ACC Basketball Power Rankings: Week 16
College basketball has hit the home stretch, with the grind of January and early February giving way to the desperate late February sprint to March. It’s no different in the ACC, where a number of teams on the bubble fight for position in the hopes of hearing their names called on Selection Sunday. There’s also the matter of seeding for the ACC Tournament to settle, and you only have to look as far as the last 2 ACC Tournaments, where the likes of Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech secured unlikely automatic berths, to know how wide open that event will be next month in Greensboro.
Last week in the ACC reflected the desperation of late February. Multiple league leaders were upset, including Pitt, who fell at slumping Virginia Tech on Saturday night. Other teams warded off serious “bad loss” scares, including No. 7 Virginia, who clipped Notre Dame by 2 points Saturday when Dane Goodwin’s open 3 at the buzzer clanged long off the back rim at John Paul Jones Arena.
Life on the bubble is brutal. Ask North Carolina, who missed out on two huge résumé building opportunities last week, losing to No. 15 Miami at the Dean E. Smith Center and falling at No. 23 NC State on Sunday afternoon. Wake Forest knows too, as the Demon Deacons have to be wondering what could have been following a 9-point loss to the Hurricanes over the weekend. Don’t even get us started on Clemson, either.
Did the Power Rankings shake up after a frenetic week?
Take a look below to find out. Last week’s rankings are here.
15. Notre Dame (10-17, 2-14)
Last Week (LW): 14
The Fighting Irish drop to the cellar after another two-loss week. Mike Brey’s team was close- losing games against Duke and No. 7 Virginia by a combined 5 points. But it’s a bottom line business and the Fighting Irish lost twice. Mike Brey’s comments that he wasn’t planning to “retire” but instead was “stepping down” at Notre Dame also raised eyebrows, as the veteran coach clearly seems displeased he’s being asked to depart in South Bend.
14. Louisville (4-23, 2-14)
The Cardinals get a bump after their best week of the season, which included not only Saturday’s win over Clemson but a tough 3-point loss to No. 7 Virginia. The win over the Tigers all but sealed Clemson’s NCAA Tournament fate, and Brad Brownell will likely have offseason nightmares about El Ellis. The Cardinals star had 28 points and grabbed 5 rebounds in the Cardinals’ win.
El Ellis doesn’t care about your feelings. And yes, this counted btw. pic.twitter.com/6RD1Zokwyj
— The 363 Project (@the363project) February 19, 2023
Ellis now sits third in the ACC scoring title standings, but he’s first in “rub salt in the wound” final second dunks.
13. Florida State (8-20, 6-11)
The Seminoles late season swoon continues. Florida State lost by 40- yes, 40- at Clemson- the worst loss of the Leonard Hamilton era. They followed that up with a better effort against Boston College, but still fell short. FSU hasn’t won since February 4 and their last home win came on January 7, and unthinkable run of futility for a team that had one of the 5 best home records in college basketball over the past 10 seasons.
12. Georgia Tech (11-16, 3-13)
A two-game win streak and three wins in the last four games may not save Josh Pastner’s job, but at least the Yellow Jackets are beating the league’s other bottom feeders. They also posted their best win of the season last week, defeating Virginia Tech 77-70 at McCarnish Pavilion. Deebo Coleman’s 21 points, a career high, paced the Ramblin’ Wreck, who all but ended Virginia Tech’s at-large hopes in the process.
Deebo Coleman with a career-high 21PTS on an efficient 6-10 shooting. Georgia Tech picks up the ACC victory over Va Tech.
Went 3-4 from 3PT land. 6’6 sophomore. pic.twitter.com/eY4FRFzdir
— GREENLIGHT MEDIA (@atlgreenlight) February 16, 2023
The Yellow Jackets also stifled the Hokies from deep, limiting Virginia Tech’s sharpshooters to just a 26.1% average from beyond the arc.
11. Boston College (13-15, 7-10)
The Eagles have improved in year 2 under Earl Grant. They have collected quality wins, defeating Virginia Tech twice and upending Clemson while the Tigers still held first place in the ACC. The metrics don’t like them much, thanks to one of the Power 6’s worst offenses: the Eagles rank 247th in KenPom Offensive Efficiency and that number is even worse in league play, where it ranks around 300. But there is noticeable improvement and a solid 2023 signing class will help expedite the young head coach’s building process.
10. Virginia Tech (16-11, 6-10)
For the second consecutive year, the Hokies may be the most difficult team to understand in college basketball. This week was a microcosm of that, with a baffling loss at Georgia Tech followed by a massive win over Pitt. The win over the Panthers may be too little, too late, but it did remind those watching that the Hokies were left for dead last season before sprinting through the field at the ACC Tournament in Brooklyn. Winning the ACC Tournament to get a bid for the second consecutive season isn’t the easiest path, but it’s the bed the Hokies have made for themselves. The win over Pitt, which featured 34 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists from Virginia Tech’s frontcourt pairing of Justyn Mutts and Grant Basile, showed the ACC Tournament formula: frontcourt production to buttress the usual Hokies perimeter jump shooting.
9. Syracuse (16-11, 9-7)
The Orange nabbed their first quality win of the season when they beat NC State in the JMA Wireless Dome midweek. Freshman Judah Mintz was magnificent, with 20 points, 9 assists, and 3 rebounds in the victory.
Judah Mintz last night:
🔥 20 PTS
🔥 9 AST
🔥 3 REBpic.twitter.com/w1ZqDwDXLY
— SLAM University (@slam_university) February 15, 2023
Syracuse couldn’t build off the win. They looked listless Saturday night at home against Duke, falling by 22 points and all but ending any at-large conversation they may have reignited with the win over the Wolfpack. Jim Boeheim’s team will have to win the ACC Tournament to play in the Big Dance.
8. North Carolina (16-11, 8-8)
The Tar Heels squandered two tremendous opportunities to secure résumé wins last week, falling to No. 15 Miami and losing at rival No. 23 NC State in Raleigh on Sunday. The Tar Heels found ways to lose both games, continuing a season long theme. Against Miami, the Tar Heels feasted inside, but settled too often for bad jump shots. Carolina shot 5-31 from deep in the 80-72 loss. Had they shot just 25% from beyond the arc, they win. Armando Bacot played his worst game of the year in the loss, scoring just 12 points, grabbing 4 rebounds, and fouling out. Sunday, it was turnovers that did the Tar Heels in, as they coughed up the ball 13 times in the loss, leading to 18 NC State points. North Carolina scored just 2 points off Wolfpack turnovers and lost by 8. The Tar Heels now may need to win out- defeating Virginia and Duke- to feel comfortable about being NCAA Tournament bound before the ACC Tournament.
7. Clemson (19-8, 11-5)
The Tigers pounded Florida State but then fell in mystifying fashion at Louisville on Saturday, all but extinguishing their at-large dreams. PJ Hall had 28 in defeat, but the Tigers can’t win behind Hall alone, and the star big hasn’t gotten enough help in games of late. Clemson’s season now comes down to ACC Tournament seeding, with a top 4 seed still in play, especially if the Tigers can beat Syracuse and NC State this week.
6. Wake Forest (17-10, 9-7)
The Demon Deacons defeat in Coral Gables Saturday put a huge dent in their at-large dreams. Wake Forest is 5-7 in Quad 1 and Quad 2 games, which isn’t poor, but it isn’t enough work to gloss over the 3 Quad 3 losses that plague the résumé. We wrote last week that Wake Forest really needs one more signature win to give the NCAA Selection Committee something to think long and hard about, but after a game at NC State on Wednesday, Tyree Appleby and company will be out of Quad 1 opportunities.
5. Pittsburgh (19-8, 12-4)
A drop for the Panthers after a tough loss at Cassell Coliseum to a desperate Virginia Tech team over the weekend. Blake Hinson struggled mightily in Blacksburg, swallowed up by Justyn Mutts, one of the ACC’s best defenders, who limited the Pitt star to just 4 points. Jeff Capel III’s team can still secure a top 4 seed in the ACC Tournament though, and a league title isn’t out of the question if the Panthers win their final 4 games.
4. NC State (21-7, 11-6)
How do you respond to a disappointing loss to Syracuse? Delivering a crushing blow to your archrival’s dreams does the trick. Kevin Keatts has fought through injuries and injury scares (Terquavion Smith in Chapel Hill, anyone?) to lead this Wolfpack team to 21 wins and the precipice of the NCAA Tournament. Keatts deserves ACC Coach of the Year consideration and his team will have as good a chance as anyone to win the ACC Tournament in Greensboro next month. Keatts’ mastery of the portal has made all the difference. DJ Burns Jr. has emerged as a bona fide star inside and Jarkel Joiner, the Ole Miss transfer who always seemed limited offensively in Oxford, has repurposed himself as a complete guard to complement Smith.
What Joiner is doing to UNC this half is not legal pic.twitter.com/f6EEHSPBGC
— College Basketball Report (@CBKReport) February 19, 2023
Joiner had 29 Sunday against the Tar Heels, including 5 points in a row as the Wolfpack started a 13-3 run that blew a 60-60 game wide open in the final 5 minutes.
3. Duke (19-8, 10-6)
Don’t look now, but Jon Scheyer’s team finally won a road game in a tough environment. The Blue Devils outclassed Syracuse by 22 points in the JMA Wireless Dome, led by 14 points off the bench from Dariq Whitehead. The forgotten man of Duke’s trio of top 5 recruits, the freshman has played sensational basketball since returning from injury, and he was 4-6 from deep against the Orange and impactful defensively as well, grabbing two steals.
Dariq Whitehead is shooting 50% from 3 in conference play! pic.twitter.com/WV1XZXPGUK
— Blue Devils (@BlueDevils) February 19, 2023
Whitehead is 9-14 from deep since returning from injury and as Duke’s offense extends beyond the paint, this team’s March prospects extend beyond the NCAA Tournament’s first weekend.
2. Virginia (21-4, 13-3)
The good news for the Hoos is they won 2 games last week that would have cost them a seed line had they lost. They also found themselves listed as a 3 seed and 10th overall seed in the NCAA Selection Committee’s first 16-team mock bracket. That’s the highest seed of any ACC team and the lone ACC squad given a geographically protected top 4 spot. The bad news? Virginia’s offense is sputtering. The Cavaliers averaged under a point per possession against two woeful defenses (Louisville and Notre Dame), shooting an icy 31% from beyond the arc in both games. Virginia scored more efficiently earlier in the season and Tony Bennett’s team has to find their footing again offensively if they want to play deep into the NCAA Tournament.
1. Miami (22-5, 13-4)
The Hurricanes continue to be undervalued and underrated nationally. Find a team outside of Kansas that looked more impressive than Miami last week? The U won at Chapel Hill, never trailing in the second half, and then overwhelmed a desperate Wake Forest team in Coral Gables, scoring a staggering 1.26 points per possession in the win. The Hurricanes are up to 6th nationally in KenPom Offensive Efficiency and have found a genuine third wheel in Jordan Miller to complement the polished scoring of Isaiah Wong and Nijel Pack. Miller had 24 points and 11 rebounds in the win over UNC and has been the most efficient offensive player in the ACC during league play.
Jordan Miller & Nijel Pack went to work in Chapel Hill!
Miller: 24 pts (9-14 FG), 11 reb
Pack: 23 pts (7-11 FG | 4-6 3PT)@CanesHoops | #ACCMBB pic.twitter.com/PmVRTGxgai
— ACC Digital Network (@theACCDN) February 14, 2023
He isn’t “ACC Player of the Year” ready because he doesn’t draw the defensive eyeballs of Pack or Wong, but he’s an All-ACC caliber player on a team with one of the best backcourts in college basketball. Miami is a legitimate Final Four contender, and they are playing better than anyone in the ACC this month.