It’s safe to say the ACC standings are upside down from what many expected at this point in the year. If you had Wake Forest, Clemson and Virginia Tech being ahead of Duke, North Carolina and N.C. State, raise your hand.
Hand raised? Book yourself a ticket to Vegas and place a few bets.
The first couple conference games have shown why preseason rankings and predictions often don’t mean much - what matters is the games that are actually played on the court.
It’s also caused quite a shake-up with the second edition of our ACC Power Rankings.
1. Syracuse - 14-0, 1-0
The Orange weren’t particularly impressive in their 49-44 win at home over Miami this past Saturday, but it was still good enough to get the job done. With the way C.J. Fair and Tyler Ennis are playing, Syracuse looks like the best hope for the ACC having a team make a run to a national championship.
2. Pittsburgh - 14-1, 2-0
Despite no one really talking about Pittsburgh, the Panthers have put together an excellent start to the season. Talib Zanna has been a workhorse for Jamie Dixon in the paint and Lamar Patterson has played like a potential ACC Player of the Year candidate. The Panthers’ 14-1 record is no fluke.
3. Notre Dame - 10-4, 1-0
Is Notre Dame really the third best team in the conference? Probably not. Prior to Saturday’s win over Duke, I wouldn’t have had the Irish as one of the top eight teams in the league. But, knocking off the Blue Devils on your home court after your leading scorer has been kicked out of school says a lot about a team. They’ve earned this ranking...for now.
4. Wake Forest - 11-3, 1-0
Similar to Notre Dame, I doubt Wake Forest will stay in this spot in the rankings for long. That being said, the Demon Deacons are 11-3 and opened conference play with an upset over No. 19 UNC, leaving the Jeff Bzdelik haters in quite a conundrum. Codi Miller-McIntyre, Devin Thomas and Travis McKie give the Deacons a nice trio to build around, and right now they’re building something very productive.
5. Duke - 11-3, 0-1
The frustrating aspect of putting Duke at No. 5 in these rankings is the fact that the Blue Devils have more talent and potential than any of the teams ahead of them. However, it’s also important to remember this is a young team who has plenty of time to put things together. Hopefully one of those things includes relying on Jabari Parker down the stretch in close games.
6. North Carolina - 10-4, 0-1
North Carolina might be the toughest team to rank or assess in the country, because they appear to have a serious bi-polar disorder this season. The Heels have proven they’re more than capable of dominating any team in the country. On the other hand, they’ve proven to be extremely vulnerable against any team in the country. Your guess is as good as mine with this group.
7. Virginia - 10-4, 1-0
Stop the press - the Cavaliers finally beat a good team on the road! Florida State has quietly put together a solid start to the season and the fact that UVA was able to go into Tallahassee and beat the Seminoles in convincing fashion is a good sign for Tony Bennett’s club. It’s also a positive for Virginia that Justin Anderson has now scored in double figures in five consecutive games.
8. Maryland - 10-6, 2-1
Aside from getting drilled by Pittsburgh last night in a 79-59 blowout, the Terrapins got their ACC season started on the right track, picking up wins over Boston College and Georgia Tech. The lack of a true point guard continues to be the biggest challenge for Maryland, but they’ve got the size and toughness to create issues for many other teams in the ACC.
9. Florida State - 9-4, 0-1
For a team that was expected to really struggle this season with a lack of offensive options, the Seminoles have been one of the more underrated squads in the ACC. The FSU fanbase probably hasn’t noticed because they’ve been focused on football, but the Noles picked up great nonconference wins against VCU and UMass, and nearly upset Michigan and Florida. Ian Miller and Okaro White give Leonard Hamilton’s team a chance to do some damage in conference play.
10. Clemson - 10-3, 1-0
It’s tough to know what to make of Clemson because the Tigers really don’t have any wins against quality opponents. However, they also don’t have any bad losses and opened ACC play with a 62-60 victory over Boston College. One thing is certain - if you haven’t watched Clemson forward K.J. McDaniels, you’re missing out.
11. N.C. State - 10-4, 0-1
If T.J. Warren could get some help, N.C. State would be much more dangerous. The sophomore forward is averaging 23 points and eight rebounds while shooting over 52 percent from the field. Unfortunately for the Wolfpack, he’s had to do much of the work by himself and the team clearly misses the way Scott Wood was able to stretch defenses with his perimeter shooting.
12. Georgia Tech - 9-5, 0-1
Georgia Tech was already struggling to score the ball, and things got even worse when it was announced Robert Carter Jr. is out indefinitely with a knee injury. He was emerging as a double-double threat on a regular basis and gave the Jackets a formidable frontline when paired with Daniel Miller. Now, the inconsistent guards will have to step up.
13. Virginia Tech - 8-5, 0-1
It looked like the Hokies had things going in a positive direction with an overtime win over Miami in the ACC opener. Then, they followed that up with a blowout loss to VCU and a terrible home loss to UNC Greensboro. There’s just not much reason for optimism in Blacksburg right now.
14. Miami - 8-6, 0-2
Jim Larranaga has to be pleased with the fact that his young team nearly upset Syracuse in the Carrier Dome this past Saturday and had a lead late in the second half. There are no moral victories at this level of college basketball, but for a team that’s clearly in rebuilding mode - you have to have some positive moments to build on.
15. Boston College - 4-11, 0-2
Is it too late for Boston College to just wrap up this season and look ahead to next year? In my first ACC Power Rankings, I said it was going to get worse for the Eagles before it got any better. Sure enough - it’s worse. Steve Donahue’s club is now on a four-game losing streak and has dropped seven of its last eight games. Brutal.
About David: David is a passionate Duke fan whose dreams of playing for Duke were cut short due to a lack of talent and conditioning. He also had a soft spot for fried chicken. Now, David covers the Blue Devils for Bleacher Report and Duke Report. And he still loves fried chicken.