfpack fell to Wes Miller’s UNC-Greensboro team, resulting in this absolute gem of a celebration video:
The Pack will try and finish their non-conference season on a higher note with games against Robert Morris and Jacksonville before facing Clemson on the 30th of December.
13. Wake Forest (6-4)
After an idle week, this is going to be Danny Manning’s chance to really prove his stuff. Will the Demon Deacons come out against Coastal Carolina well-rested or rusty? Wake Forest looked like they were regrouping from a disastrous start before this hiatus; it’s now time to see whether they can maintain it.
14. Pittsburgh (6-5)
A win against McNeese State does not move the needle for this team, which has done nothing to show it won’t get washed come ACC play. A game against Kenpom #351 Delaware State is unlikely to change this perception, though their other opponent, Towson, isn’t an awful team.
15. Georgia Tech (5-5)
The Yellow Jackets, led by reigning ACC Coach of the Year Josh Pastner, lost a close game to the Wofford Terriers before snapping a 3-game losing streak against Florida A&M. Josh Okogie, despite having finished his suspension, is recovering from complications from recovering from a dislocated finger, which explains part of the Yellow Jackets’ struggle. Right now, Georgia Tech is firmly at the bottom of the conference.