ACC Basketball Power Rankings: Week 2
College basketball is back!
Each of the ACC’s basketball members is at least a game deep into the early-season slate, and already there have been some surprises, both in terms of close calls and stunning upsets (I’m looking at you, Florida State!!) Thus far, none of the big boys at the top of our preseason power rankings have been challenged much, but that will begin to change soon as College Basketball “Feast Week” events get underway this week, with ACC teams involved in a number of MTE’s (multi-team events), beginning with Jeff Capel and Pitt at the Legends Classic, which will tip Wednesday in New York.
Here is a look at where things stand after 1 week of play in Saturday Road’s weekly look at the top teams in the ACC.
15. Louisville (0-2)
Opening week for Kenny Payne did not go as the Cardinals hoped. Yes, they were competitive in both games. Two 1-point losses is excruciating stuff. But both losses came at the KFC Yum! Center, adding salt to the wound. The defeats were nearly polar opposites, despite the equal margins. In the opener against Bellarmine, Louisville fell way behind, mounted a furious comeback, and came up just short. In Saturday’s loss to Wright State, Louisville led most of the game, only to see Trey Calvin hit this shot at the buzzer to send Payne’s first Louisville team home 0-2.
In case you somehow missed it… Here's how the final 20 seconds went down yesterday and another look at Trey Calvin's game-winner as we beat Louisville on the road. #RaiderUP | #RaiderFamily pic.twitter.com/GACP2GP7Ye
— Wright State Men’s Basketball (@WSU_MBB) November 13, 2022
Louisville will hope to get win No. 1 for Payne when Appalachian State visits Tuesday night.
14. Florida State (0-2)
The Seminoles are short-handed, devastated by the injury to glue guy Jaylan Gainey and the 16-game improper benefits suspension to five-star freshman Baba Miller. (Consider Miller’s suspension for taking stipend style benefits with Bill Self’s 4 game self-imposed suspension for alleged rampant, systemic cheating at Kansas to get an idea of how absurd the NCAA remains). But Saturday Road digresses. In any event, a nightmarish start for the Noles, who lost at the Tucker Center to Stetson, where they had been almost invincible (1 home loss to non-conference foes from 2019-2022). Stetson isn’t a sneaky good low major, by the way– they were picked to finish a dismal 13th in the Atlantic Sun. The Seminoles next trick was forcing 20 turnovers at UCF this weekend and still losing by 14, thanks to a “you can’t make this up” 52-22 rebounding edge for UCF. Wow. An “epitome of brutality” start for Leonard Hamilton’s guys.
13. Clemson (1-1)
The Tigers went 1-1 in a week they should have gone 2-0. The opening-night win against The Citadel didn’t really inspire much confidence ahead of a rivalry game tilt with South Carolina, and the Tigers were felled in Columbia when Chico Carter Jr. hit a bucket with 0.8 seconds remaining to give the Gamecocks a big Year 1 win under Lamont Paris. A tough start, with difficult Feast Week games ahead at the Emerald Coast Classic down in Florida next week.
12. Pittsburgh (1-1)
The Panthers stay ahead of Clemson because they went 1-1 in a week that was to be expected. Jeff Capel’s team rolled UT-Martin, behind 27 points and 13 boards from a finally healthy version of Blake Hinson, the Ole Miss transfer who oozes talent but rarely has stayed healthy. They then lost badly in the basketball Backyard Brawl to West Virginia, who was a road favorite and played like it. Pitt will begin the ACC’s Feast Week when it takes on Michigan on Wednesday at the Legends Classic in New York.
11. Georgia Tech (2-0)
A good start for Josh Pastner’s team, though the level of competition left something to be desired. Still, a win against Georgia State likely will stay in the Quad 3 category, which means a loss would have hurt the Yellow Jackets terribly. Guards Dallan Coleman and Miles Kelly were formidable in the Ramblin’ Wreck’s first 2 wins — averaging 25 points between them.
10. Syracuse (1-0)
The ACC’s lone team to play just once to date, the Orange looked crisp offensively in lighting up Lehigh, a respectable program out of the Patriot League, 90-72 on opening night at the building formerly and forever known as the Carrier Dome (JMA Wireless Dome). The bigger news this week at Syracuse, though, was Carmelo Anthony’s son Kiyan receiving an offer to suit up for the Orange.
— Kiyan Anthony (@kiyananthony) November 13, 2022
For a program currently dreaming of a return to the Carmelo glory days, it had to be hard not to dream of a storybook return to glory behind Kiyan Anthony.
9. Boston College (2-0)
A year ago, Earl Grant’s team lost more close games than almost anyone in the country (4th nationally in losses by 5 or less). This season they opened with 2 wins by 5 or less, nipping Cornell by 2 in their opener and besting a talented Detroit Mercy team by 4 over the weekend. That’s progress, even if the competition wasn’t elite.
8. NC State (2-0)
Kevin Keatts’ team needed a fast start after last year’s disastrous November. They got it last week, smacking Austin Peay opening night by 49 points and handling Campbell in the Greater Raleigh Area, Not Durham or Chapel Hill Division, Championship game Friday night. Jarkel Joiner, the Ole Miss transfer with NBA talent but never much consistency, was terrific Friday, pouring in 17 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists in the victory over the Fighting Camels.
7. Notre Dame (2-0)
Speaking of weathering the storm in close games, Mike Brey rode his veterans to 2 narrow wins in Week 1, bouncing a vastly improved Radford team out of the Big South by 3 and then upending another improved team in Youngstown State by 7 over the weekend. As expected, the graduate student trio of Dane Goodwin, Nate Laszewski, and Cormac Ryan was in the middle of it all, with Ryan burying a huge shot to help the Fighting Irish capture the comeback win against Radford.
— ACC Digital Network (@theACCDN) November 11, 2022
As anticipated, this isn’t a deep Notre Dame team, as only 7 players saw action in the season’s first 2 games. Brey would love to extend that number to 8, but for now, heavy minutes on a rotation of 6 is expected to be the formula. That’s tough on anyone, even a team as talented and experienced as the Irish.
6. Wake Forest (2-0)
Steve Forbes really can coach, and his team looked sharp in Week 1, cruising past Fairfield in its opener and pounding Georgia 81-71 Friday night. The Demon Deacons received a huge performance against Georgia from Tyree Appleby, the Florida transfer who, in an interesting twist of fate, was playing his former Florida head coach Mike White, who left for Georgia during the offseason. Appleby stuffed the stat sheet with 22 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists for the Demon Deacons in the win. Wake Forest will head to Jamaica this week for the Jersey Mike’s Jamaica Classic, which is to tip Friday.
5. Virginia (2-0)
The Hoos opened with a sluggish win against North Carolina Central but responded with a 47-point rout of Monmouth on Friday. Two Cavs freshmen, Ryan Dunn and Isaac McKneeley combined for 28 points against Monmouth, a good early return from 2 of Tony Bennett’s blue-chip, 4-star recruits. Virginia has a testy Monday night game against Northern Iowa before heading out to Las Vegas for the star-studded Continental Tire Main Event tournament that is to begin Friday with a showdown between the Cavs and Baylor.
4. Miami (2-0)
Jim Larrañaga’s team won 2 games comfortably in Week 1, showcasing a vastly improved defense in both games. That was expected, with Jordan Miller and Norchad Omier forming a formidable group in the frontcourt. What might be concerning? The Canes collected just 27 points from their reserves over 2 games, and Larrañaga’s rotation still seems stuck at 7 to open the season, a bit thinner than the narrative fed the media about improved depth over the offseason. The good news? Miami posted these wins without much from All-American candidate Isaiah Wong, who shot just 10-for-25 from the field during the season’s first 2 games.
3. Duke (2-0)
Two wins to start the Jon Scheyer era, with a 27-point victory over a Jacksonville team expected to contend in the Atlantic Sun an impressive showing. Dereck Lively II getting 14 minutes against USC Upstate was huge as well, if only because it suggests he’ll play more when the Blue Devils meet No. 5 Kansas on Tuesday at the State Farm Champions Classic.
2. Virginia Tech (3-0)
The Hokies rolled to 3 opening-week wins, all by at least 17 points. The wins weren’t against great teams — Lehigh was the best of the 3 teams Virginia Tech played. But the Hokies really can shoot it, hitting 45% of their 3-point attempts in the season’s first 3 games. They also impressed by dominating these opponents without much from All-American candidate Justyn Mutts, who played in only 2 of the opening 3 wins and was limited to just 18 points and 15 rebounds over those contests. It will be fun to watch Virginia Tech at the Charleston Classic this week.
1. North Carolina (2-0)
The Tar Heels defeated 2 solid mid-major opponents in UNC Wilmington and College of Charleston, starting the 2022-23 “championship or bust” march strong. Armando Bacot was sensational in the 2nd game, dropping 28 points, snagging 6 rebounds and showcasing a host of new post moves in shooting 10-for-13 Friday night.
— Bally Sports South (@BallySportsSO) November 12, 2022
Bacot and the Fatigueless Four also played massive minutes in both games, putting to bed the early-season expanded depth narrative, at least for the time being. That’s worth monitoring as the Tar Heels move towards their 1st big challenges at the PK 85 event in Portland, Ore., next week.