Buzzer-beaters, upsets and fan ejections — this week of ACC Basketball had everything but a court storming.
This week’s Power Rankings has a quirky feel to it (at least in the 2 slot), so let’s get started.
1. North Carolina Tar Heels (Up 1)
The Tar Heels picked up a road win at Miami and beat Clemson at home (as they have done every year for the last half-century), but that win over the Hurricanes showed me something — UNC is a better basketball team than Duke right now. They might have lost to the Devils a while back, but UNC is looking like the favorite to win the ACC Tournament, even if they don’t win the regular-season title.
2a. Duke Blue Devils (Down 1)
Duke played an atrocious first half against NC State on Thursday night, but stormed back to beat the Wolfpack 78-73 at Cameron Indoor Stadium. They also destroyed Boston College 75-50 on Sunday night, but the Blue Devils have bigger fish to fry: a Thursday night tilt in Tallahassee that might decide who wins the ACC.
2b. Florida State Seminoles (Up 1 … kinda)
Let’s not mince words here — FSU blew the doors off NC State in their own house on Saturday. The 76-62 final score was not reflective of a game where the Seminoles thoroughly dominated the paint and had their way with the Wolfpack’s big men. That kind of a win told me a lot, because they played Virginia Tech in Tallahassee Thursday night and had to turn around and beat a hungry, desperate NC State team on the road less than 48 hours later. They’ll need to do that a couple of times if they want to do damage in the NCAA Tournament.
I ranked FSU and Duke in the same slot because I honestly can’t say Duke is a better team than Florida State, and vice versa. I guess we’ll find out more Thursday night when the two teams face off.
Fun fact: FSU’s win over NC State improved their ACC record to 10-2, the fourth season in a row that the ‘Noles have won 10 ACC games. Only Maryland, Duke and UNC had done that previously.
4. Virginia Cavaliers (No change)
Virginia lost at Clemson on Tuesday night, continuing the complete confusion that happens to good teams when they enter Littlejohn Coliseum. Then, they were tied at halftime with Maryland on Saturday afternoon. But they outscored the Terps 40-13 in the second half, reminding everyone why they are an NCAA Tournament team.
5. Miami Hurricanes (Up 1)
The ‘Canes looked very good against UNC on Wednesday night, but they ended up losing by nine points. They turned around and throttled Wake Forest 74-56 on Saturday, so in other words, pretty standard week for a No. 5 team in the ACC.
6. NC State Wolfpack (Down 1)
NC State is suddenly on the bubble and at risk of being left out of the NCAA Tournament field unless they make moves in the final couple of weeks of the regular season. They had two chances to get a quality win last week, but lost to both Duke and Florida State. They have another chance to redeem themselves Tuesday night, when they host UNC. Keep in mind that this team is notorious for deep runs in the ACC Tournament, so they still have the chance to punch their ticket that way. But it’s best to not leave your hopes to that.
And yes, there was this:
7. Clemson Tigers (Up 1)
Clemson continues to be one of the most difficult teams to figure out, and I think that means that they’re not very good. They beat Virginia at home on Valentine’s Day … by 12 points. They lost to UNC for their encore. This has been the trend for most of the season for the Tigers.
8. Maryland Terrapins (Down 1)
The Terps were blown out by Virginia 71-44 after being tied at halftime. I don’t think Maryland is very close to getting back to where they were in the glory years, and that second half against the Cavaliers was proof of that.
9. Virginia Tech Hokies (No change)
The Hokies are doing the best they can with a roster devastated by injuries. If college basketball games were 36 minutes long instead of 40, they would have won two games this week. But they have to play 40 (and sometimes more), and that seems to be just too much for the Hokies’ seven-man rotation, at least against good teams.
10. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (Up 2)
Well, Wake beat Georgia Tech at home on Feb. 15. That’s pretty much all these bottom-3 teams have to do to move up.
11. Boston College Eagles (Down 1)
BC was blown out twice this week, by Maryland and Duke. That win they had over FSU just keeps getting more and more befuddling. The Eagles have now lost nine of their last 10.
12. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (Down 2)
The Yellow Jackets have also lost nine of their last 10, and they had a shot to upset Virginia Tech on Saturday. But a buzzer-beater by Dorenzo Hudson in overtime put an end to that. It’s just not the year for Georgia Tech, and the breaks keep going against them.