Conference play got underway in the ACC, and the most revealing result was Virginia’s 61-52 home victory Sunday over North Carolina.
The Cavaliers got contributions from their deep bench and 19 points from junior Joe Harris, and Tony Bennett’s team out-everythinged the Tar Heels. This victory for Virginia made up for its loss to Old Dominion and put the Cavaliers back on track for an NCAA invitation.
It also suggested the Tar Heels shouldn’t make NCAA reservations just yet. Here are this week’s rankings:
1. Duke (14-0 overall, 1-0 ACC)
The Blue Devils certainly didn’t play like the No. 1 team in the nation this past week in wins over Davidson and Wake Forest, but they remain unbeaten and well-established to continue forging forward. Ryan Kelly had a big week with 40 points, which is a really good sign. If he can score 15 a night, Duke can take another step forward.
2. NC State (12-2, 1-0)
Disregard NC State’s struggle at Boston College over the weekend; it was expected and was healthy for the Wolfpack. NC State needs to learn how to win close games on the road against foes that target it, unlike in years past. Mark Gottfried’s team got better with the win.
3. Maryland (13-1, 1-0)
Mark Turgeon’s team has a lot of weapons and may be the team to watch moving forward. The Terrapins are deep, can defend when necessary and are well-coached. The 94-71 win over struggling Virginia Tech showcased all that the Terrapins can do with the ball. There’s more to come.
4. Miami (10-3, 1-0)
What a terrific win the Hurricanes had in taking care of Georgia Tech in the Yellow Jackets’ new home. Rion Brown was excellent off the bench, but the Hurricanes defended big time. They better do a lot more of that to make up for not having Reggie Johnson for the next several weeks or more.
5. Virginia (11-3, 1-0)
The Cavaliers sure can play defense, and they are excellent at recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of opponents. That was particularly evident in Sunday’s win over North Carolina. Virginia has won 10 of 11 games and, now that point guard Jontel Evans has returned, expect the Cavaliers to continue to get better.
6. North Carolina (10-4, 0-1)
The Tar Heels’ lack of a true point guard or offensive post presence was a big part of their problem in the loss at Virginia. But a lack of toughness and execution were more responsible for their fourth loss in four games against a quality foe away from Chapel Hill.
7. Florida State (9-5, 1-0)
Losing at Auburn last week only made the road to an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament that much more challenging for the Seminoles. Winning at Clemson over the weekend helped restore some order for FSU, but it still isn’t ready to leap-frog anyone in the power rankings.
8. Georgia Tech (10-3, 0-1)
The Yellow Jackets built up a lot of confidence racking up six consecutive wins before Miami got them 62-49 on The Flats. Perhaps had Brian Gregory played a tougher slate of games, the Jackets would have been better prepared for Miami’s athletic ability and length.
9. Virginia Tech (9-5, 0-1)
This team continues to plummet, in part because the Hokies don’t play much defense and have no identifiable approach on offense. Lots of helter-skelter stuff with the ball won’t work in the ACC, as was the case in a 94-71 loss at Maryland.
10. Clemson (8-5, 0-1)
Blowing out The Citadel is one thing, but falling at home to FSU is another, and with ACC play here, Clemson isn’t going to have any more cupcakes to pounce on. The Tigers fell at home to the Seminoles 71-66 on Saturday, though they could have won. But Clemson’s biggest issue is not having players that can create in key moments.
11. Boston College (8-6, 0-1)
The Eagles darn near got NC State, but just couldn’t close the deal. Boston College has had a few nice moments this season. Saturday was almost a great one, and it indicated that this team and program are making some progress.
12. Wake Forest (7-6, 0-1)
Beating Xavier usually reflects well on how a team is playing, but the Musketeers are having a down season, so gauging the value of Wake’s win over them last week may take more time. It certainly wasn’t a negative, nor was Wake’s no-quit attitude in an 18-point loss at Duke.