ACC Basketball Power Rankings: Duke, Miami and everyone else...
Does anyone want to seize control of the ACC? Just when we thought Leonard Hamilton and Florida State were getting ready for one of their annual late January and February rolls, the Seminoles dropped 2 games in a row last week.
Duke bounced back with 2 wins but wasn’t impressive in either.
Wake Forest isn’t ready for prime time, or certainly didn’t appear to be when they were pummeled by a mediocre Syracuse in the Carrier Dome.
Perhaps we should just get back to praising Miami, which at 8-2 in the league, has lost only to archrival Florida State in ACC play this season. But does Jim Larrañaga’s team really want that smoke? Being first in these power rankings hasn’t exactly been a blessing.
What is clear as we enter February? In the ACC, there’s Duke, there’s Miami, and then there’s everyone else.
Last week’s list is here, though given the shakeup at the top, I’m not sure how useful it is.
Here’s a fresh batch of Saturday Road ACC power rankings.
15. NC State (10-12, 3-8)
The Wolfpack can score, or at least Dereon Seabron and Terquavion Smith can. But the longer they play without Manny Bates, the worse they get defensively and Kevin Keatts just doesn’t have any answers in the frontcourt. The latest example? UNC’s Armando Bacot (18 points, 13 rebounds, 6 blocks) manhandling the Wolfpack this weekend. NC State lost by 20, despite Smith’s 34-point effort.
14. Georgia Tech (9-11, 2-7)
The Yellow Jackets stunned Florida State, which sat at No. 2 in these power rankings last week. It was a rare moment in the sun for a season that’s gone all wrong from the start for Josh Pastner’s team. The biggest reason? Woeful offense. The Yellow Jackets rank 218th in KenPom Adjusted Offensive Efficiency. Hard to win when you can’t make baskets.
13. Pittsburgh (8-13, 3-7)
Just when you think Jeff Capel III’s team is going to turn the corner, they go and lay an egg on the road at Boston College. Pitt is another team that simply can’t score: they rank 252nd in KenPom Offensive Efficiency and haven’t scored 70 points in a game since a 3-point loss at Louisville on January 5.
12. Clemson (11-9, 3-6)
The Tigers were off this week after pushing Duke to the limit at Cameron Indoor last weekend. That was another reminder of what Brad Brownell’s team can be when they play 40 consistent minutes. That just doesn’t happen often enough.
11. Virginia Tech (11-10, 3-7)
The most disappointing team in the Power 6 this season had an interesting week. They were toppled at the buzzer by Miami at home, and the high degree of difficulty of the game-winner only added insult to injury.
CHARLIE MOORE AT THE BUZZER FOR THE WIN 😤🙌 @CanesHoops pic.twitter.com/EsfEOkyENA
— ACC Network (@accnetwork) January 27, 2022
The good news? The Hokies got spectacular guard play to win at Florida State, where the Seminoles have been nearly invincible for the past 5 years. Virginia Tech now hits a very soft portion of its schedule, with 2 games against Pitt, a date with Georgia Tech and a home game against Syracuse up next. Can they build off the FSU win and slowly creep back into the bubble conversation? We’ll see.
10. Boston College (9-12, 4-7)
A split week for Earl Grant’s team, which beat Pitt but fell at Virginia over the weekend. Grant is squeezing everything he can out of this group, and metrics back that up – the Golden Eagles lead the ACC in performances over average efficiency expectation, according to Haslam Metrics. This team won’t play in the postseason, but the program is on the rise.
9. Syracuse (10-11, 4-6)
Syracuse picked up a needed and nice win over Wake Forest last week, dominating from tip to finish to beat the Demon Deacons by 22. At the center of everything? Buddy Buckets of course, who dropped 30 points, collected 5 rebounds and had 7 assists with Giannis in attendance. Not a bad day at the office.
8. Louisville (11-11, 5-7)
Since we last checked in on the Cardinals, Chris Mack was fired and Louisville lost 2 more games, stretching their losing streak to 4. It doesn’t get any easier this week, as the Cardinals visit Syracuse and Notre Dame. At this point, Louisville fans just want this miserable season to end and the coaching search to truly begin.
7. Virginia (13-9, 7-5)
The Cavaliers are the most predictable team in the ACC. Last week, which featured a loss at Notre Dame and a home win over Boston College, was the 4th consecutive week where Virginia split 2 games. That’s basically the “Bleh” profile of a team headed for the NIT.
6. Florida State (13-7, 6-4)
Saturday Road wondered if it could trust Florida State’s resurgent offense and this week, it found out the hard way it couldn’t. The Seminoles committed 17 turnovers at Georgia Tech in a shocking defeat to start the week, but that wasn’t even the key number. The key? Caleb Mills, who had led FSU’s offensive renaissance, went 2-for-7 from the field and scored only 5 points. The Seminoles simply can’t win – even against bad teams – when Mills doesn’t produce.
This Hunter Catoor kid for Virginia Tech is going OFF right now.
He has 9 threes.
He’s now 9-for-11, 27 points. pic.twitter.com/z3nHTQC65G
— Vic Lombardi (@VicLombardi) January 29, 2022
FSU then ran into a buzzsaw at home against Virginia Tech, which shot 62% from the field and 50% from deep, mostly due to a heater from guard Hunter Cattoor.
A week with 2 bad losses puts the Seminoles back on the wrong side of the bubble, with games at Clemson and Wake Forest up this week.
5. Wake Forest (17-5, 7-4)
The Demon Deacons were blown out by Syracuse, giving up 30 points to Buddy Boeheim, in their lone outing last week. It’s only a Quadrant 2 loss, and the Demon Deacons don’t have a single bad defeat on their resume. The problem is that outside of their big win over UNC, they don’t have any quality wins, either. Steve Forbes’ team is still one of the feel-good stories of this basketball season, but to play in the NCAA Tournament, they desperately need a signature win. They’ll get another chance this weekend in Tallahassee.
4. North Carolina (16-6, 8-3)
The Tar Heels went 3-0 last week, taking care of business against 3 bottom of the league programs.
Armando Bacot dominated in an OT win over Louisville 😈 @iget_buckets35 pic.twitter.com/Wc1PDxiOGB
— B/R Hoops (@brhoops) February 2, 2022
It was a showcase week for Armando Bacot, who had 18 points and 13 rebounds in the win over NC State and dominated Louisville with 19 points and 22 rebounds as well.
The problem, like Wake Forest, is that the Tar Heels lack quality wins. The only 2 Quadrant 1 or 2 wins on the resume are wins at Virginia and over Furman. That likely won’t be good enough come Selection Sunday. Can they add a signature win? They’ll get a shot Saturday at home against Duke.
3. Notre Dame (14-7, 7-3)
A 14-point first half – yes, 14 points – did the Fighting Irish in against Duke Monday night, but Notre Dame is still likely on the right side of the bubble, thanks to a resume with quality wins. Plus, as long as Blake Wesley, who in a world without Paolo Banchero would be ACC Freshman of the Year, is producing to the tune of 15 ppg, this is a balanced offense that will grind out the wins they need to play in the Big Dance.
2. Miami (16-5, 8-2)
It’s tempting, since the Hurricanes won at Cameron Indoor, to rank Miami No. 1. But Duke has Paolo Banchero (more below) and Miami doesn’t.
Still, Jim Larrañaga’s team has only lost to FSU in league play, and their guard play is among the best in the nation. Miami ranks an ACC best 19th in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency, and their ability to score will likely get them into the NCAA Tournament.
Still, a win at Wake Forest on February 12, which is the last Quadrant 1 game on Miami’s schedule, would help immensely.
1. Duke (18-3, 8-2)
Paolo Banchero is putting up historically good numbers.
Paolo Banchero’s all-around game is so balanced. His numbers:
17.8 points / game
8.3 rebounds / game
2.6 assists / game
50% FG pct
75% FT pct
He’s the only ACC player in the last 20 years to average those levels.
— Evan Miyakawa (@EvanMiya) February 1, 2022
As Mike Brey said after Banchero carved up Notre Dame with 21 points and 9 rebounds: “How could there be a draft pick ahead of him?”
Yes, Duke lost to Miami and FSU. But there’s a reason the Blue Devils remain the ACC’s only ranked team. They have the best wins, including victories over Gonzaga and Kentucky, as well as last week’s Quadrant 1 win over Notre Dame.
That’s enough to hold the top spot this week.