ACC basketball power rankings: Week 14
Rivalry Week saw Duke win Round 1 of the post-Mike Krzyzewski Era in the best rivalry in the sport in a game that, of course, commanded the national spotlight and a prime-time audience despite both teams entering unranked.
It was a massive step forward for Duke, thanks to unlikely hero Dereck Lively II.
The flip side?
Does North Carolina have time to fix what ails it before it is too late? Brett Friedlander explored that issue beautifully on Sunday at Saturday Road.
Virginia Tech also did what it does and won at home, upending Virginia to hand the Hoos their 1st loss in a month. If the Hokies can figure out how to win a road game or 2, the NCAA Tournament is still in reach.
Finally, is the magic running out for Clemson? The Tigers lost twice last week, leaving Pittsburgh — yes Pitt — just a half-game out at the top of the ACC standings. The stretch run is going to be wild in this season of parity.
Last week’s ACC Power Rankings are here and each team’s ranking last week is included below this week’s ranking.
Here’s a fresh batch, with more movement than we’ve seen in a long time:
15. Georgia Tech (8-15, 1-12 ACC)
Last week (LW): 14
The Yellow Jackets hit the bottom of the power rankings for the 1st time after a 10-point loss to season-long cellar dweller Louisville. Georgia Tech has lost 9 games in a row and dropped out of the top 200 in the KenPom rankings for the 1st time in the Josh Pastner Era. As a Georgia fan might say … Woof.
14. Louisville (3-20, 1-11)
The Cardinals won a game. Let’s just marinate on that for a moment. The hero? Jae’lyn Withers, who scored 19 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to help Louisville win its 1st ACC game of the season. Joy has been handed out in teaspoons at the KFC Yum! Center this season, so let’s enjoy some Withers highlights instead of focusing on Louisville’s heartbreaking loss to Florida State over the weekend.
Big time double-double from Jae’Lyn Withers!
He scored a season-high 19 points and grabbed 13 rebounds!@LouisvilleMBB | @jaelynwithers pic.twitter.com/Ug2xyvBGF0
— ACC Digital Network (@theACCDN) February 2, 2023
Now comes the big test: Can the Cardinals win 1 more game and avoid tying the NCAA record (set by Oregon State last season) for Power 6 futility with just 3 wins on the season?
13. Notre Dame (10-13, 2-10)
A midweek bye did not help Mike Brey’s team, as the Fighting Irish were blasted by Wake Forest in South Bend over the weekend. A trip to dreadful Georgia Tech this week will give the Fighting Irish their best shot at an ACC road win this season. Lose, and a drop in these rankings is possible. Hard to believe it has gotten this bad for a team that returned 3 starters and 4 key contributors from a Round of 32 group last March.
12. Florida State (8-16, 6-7)
The Seminoles have 6 league wins, but they aren’t playing like a team that will get many more. FSU was pounded by NC State midweek and then needed to hang on for dear life to avoid a shocking defeat at Louisville over the weekend. If you want a bright spot, freshman Cam Corhen, a top 100 recruit out of Texas, has played great of late, scoring 16 points per game with 5.5 rebounds and a steal in FSU’s 2 games last week. All the injuries and the chance to see another great recruiting class get better by staying together and playing together may keep Leonard Hamilton around 1 or 2 more years in Tallahassee.
11. Boston College (11-13, 5-8)
The Eagles ripped off a huge victory for Earl Grant last Tuesday when they downed No. 20 and ACC leader Clemson at the Conte Forum. The Tigers never led after the 4-minute mark in the 1st half as the Eagles limited Clemson to just 30.8% shooting from the field. Makai Ashton-Langford led the Eagles with 15 points, but 4 Boston College starters were in double figures and Prince Aligbe’s 10 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals and a block were instrumental in the win. A weekend loss to Syracuse soured the impact of the Clemson win, but Boston College is slowly making strides under Coach Grant.
10. Syracuse (14-10, 7-6)
Another team that stays put is the Orange, who fell in a nip-and-tuck game at the JMA Wireless (it’s the Carrier Dome, OK?!) to No. 6 Virginia last Monday but rallied to defeat Boston College in Chestnut Hill over the weekend. Syracuse meets every possible NIT eye test. They do not have any great wins but are competitive in the games they lose to NCAA Tournament-caliber teams, and they aren’t particularly great on offense or defense but they are by no means bad at either. Jim Boeheim stated the obvious over the weekend when he said retirement would be “his choice.” For the good of the program, let’s hope he makes the right 1 and steps aside.
9. Wake Forest (15-9, 7-6)
The Demon Deacons did snap a 4-game skid over the weekend by hammering Notre Dame in South Bend. That’s the good news. The bad news is that Wake Forest has slipped to the wrong side of the bubble thanks to the 4-game stretch that saw Steve Forbes’ team lose a number of big-time résumé opportunities.
Tyree Appleby on a personal 8-0 run 😤 @WakeMBB
📺: @espn pic.twitter.com/gsA6sry9n3
— ACC Network (@accnetwork) February 1, 2023
Tyree Appleby’s strong season continues — the Florida transfer is averaging 18 points and 6 assists per game, and he was nearly great enough to lift the Demon Deacons past Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Tuesday night last week, scoring 27 points and adding 4 assists in a brutal 2-point defeat. Wake passes the NCAA eye test, but the NET ranking of 69, thanks to a 4-8 record in Quad 1 and 2 games, isn’t enough right now.
8. Virginia Tech (14-9, 4-8)
Saturday Road wants to believe. Truly, we do. That’s why we have a team that sits 12th in the ACC standings ranked 8th in our power rankings. If the Hokies could just win a road game, they’d be even higher. The weekend win over Virginia was impressive by any measure. All 5 Hokies starters scored in double figures, and Justyn Mutts was spectacular with 17 points, 8 assists and 4 rebounds in the victory. Mutts has 6 or more assists in 6 of the past 7 games, and Virginia Tech has won 3 of its past 4 (though all the wins are at home).
Two must-win games are up this week, with Boston College and Notre Dame precisely the types of teams the Hokies cannot afford to lose to if they want to be on the right side of the bubble come Selection Sunday.
7. North Carolina (15-8, 7-5)
A 2-loss week for the Tar Heels, just when it looked like they were getting their act together. Do you panic about a road loss at Cameron Indoor in a rivalry game? No. But you do worry when you are held to under a point-per-possession at home against Pitt. That’s deeply troubling. Pete Nance, the Northwestern transfer who was supposed to replace Brady Manek in the Iron Five, had another tough week. He scored just 7.5 points per contest in the 2 losses, shot under 30% (7-24) from the field, had a dire turnover late in a tie game against Duke and managed just 9 rebounds. His minutes were trimmed from 38 to 30 in the Duke game, and it’s time for Hubert Davis to consider jumbling his starting 5 if Nance can’t break out of his season-long funk.
6. NC State (19-5, 9-4)
The Wolfpack won 2 games handily last week, routing struggling Florida State midweek and skating past Georgia Tech on Saturday. DJ Burns saved the Pack from a brutal defeat against the Yellow Jackets, posting another dominant performance with 24 points and 8 rebounds. Burns has been 1 of the most impactful transfer stories this season in the ACC, and he’s been a menace in league play, giving the Pack what they lacked a season ago: balance for the nights when Terquavion Smith can’t get shots to fall. A 3-game road trip, starting Tuesday at Virginia, will likely define this NC State team’s regular season and NCAA Tournament seeding.
5. Clemson (18-6, 10-3)
The Tigers lost 2 games last week, including a tough Quad 3 defeat at Boston College. Brevin Galloway missed the Boston College game after a frightening injury but did return to play against No. 23 Miami over the weekend. Clemson looked better with Galloway on the floor, as you’d expect, but couldn’t chase Miami off the 3-point line in the defeat, allowing the Canes to connect on 9 3-pointers and shoot 38% from deep. Clemson gets a full week to prepare for a bubble-icious game in Chapel Hill next Saturday, but the 1st home loss of the season, which would have been a much-needed résumé boost, really hurts. Still, the Tigers lead the ACC at 10-3 and it is hard to fathom the committee leaving a Power 6 regular-season champion out of the field. Clemson controls its own fate.
4. Duke (17-6, 8-4)
The Blue Devils impressed last week in wins over North Carolina and Wake Forest, but then again, we already know Duke can win at home. When they win road games, we’ll consider a bigger bump. The play of Dereck Lively II is the truly encouraging thing. The 5-star freshman has struggled for much of his 1st (only?) season in Durham, but he was a monster Saturday night in the win over the hated Heels.
Watch this. Bacot didn’t have one field goal when guarded by Dereck Lively. Not one. 0/6 pic.twitter.com/iM2wNVHE3S
— Zion O. (@DukeNBA) February 5, 2023
Lively II finished the game with 14 rebounds and 8 blocks, helping the Blue Devils limit Armando Bacot to just 14 points and keying the Duke defense by consistently altering or blocking the shots of Caleb Love and RJ Davis when they attacked the rim. Lively’s 34 minutes were easily a career high, and if he gets on track Duke becomes a potent problem in March.
3. Virginia (17-4, 9-3)
Virginia falls from the top spot after escaping Syracuse with a win and falling at Virginia Tech. Is the drop harsh? Perhaps. But the Hoos don’t have a win over a ranked team since the Continental Tire Main Event in Las Vegas, and they have lost head-to-head to Pitt and Miami, who are the lone 2 squads ranked above them in these rankings.
2. Pittsburgh (16-7, 9-3)
The Panthers are almost certainly headed to the NCAA Tournament, a remarkable turnaround after last season’s 11-21 fiasco. Jeff Capel’s squad won in Chapel Hill for the 2nd season in a row on Wednesday night, and then he let loose when asked about his assistant and former UNC player Jason Capel in the postgame press conference, admitting it was motivating for the staff and, as a result, his players.
Jeff Capel on Jason Capel, UNC:@PghSportsNow pic.twitter.com/VGX1ZpoBjp
— Mitchell Northam (@primetimeMitch) February 2, 2023
The Panthers were then accused by Jim Boeheim — yes, Jim Boeheim did this with a straight face — of “buying a team” thanks to NIL over the weekend. If they bought a team, here’s the 1 they bought.
Here’s the guys that reportedly was given a bag by Pitt:
Nelly Cummings – Is from Pittsburgh
Blake Hinson – Didn’t play last 2 years
Greg Elliott – Bench player from Marquette who rejoined an assistant
Federiko Federiko – JUCO big who WVU parted ways with
How much this cost? https://t.co/tMaQNzkA4q
— Tristan Freeman (@hoopsnut351) February 5, 2023
That group of misfit toys has been coached up to where they sit just a half-game out of 1st place in the ACC and have as many Quad 1 wins as Virginia and more than Duke and North Carolina combined. Their past 3 wins have all come against NCAA Tournament-caliber competition and the schedule is about to soften, which means the Panthers should be 12-3 in the league when Boeheim brings his team to the Oakland Zoo on Feb. 25. Think that will be fun?
1. Miami (18-5, 9-4)
What a week for the Hurricanes. First, they overcame a late deficit against Virginia Tech to win in Coral Gables. Nijel Pack had 0 points for 33 minutes in that game. He scored 17 in the final 7 to deliver the Canes the victory.
Nijel Pack was UNCONSCIOUS down the stretch for the Canes! 💀@CanesHoops | @NijelPack24 pic.twitter.com/QetknPlRsv
— ACC Men's Basketball (@accmbb) February 1, 2023
That’s the dude NIL brought to Coral Gables, and a big reason that Isaiah Wong has the help he needs for another huge run in March. Miami also grabbed a Quad 1 win over the weekend at Clemson, upending the ACC leaders by 4 points behind another 20 points from Pack. ACC Player of the Week honors should be next for the Kansas State transfer, who helped his team pick up a 5th Quad 1 win on the season. That number leads the ACC, which is a huge reason the Hurricanes now lead the power rankings.