Through the games of December 5th.
1. Duke (7-1) (last rankings: 1)
Best win: Kansas
Worst loss: Ohio State
Duke finally suffered a loss in a not-very-close game to Ohio State. Still, their offense is ranked 6th nationally and their defense 19th. This week they have Colorado State and Washington to get back on track. With four players shooting 40%+ on 3s, scoring shouldn’t be an issue.
2. North Carolina (6-2) (last: 2)
Best win: Wisconsin
Worst loss: UNLV
Like Duke, UNC is elite both offensively and defensively, but Duke gets the nod because they didn’t lose to UNLV. The one major kink in the armor is a perimeter defense which is unable to turn teams over (282nd nationally). Offensively, Harrison Barnes has yet to show improvement over last season (offensive rating of 104.5). The team also needs to make free throws, especially since they’ve been to the line at least 10 more times than their opponent in every game this season.
3. Virginia (7-1) (last: 7)
Best win: Michigan
Worst loss: TCU
UVA seems to have solved some of their early offensive problems, mainly by getting to the line 85 times in the past three games. Their shooting is beginning to come around as well. Defensively, they’re the best the conference has to offer outside of Tallahassee.
4. Florida State (6-3) (last: 3)
Best win: UCF
Worst loss: Harvard
The Noles offensive woes were made public during their first three-game losing streak in four seasons. No one they lost to was a bad loss (Pomeroy rankings of 13, 20 and 37) but their inability to take care of the ball was crushing. Shot selection has also been a bit erratic. When you’re 75th in 2-pt% and 208th in 3-pt%, you might want to look inside before jacking careless threes. Defensively they’ve been stellar, and are on pace to be Leonard Hamilton’s best defense ever.
5. Virginia Tech (5-3) (last: 6)
Best win: Oklahoma State
Worst loss: Minnesota
In season’s past, three early losses would have been debilitating to their Tourney resume. But the new Virginia Tech actually schedule decent teams, and this should pay off come March. Back-to-back wins over Oklahoma State and St Bonaventure boost their resume, though they really needed to pull off a win against Minnesota or K-State. They’ve done a great job forcing contested shots (18th in defenses eFG%) but aren’t turning teams over (288th) and aren’t keeping teams off the offensive glass (273rd). Clear these up and they’ll be really good.
6. NC State (5-3) (last: 4)
Best win: Texas
Worst loss: Vanderbilt
NC State blew a golden opportunity for a signature win on the road against Stanford. Now, all they have left out of conference is Syracuse. It’s too early to declare anything a ‘must-win’, but if they want to be playing in the right Tournament come March, a win over the Orangemen would go a long way.
7. Miami (5-2) (last: 5)
Best win: Rutgers
Worst loss: Mississippi
With the best center in the conference sidelined with an injury, Jim Larranaga’s team has been able to take care of business against passable opponents. But they weren’t able to put away Mississippi, or to get a needed win against Purdue. Now they get Memphis and West Virginia and a split is the minimum they’ll likely need come March. The committee doesn’t exactly have a solid track record when dealing with injuries to star players.
8. Wake Forest (5-3) (last: 8)
Best win: Nebraska
Worst loss: Arizona State
Arizona State is the only major conference team in the nation with turnover problems worse than FSU, and if they don’t get that figured out Wake’s loss to them may start to look really bad on their resume. Wake isn’t a tournament team, but still, perception matters. The Demon Deacons have a nice test this weekend against Seton Hall, which would be a feather in Bzdelik’s cap if he can pull it off. Wake has been unlucky at the free throw line (opponents are shooting over 78%), so that reverting to the mean could result in an extra win sometime soon.
9. Maryland (4-3) (last: 11)
Best win: Notre Dame
Worst loss: Illinois
Maryland doesn’t have a bad loss, but they don’t have a really good win either. And, unfortunately, they don’t have any more opportunities to get one. If by some miracle they are going to be a Tournament team, then ACC play will have to do it. They do get Alexi Len back fairly soon, which should help tremendously with depth and size.
10. Georgia Tech (4-4) (last: 9)
Best win: VCU
Worst loss: LSU
The Tech offense has been awful. They’re 269th in TO%, 264th in 3-pt%, and 322nd at getting to the line. Looking at their roster its hard to see where that is going to improve. Defensively, they’ve been surprisingly good. They don’t turn teams over but they do everything else well. A big test with Georgia looms on Wednesday.
11. Clemson (4-3) (last: 10)
Best win: Iowa
Worst loss: Coastal Carolina
Thankfully they beat Iowa, otherwise their best win would be over #235 Furman. Like many other ACC teams, lack of an offense has been a big issue. Clemson turns the ball over (229th), and when they don’t they aren’t solid at extending possessions. Their offensive rebounding is adequate (134th) but they’re horrible at getting to the line (313th). Everything they do poorly on offense, they do really well on defense. Brad Brownell’s club is solid on that end of the court.
12. Boston College (2-6) (last: 12)
Best win: New Hampshire
Worst loss: Holy Cross
There is zero chance that Boston College will rise out of the #12 spot in the ACC at any point this season. They’re #4 just in the city of Boston. Their offense is 252nd, their defense is 295th. Good luck BC fans.