ACC Basketball

ACC Power Rankings | Week 16

Andrew Shurtleff / AP

The Hoos won both games last week, easily handling their inferior competition, including a 36-point win over Wake Forest. That was the fifth time they’ve beaten an opponent by at least 29 points.

The Blue Devils gave up 59.3% shooting to Virginia Tech, then 30.6% to Syracuse…both wins. Right now Duke has the second best offense, according to Ken Pom, but just the 70th rated defense. Elite offenses have walked away with championships, but no team since 2002 (as far back as Ken Pom goes) has won the title with a defense ranked as low as the Blue Devils.

The Irish got a weekend off to think about their loss at home to Syracuse. Standing just 6-5, freshman Bonzie Colson is asked to take the five-spot when Zach Auguste takes a seat. Despite being completely undersized for that position, Colson has scored 16 in back-to-back games, playing less than 20 minutes per contest. In the loss to the Orange, he got to the free throw line nine times (having never gotten than more than four times in a game as season).

With an impressive road win at Miami, maybe the Tar Heels will finally get back on track. Of course I said the same thing after the Georgia Tech victory. At the very least, they’ve gotten back to solid defense, having produced a defensive efficiency rating below 100 in each of their last three games. Prior, they had 100+ efficiency in seven straight games.

I’ll be honest, I’ve been impressed by the Cardinals since Chris Jones departure. While Quentin Snider will never be a legit scoring threat this season, Wayne Blackshear is a primed candidate to slide into the role of one-third of the big three. He had an impressive 18 against Florida State, but instead of piling points up with threes, he was aggressive in the paint, something that’s been a struggle lately. Prior to FSU, Blackshear had just eight twos in his last nine games, instead camping out around the arc.

Embarrassing. Why should I have to write something about a team that gave no effort in a brutal loss to Boston College? What was so surprising was how bad their defense was. Over the previous two weeks, it seemed like the Wolfpack finally got it, holding three of their four opponents to under 53 points. However, a few days after only allowing North Carolina to score 46 for the game, they allowed the worst team in the ACC to score 43 by halftime.

The Panthers loss to Wake Forest wasn’t as bad as NC State’s loss to Boston College, but the Wolfpack are considered in by most, so the less ha less impact right now. However, the Panthers are riding the bubble and their inability to win on the road could keep them out of the NCAA Tournament. Seriously, does anyone see this team winning a game in the ACC Tournament?

Last year Syracuse freshman Tyler Ennis was the talk of the ACC. He stepped right in and led the show, allowed the other stars, like C.J. Fair and Jerami Grant to shine, but in crunch time he wasn’t afraid to put up the shot for the win. Sadly for Orange fans, because Ennis went pro after just one season, when few would have projected him as a draft prospect prior to the season. Fast forward to 2014-15 and another freshman is running the show, yet no one will confuse Kaleb Joseph with Ennis. Unable to hit a deep ball (19% from three), teams sit back and dare him to shoot. His assist-to-turnover ratio isn’t tragic, but there are times when I’m watching Syracuse play and thinking, “hey, is Kaleb hurt, because I don’t see…oh wait, there he is.”

Over the last eight days, the Hurricanes had two opportunities to impress the folks on the NCAA committee with a pair of signature wins. They led nearly the entire way at Louisville, yet couldn’t pull it out. Against North Carolina at home this weekend, they rallied without their starting point guard, but couldn’t keep up at the end. They are just 4-6 in their last 10 and of those four wins, only one came against a team in Ken Pom’s top-100 (Clemson, #83).

The Demon Deacons continue to be the schizophrenic cousin of the ACC. When you see them, you just don’t know who are you’re going to get. Will the crap team that loses by 36 to Virginia show up or the one that pulls off a nice upset against Pittsburgh, a team fighting for a tournament spot?

Nice effort against Louisville at home. The Seminoles are clearly trying to avoid ending the season on a high note, dropping three straight and I’m not holding out hope they’ll earn a victory at Pittsburgh next weekend. Take away Xavier Rathan-Mayes scoring, FSU is just 38-for-94 from the floor, 6-for-25 from three.

Seniors Rod Hall and Damarcus Harrison will be playing their final game in Littlejohn Coliseum this week. Both are coming off a solid effort in a win over Georgia Tech. Hall scored 15 and dished out four assists, while Harrison got his first start in a long while and scored 15, hitting 9-for-11 from the FT line.

Did you know only five teams in the entire country shoot worse from three than Georgia Tech (out of 351 schools). Those are Nicholls St., North Carolina A&T, Alcorn St., Savannah St. and Nevada. All of those schools are mid-majors, so the Yellow Jackets are technically the worst three-point shooting team out of all the schools from the big conferences.

They went toe-to-toe with the ACC’s best and walked away a loser in both, as expected. At least it was nice to see Satchel Pierce. The freshman big man played a gutsy 31 minutes against Duke and Jahlil Okafor, fouling out after scoring on 4-of-5 buckets. Still, he needs to work on the glass. In 44 total minutes this week, he grabbed just five boards.

Olivier Hanlan has a solid case to be ACC player of the year over Jahlil Okafor, but it’s not going to happen. Sure POYs haven’t always been on great teams in this league, but two conference wins will be too much to overlook. Hopefully he’ll settle for first-team All-Conference.


  1. Thomas

    March 2, 2015 at 3:11 pm

    Seriously. You only have Clemson at 12. There is no way Clemson should be behind Wake Forest or Florida State. Clemson went 2-1 against those teams. They have a better conference and overall record than both of those teams. They also have more and better quality wins, and a higher RPI ranking than both those teams. There is absolutely no justification for having Clemson that low.

  2. Robert

    March 2, 2015 at 5:21 pm

    All excellent points. I would have zero problems if I saw a power rankings with Clemson ahead of those two teams. Hell, a good argument could be made to have Miami slated behind all of them.

    For the record though, I don’t think too much about RPI when doing the power rankings, I’m not trying to mirror those rankings. My thinking is, right now. If you won 10 games in a row earlier in the season, but are riding a five-game losing streak, the latter will effect my thinking more.

    Yes, head-to-head matters to me a little, but if that’s the only thing that matters, then the rankings will just mirror the standings. Besides, Clemson/FSU did split and the Tigers did beat Wake by two at home. Yet, they didn’t have to play them again on the road.

    Part of it is disappointment. A month ago I was driving the Clemson bandwagon, but the moment I think they are a tournament team, they dropped four of five, forcing me to put the bandwagon back in the garage.

    FSU has gone 6-6 in their last 12, losing three straight to Virginia, Miami and Louisville. The fact is, Clemson would have most likely lost those games as well. Wake Forest is hard to figure out. They are 4-4 in their last eight, including three wins over teams vying for a tournament bid, all in Ken Pom’s top-70. Shouldn’t I reward them for those good wins?

    Clemson is 6-4 in their last 10, but overall just two wins came against top-70 foes in ACC play, four all together.

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