ACC Power Rankings, Week of 3/17

Virginia has won the ACC Tournament for the first time in 38 years, and in doing so remains atop these rankings as they head into the NCAA Tournament.  While a couple of “middle five” teams did qualify for the semifinals in Greensboro, and the NCAA Tournament this week, for the most part the field, as it has for the last few weeks, stayed divided into a clear top four, middle five, and bottom six.

The Top Four

1.  Virginia (28-6 overall, 16-2 ACC, Last Week: 1st)
ACC Tournament:  Florida State (W, 64-51), Pittsburgh (W, 51-48), Duke (W, 72-63)
NCAA Tournament:  1 seed, will play 16 seed Coastal Carolina in Raleigh (Friday, 9:25 PM ET, TBS)
Virginia won their first ACC title since the Ford administration, and was rewarded with the top seed in the NCAA East Region.  Tony Bennett was the ACC Coach of the Year, and will be a candidate for national coach of the year.  We’ll see if they can transfer their success into a deep NCAA run, although many point to a potential Sweet 16 matchup with Michigan State as the possible end for the Wahoos.  The Cavaliers also moved to 3rd in the AP Poll, their highest point since the Ralph Sampson era in 1983.

2.  Duke (26-8, 13-5, 2nd)
ACC Tournament:  Clemson (W, 63-62), NC State (W, 75-67), Virginia (L, 72-63)
NCAA Tournament:  3 seed, will play 14 seed Mercer in Raleigh (Friday, 12:15 PM ET, CBS)
Duke lost the ACC title game, which may have cost them (unfairly, I might add) in NCAA bracketing, as they are a 3 seed.  Some analysts all calling for Mercer to upset the Blue Devils, but I think Duke is too strong for that, particularly after being victimized by Lehigh in the Round of 64 in 2012.  Most are looking forward to a potential Sweet 16 matchup with Michigan, as well as a potential Elite Eight matchup with Wichita State or Louisville.

3.  North Carolina (23-9, 13-5, 3rd)
ACC Tournament:  Pittsburgh (L, 80-75)
NCAA Tournament:  6 seed, will play 11 seed Providence in San Antonio (Friday, 7:20 PM ET, TNT)
The Tar Heels up-and-down season continued in Greensboro, with a loss to Pittsburgh.  The Heels were down 20 with under ten minutes remaining, before fighting back to close to within three at one point before falling by five.  Most are picking them against Providence, pointing to a potential grudge match with Iowa State on Sunday, but don’t overlook the Big East Champion Friars, in their first tournament since 2004.

4.  Syracuse (27-5, 14-4, 4th)
ACC Tournament:  NC State (L, 66-63)
NCAA Tournament:  3 seed, will play 14 Western Michigan in Buffalo (Thursday, 2:45 PM ET, CBS)
Syracuse seems like a team in free fall, having lost five out of seven, but just remember how close they were to sending the NC State game to overtime.  This is still a dangerous team, as teams won’t have much time to prepare for the famous Syracuse zone defense.  Potential road to Dallas includes Ohio State, Kansas, and Florida.

The Middle Five

5.  NC State (21-13, 9-9, 7th)
ACC Tournament:  Miami (W, 67-58), Syracuse (W, 66-63), Duke (L, 67-75)
NCAA Tournament:  12 seed, will play 12 seed Xavier in First Four in Dayton (Tuesday, 9:10 PM ET, TruTV)
This may be weird to think, but if Syracuse had gone 1-for-6 on that last possession (that’s just 17%) it would have kept NC State out of the tournament.  Or, for that matter, if SMU had taken care of business against Houston.  But the Wolfpack are in, and coach Mark Gottfried is very good at getting his teams to overachieve in March.  Remember 2012?  If the Pack can beat Xavier tonight, they would play Saint Louis in the Round of 64, then (likely) Louisville should they advance to the Round of 32.

6.  Pittsburgh (25-9, 11-7, 8th)
ACC Tournament:  Wake Forest (W, 84-55), North Carolina (W, 80-75), Virginia (W, 51-48)
NCAA Tournament:  9 seed, will play 8 seed Colorado in Orlando (Thursday, 1:40 PM ET, TBS)
Pitt looked good in the ACC Tournament, first blowing out Wake Forest, then blowing out North Carolina for the first 30 minutes (although they about blew it), then nearly beating Virginia in the semifinals.  This team is better than the 9 seed they got in the NCAA Tournament, but they will get the chance to prove that if they beat Colorado, as they would (likely) play overall top seeded Florida in the Round of 32.

7.  Florida State (19-13, 9-9, 6th)
ACC Tournament:  Maryland (W, 67-65), Virginia (L, 64-51)
NIT:  1 seed, will host 8 seed Florida Gulf Coast (Tuesday, 7:00 PM ET, ESPN2)
Florida State was one of the first few teams out of the NCAA Tournament, although that was expected.  I’m sure the Seminoles held out hope, but most others realized after the loss to Virginia that a bid was unlikely, due to a lack of big wins.  As one of the top teams in the NIT, they are one of the favorites to win it.

8.  Clemson (20-12, 10-8, 9th)
ACC Tournament:  Georgia Tech (W, 69-65, OT), Duke (L, 63-62)
NIT:  3 seed, will host 6 seed Georgia State (Tuesday, 9:00 PM ET, ESPNU)
Clemson’s NCAA hopes had pretty much ended after losing to Wake Forest, although they could have been rekindled with an ACC Tournament run.  They were one shot away from beating Duke to get to the semifinals, but fell short.  Considering the way the Tigers’ season had been projected by both me and numerous analysts, making the NIT is quite an accomplishment for coach Brad Brownell and his team.  Georgia State is a rare breed, however, as they have two five-star players while in the Sun Belt Conference; Clemson may have their hands against the Panthers.

9.  Maryland (17-16, 9-9, 5th)
ACC Tournament:  Florida State (L, 67-65)
After losing in the Greensboro on a buzzer beater dunk, the Terrapins were the most notable NIT snub, and their season is over.  Therefore, an era of ACC basketball has ended, as Maryland moves to the Big Ten next season.

The Bottom Six

10.  Georgia Tech (16-17, 6-12, 10th)
ACC Tournament:  Boston College (W, 73-70, OT), Clemson (L, 69-65, OT)
Brian Gregory’s second season had its bright spots, although the Yellow Jackets fought injuries issues all season long.  Although they lose seniors Daniel Miller and Trae Golden, the future should be better in Atlanta.

11.  Miami (17-16, 7-11, 11th)
ACC Tournament:  Virginia Tech (W, 57-53), NC State (L, 67-58)
The title defense season for coach Jim Larranaga was a difficult one, although Miami lost all five starters from that championship team.  That being said, for such an inexperienced team to be competitive, and even beat North Carolina, coach Larranaga has done quite a job.  It will be tough again next year, as four players who played significant minutes will graduate, including All-ACC honoree Rion Brown.

12.  Wake Forest (17-16, 6-12, 12th)
ACC Tournament:  Notre Dame (W, 81-69), Pittsburgh (L, 84-55)
Wake Forest officials considered accepting a bid to the CBI, before declining, therefore ending coach Jeff Bzdelik’s fourth season.  Will it be his last?  We may have to wait to find out, with athletic director Ron Wellman currently performing his duties as NCAA Selection Committee Chairman.  The ACC Tournament win was Wake’s first in seven seasons

13.  Notre Dame (15-17, 6-12, 13th)
ACC Tournament:  Wake Forest (L, 69-81)
This was certainly a disappointing year for the Irish, and the worst season for coach Mike Brey in his 14 years in South Bend.  The Irish never recovered from the loss of leading scorer Jerian Grant back in December due to academic issues, and struggled through their inaugural ACC season, although they did get to celebrate a win over Duke on January 4.

14.  Boston College (8-24, 4-12, 14th)
ACC Tournament:  Georgia Tech (L, 73-70, OT)
Despite reports last week that he would return, today coach Steve Donahue and the school “parted ways” after four seasons.  This won’t be a “top job” in the ACC, but it’s still an ACC job that will give someone a great opportunity.

15.  Virginia Tech (9-22, 2-16, 15th)
ACC Tournament:  Miami (L, 57-53)
After the close loss to Miami in Greensboro, coach James Johnson has been fired after two seasons, becoming only the fifth coach in ACC history to last two years or less, and the first Duke’s Neill McGeachy in 1974.  Johnson had been an assistant under Seth Greenberg, and was promoted after Greenberg’s controversial firing in 2012.


Image credit to Wikimedia


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