With the non-conference schedule over, here’s where every team stands in our ACC Power Rankings.
Still dull, still championship-caliber. Jayden Gardner is playing great for this team and filling his role exactly how Tony Bennett would expect. The real surprise so far has been how truly balanced this team is. Five players average between 9-12 points per game. Freshman Issac McKneely and Ryan Dunn are filling significant bench minutes. UVA is as well-balanced as they come and deserving of the top spot in the power rankings heading into ACC play, despite a tough loss to Miami.
Duke’s first-year students are building chemistry fast; the danger is on the horizon for fellow ACC teams. The loss in late November to Purdue was bad. But the bounce back against Ohio State and Iowa make up for that loss. Kyle Filipowski looks like the real deal, averaging almost a double-double per game. Jeremy Roach is playing great but the high minutes every night could affect him down the stretch. Duke needs Dariq Whitehead to start playing well if the Blue Devils plan to be in contention for a National Championship come March.
Isaiah Wong continues to prove he is a big-time player and a worthwhile investment for the Miami boosters who brought him back from the portal. Similar to Virginia Tech, the strength of the out-of-conference schedule is the issue with this team. Miami has beaten Rutgers, Virginia, and NC State but also let up 105 (!) points to Cornell in regulation. The defense needs to be stepped up if this team wants to be feared in March.
4. Virginia Tech
Reigning ACC Champs, Virginia Tech has continued its momentum into this season. Sean Pedulla has been the efficient player the Hokies have needed. Justyn Mutts and Grant Basile have been handling the paint exceptionally well. The only knock against Virginia Tech has been their strength of schedule. The win against UNC was nice, but how the Hokies respond to the grind of conference play will determine whether they can leapfrog Miami in the coming months. The loss to Boston College does not help.
5. North Carolina
UNC is arguably the best 9-4 team in the nation. The four-overtime loss to Alabama was a heartbreaker. The loss to Iowa State was just embarrassing. The recent wins against Ohio State and Michigan show why UNC is still a force (and that the Big Ten is overrated). Armando Bacot is still showing why he is the best big man in the ACC, and Caleb Love is showing why he deserves to be in early talks for ACC player of the year. UNC needs to figure out how to win, but with the Tar Heels’ experience and talent, I would not bet against them.
How about them Tigers? Chase Hunter has looked as good as advertised, and Hunter Tyson has looked better than expected down low. A gritty win against Penn State and two quality wins against Towson and Richmond have the Tigers looking underrated heading into conference play.
Blake Hinson. Federiko Federiko. Greg Elliot. These transfers showed up in Oakland with little fanfare and have turned the program upside down. The early season beatdowns by Michigan and West Virginia were about as bad as it gets, but this team is heating up. Will conference play expose them the way Michigan and West Virginia did? If they keep up the shooting percentage and make teams pay on offense, this team will be a dark horse come March.
Everyone reading this site had high expectations for Jesse Edwards, and Edwards has surpassed them. Almost three blocks a game while averaging a double-double? Ridiculous. Judah Mintz has been an excellent PG for Syracuse and has shown flashes of being the potential freshman of the year in the ACC. But he needs to display more maturity after getting ejected in a loss to Bryant. Joe Girard can still fill up the stat sheet with great shooting performances. The Illinois loss was beyond bad, but the Orange are a young squad still figuring it out. If the Orange do manage to figure it out, this team will be a scary team to face down the road.
9. NC State
Yes, this team is 10-3. Yes, the best returnee in the ACC, Terquavion Smith, is looking like the best player in the ACC. But their best wins are against Butler and Dayton, and the Wolfpack are now 0-2 in ACC play. This team can be good and a potential tournament team, but until they start beating other ACC teams, they are not worthy of being ranked above Pitt or Syracuse.
10. Wake Forest
The Demon Deacons have been destroyed by Rutgers and Clemson and lost to LMU. Wake Forest is not good. Yes, the win against Wisconsin was nice, but their next two games are against Duke and Virginia Tech. Wake Forest has a challenging path to January, and it will get worse before it gets better. Tyree Appleby has been a great player, proving he could start for any team in the ACC. But the Demon Deacons have no bench. With no depth, I do not see a fantastic path in the future for this team.
11. Notre Dame
Hand up. I was wrong. I thought the Irish would be an excellent team this year, and I was wrong. Now, Notre Dame heads into ACC play with two consecutive beat-downs at the hands of Marquette and Georgia. Are you kidding me? This team was supposed to be all-guard play. Instead, their best player so far has been Nate Laszewski. Unless the guards figure it out, Notre Dame is in for a long season.
12. Georgia Tech
The trip to Florida for the Fort Meyers Tip-Off went almost as badly as possible. Miles Kelly and Dallan Coleman have been a surprisingly great backcourt for the Yellow Jackets, but the frontcourt is not good. This will become even more apparent once Jesse Edwards, Armando Bacot, and the slew of great big men come through Atlanta this spring. Georgia Tech is in trouble, and until front-court help shows up, expect Georgia Tech to be in the gutter.
13. Florida State
Hand up. I was really, really wrong about Florida State. The 17-point loss to Siena on Thanksgiving made me think I was hallucinating from overeating Turkey. When Baba Miller returns from suspension, Florida State will get better quickly, but it is tough to be optimistic about the boys from Tallahassee. As always, time will tell.
14. Boston College
How do you lose by 16 points to Tarleton? Who even is Tarleton? Donald Hand Jr. is out for the season, Makai Ashton-Langford has a bad hamstring, and Quinten Post has a foot issue. Boston College is trending downward, and upcoming match-ups against Virginia Tech and Syracuse will not be beneficial to helping the Eagles get back on track.
This may be the worst ACC team of all time. I predicted Louisville to be bad and finish last in the ACC, and the Cardinals still have me in complete shock with their incompetence. Good luck to the Cardinals the rest of the way.