ACC basketball power rankings: A quiet Feast Week for the ACC
Feast Week is the best week of the college basketball season until conference tournament play begins in March, but wall-to-wall college basketball to wash down your turkey and stuffing wasn’t particularly kind to the ACC this season.
The league had teams in nearly every high profile event, from the Maui Invitational to the ESPN Events Invitational. Unfortunately for a league looking to prove it is better than last season’s 5 NCAA Tournament bids, there wasn’t much to write home about. Only Florida State won a Feast Week event (The Sunshine Slam), and the league fizzled in high profile events, with Syracuse finishing 7th at the Maui Invitational, defeating only Chaminade, and North Carolina failing to reach the final and settling for 3rd at the Battle 4 Atlantis.
The league did post a nice win or two, including Florida State’s upset of No. 18 Colorado in the Sunshine Slam Championship game. But mostly, it was a week of missed opportunities, punctuated by Virginia Tech’s blowout loss against mid-major darling Florida Atlantic in the ESPN Events Championship at Disney World.
Another high profile week l0oms with the inaugural ACC-SEC Challenge coming this week. But for now, the ACC power rankings reflect little in the way of better league depth after a disappointing Feast Week.
15. Georgia Tech (2-2)
Last Week (LW): 14
The Yellow Jackets were throttled on the road at Cincinnati in their lone contest during Feast Week.
Damon Stoudamire told Saturday Road at ACC Media Day that his “offense was well ahead of his defense and that would need to be fixed before league play.” Both sides of the ball were woeful against the Bearcats, as the Ramblin’ Wreck shot just 34.7% from the field and turned the ball over 19 times while surrendering 14 triples in a 35-point defeat. Georgia Tech hosts a ranked Miss State team in the ACC-SEC Challenge this week, so things could get worse before they get better.
14. Notre Dame (3-2)
The Fighting Irish, like Georgia Tech, skipped Feast Week but did rout Maryland Eastern Shore in a home tilt midweek. A winnable contest at South Carolina looms in the ACC-SEC Challenge. Who outside of brilliant freshman Markus Burton can offer offense for Notre Dame?
13. Louisville (3-3)
The Cardinals needed overtime to ward off New Mexico State on Sunday. That wasn’t the response Kenny Payne hoped for after 2 tight contests against NCAA Tournament caliber opponents in Texas and Indiana at the Empire Classic. A 1-2 Feast Week isn’t the end of the world, so long as the Cardinals figure out what was working in Gotham and not what nearly failed them against a bad NMSU team at home.
12. Syracuse (4-2)
At least the ‘Cuse routed Chaminade?
That’s the only takeaway from an abysmal showing in Hawaii for the Orange, who were outclassed by Tennessee and Gonzaga in their opening 2 contests in Honolulu. Syracuse is fun — playing fast and improved defensively from a year ago. But the ceiling will be limited immensely if they can’t shoot a bit better, as the Orange are shooting just 26% from beyond the arc through 6 games. Those numbers are even worse when you consider the Orange rank 278th in offensive rebounding percentage — meaning they miss 3s and don’t grab second chances off the bricks.
11. Wake Forest (3-3)
The Demon Deacons can score with anyone, ranking in the top 50 in the country in KenPom offensive efficiency. While Wake’s scoring is a bit top heavy and isolated mostly to 4 players (Gonzaga transfer Hunter Sallis, guards Kevin Miller and Cam Hildreth, and big man Andrew Carr), Steve Forbes and his team run great stuff and score easily. The issues have been on defense, where the Deacs have yet to hold a Power 6 opponent under 77 points. Things won’t get much easier Wednesday when an underrated Florida team visits Winston-Salem.
10. Boston College (4-2)
Earl Grant’s team was the most disappointing ACC team during Feast Week. First, the Eagles were overwhelmed by Colorado State. While it’s no crime to lose to Niko Medved’s modern offense, the follow-up game, a 71-68 defeat to Loyola Chicago where the Eagles squandered 25 points and 9 rebounds from Quentin Post, is the type of soul crushing loss that haunts a bubble team on Selection Sunday. The Eagles aren’t desperate just yet, but a win at Vanderbilt in the ACC-SEC Challenge would sure help matters.
9. NC State (4-1)
The Pack didn’t hurt themselves during Feast Week, but they didn’t help themselves either, which could matter come Selection Sunday. Casey Morsell had 20 per game and Butler transfer Jayden Taylor scored 17.5 points per contest in NC State’s 2 games in Las Vegas, but the Pack struggled to get stops in both games, albeit against Jerry Stackhouse’s wonderful Vanderbilt offense and BYU’s always lethal group of shooters.
— Nike Pro City – DC (@KennerLeague) November 26, 2023
The BYU loss, which featured 28 from Morsell, hurts though, as it provided as good an opportunity at a non-conference, signature résumé win as the Pack will get until a neutral floor tilt with Tennessee next month.
8. Virginia Tech (5-2)
Credit the Hokies for taking advantage of the draw at Disney World and handling their business with wins over Boise State and an Iowa State team that can really get after it defensively. Mike Young’s team runs outstanding stuff, as always, and 4 Hokies scored in double figures in a 71-62 semifinal win over the Cyclones on Friday night, led by 18 from Hunter Cattoor.
Quick film breakdown 🧵 of two Virginia Tech in bounds plays from their win on Friday over Iowa State:
In this first set, VT overloads the strong side with shooter Tyler Nickel ripping around to the corner. This isolates Hunter Cattoor on the weak side with a ton of space…. pic.twitter.com/GOruDhvGx1
— Christian Odjakjian (@OdjHoops) November 26, 2023
The championship game, however, was a fiasco, as the Hokies were simply outclassed by Florida Atlantic, falling by 34 points. The Hokies will be tested at Auburn in the ACC-SEC Challenge, but a huge résumé win, the kind that were lacking the last 2 seasons, also awaits.
7. Florida State (4-1)
The Seminoles scored maybe the ACC”s best win of Feast Week with a thrilling 77-71 overtime win over No. 18 Colorado on Tuesday in Daytona Beach to win the Sunshine Slam. Most impressive for Leonard Hamilton’s crew was the way their length disrupted everything the explosive Buffs want to do offensively, from shooting the triple with Julian Hammond III and KJ Simpson to pounding the rock inside to Eddie Lampkin Jr. and skilled big Tristan di Silva. It was like an FSU of old performance, with ferocious defense and opportunistic buckets in transition the difference. The Seminoles have to figure out who, other than Darin Green Jr. and Jamir Watkins, they can rely on consistently offensively, but to win that game with little from future lottery pick Baba Miller is a sign that this is a vastly improved team from last year’s ACC cellar dweller.
6. Pittsburgh (5-1)
The Panthers were blitzed by Florida in the NIT Season Tip-Off semifinal, but overwhelmed Oregon State in the consolation game behind 19 from Zack Austin and 17 from Blake Hinson. The eye opening- and potentially concerning development- for Pitt in Brooklyn was the play of freshman Carlton Carrington. Spectacular against cupcakes over the season’s first 4 games, he struggled in his first games against Power 6 competition, hitting just 7 of his 20 field goal attempts over 2 games and turning the ball over 3 times in the semifinal loss to the Gators. Pitt has a great frontcourt — how far the guards can take this team remains to be seen.
5. Virginia (5-1)
What to make of the Hoos through the first month?
They clearly have 2 future pros in All-American Reece Beekman and emerging talent Ryan Dunn, who may be taken higher than Beekman in the NBA Draft. That duo accounted for 25 points, 9 rebounds and 6 steals in Virginia’s 55-54 third-place game win over West Virginia in Fort Myers on Wednesday night.
Beyond that? Virginia hasn’t looked very good, save Blake Buchanan balling out against Florida in Charlotte. The Hoos are shooting 35.6% from deep, which is respectable, but just 44.5% overall as they struggle to generate easy looks, even when their defense becomes offense.
Tony Bennett’s teams always improve. This one needs to do that quickly, as league play beckons.
4. North Carolina (5-1)
The Tar Heels squandered a huge opportunity to win the Battle 4 Atlantis when they let Villanova hang around and hang around and ultimately steal the game in overtime in the semifinals on Thanksgiving. Carolina led by as many as 9 in the second frame, but couldn’t get enough stops to put the Wildcats away and advance to the championship, which Villanova won handily over Memphis.
Highlights vs Arkansas
W 87-72 ✅
RJ Davis: 30 pts
Harrison Ingram: 13 pts, 10 reb, 6 ast
Seth Trimble: 12 pts pic.twitter.com/Xbg6tDvFKO
— Tar Heel Tapes (@TarHeelTapes) November 24, 2023
Color us impressed, however, with Harrison Ingram, who stuffed the stat sheet all week and was dominant in Carolina’s blowout of No. 20 Arkansas in the third place contest on Friday. A huge litmus test awaits the Heels when Tennessee visits the Dean Dome this week for the ACC-SEC Challenge.
3. Clemson (5-0)
The computers don’t like Brad Brownell’s team yet — ranking them 45th in KenPom early in the year, largely thanks to sloppy defense and some baked-in metrics from a season ago. I don’t care — the duo of Chase Hunter and PJ Hall pass the eye test every time you watch Clemson play, and a healthy Hall is must-see TV.
PJ Hall went OFF for Clemson last night, the Tigers are on a roll this season:
• 29 points
• 9 rebounds
• 4 assists
• 2 blocks
• 61% FG
They’ll battle for a top 2 spot in the ACC this year🔥 pic.twitter.com/jURGhsXAW2
— ⚡️College Hoops Central⚡️ (@Hoops__Central) November 25, 2023
The Tigers visit Alabama in what promises to be one of the more watched ACC-SEC Challenge games.
2. Duke (5-1)
Saturday Road did not count Duke’s pedestrian 2 wins in the Blue Devil Challenge as a Feast Week championship, but Jon Scheyer’s team did look dominant in both games, winning by a combined 47 points over La Salle and Southern Indiana. Arkansas, which hosts Duke this week, has struggled early this season, but given the way Eric Musselman’s teams always seek to peak in March, a Quad 1 type opportunity waits for the Blue Devils in Fayetteville. Tyrese Proctor (16.5 ppg) was magnificent last week — he’ll take that show on the road against Arkansas’ outstanding guards.
1. Miami (5-0)
Miami sat the week out after winning the Baha Mar Hoops title a week ago. A trip to storied Rupp Arena, where Kentucky’s young but electric backcourt, looms this week. Will Norchad Omier, the best player in the middle for either side, be the difference maker? This is the kind of seed line game the Canes didn’t have a year ago when they rolled into March underseeded. A win wouldn’t just make a statement — it would prevent a lack of respect from the Selection Committee.