Miami finally came crashing to earth while Duke responded to a loss nicely and North Carolina appears to be a different ball club than from earlier in the season.
At the same time, most of the ACC’s struggling teams at the bottom picked up wins last week in what was an odd seven days of hoops.
Here are this week’s power rankings:
1. Miami (22-4, 13-1)
The struggles at Clemson were easily explained: the Hurricanes were finally being flat. The narrow win over Virginia at home was against a desperate, well-coached team that has a great player. It happens. Getting pounded at Wake Forest brought those aforementioned games back into the picture and reveals a concerning trend is underway. Miami needs to right the ship or it will fall from this spot and psychologically be where it can’t reclaim the edge it had over other teams.
2. Duke (24-3, 11-3)
It was a great week for the Blue Devils, who responded well to the Maryland loss. They got some practice time and were sharper on offense in routs of Virginia Tech on the road and at home against Boston College. Neither opponent presents a daunting task, but the manner Duke went about crushing them was impressive and says a lot about the team’s collective mindset.
3. North Carolina (19-8, 9-5)
Maybe the team in the ACC surging the most, the Tar Heels convincingly won at Georgia Tech and then pulled away from NC State and are playing quite well. The smallish lineup is working and Roy Williams is pushing the right buttons with his team.
4. Virginia (19-8, 9-5)
Tony Bennett’s club is building some shields of mental toughness. After a difficult loss at UNC in which the Tar Heels scored more points than anyone has against Bennett since he got into the ACC, the Cavaliers suffered what was essentially a last-second loss at Miami. But they rebounded to rip apart Georgia Tech, 82-54, and remain in excellent position to get a bye in the ACC Tournament.
5. NC State (19-8, 8-6)
The most underachieving team in the ACC so far this season was once again at it. The Wolfpack looked terrific in pounding Florida State, but then couldn’t handle UNC’s second-half eruption and lost convincingly at the Tar Heels. NC State is in serious danger of having to play on Thursday of the ACC Tournament.
6. Maryland (19-8, 7-7)
This bunch only makes sense in its inconsistency. After closing out the previous week with an RPI-boosting victory over Duke, the Terrapins lost at Boston College, basically canceling out that win. Then they came back and played well against a very good defensive team in Clemson. The record looks better than this team’s current NCAA chances. The Terps need some quality wins now.
7. Wake Forest (12-14, 5-9)
Understanding the Demon Deacons requires a PHD in psychology, because how do you explain a team getting blown out so often on the road that also beats many of the ACC’s best teams at home? Wake Forest not only defeated Miami, but Jeff Bzdelik’s team clobbered the Hurricanes on Saturday.
8. Florida State (14-13, 6-8)
If there was a place further down FSU could fall after getting routed at NC State and giving up 80 points at Virginia Tech in a 10-point loss, the Seminoles would quickly drop there. But the teams below them have been even worse, so the Seminoles could only fall one spot after their lousy week.
9. Clemson (13-13, 5-9)
Offense continues to be an issue for the Tigers. It kept them from competing more with an up-and-down Maryland team — 72-59 loss — as it has kept this team from many other possible victories on the season.
10. Georgia Tech (14-12, 4-10)
In a week where the other lower-end teams picked up wins, the Yellow Jackets fell twice, losing big at home to UNC and by 28 at Virginia. This team was close to putting together a nice string of outings, but hasn’t been able to get it going.
11. Boston College (12-15, 4-10)
The bottom teams picked up victories this past week, including the Eagles over Maryland just days after the Terrapins knocked off Duke. Boston College has proven to be quite difficult at home, but is awful on the road, as evidenced by its uncompetitive loss at Duke on Sunday.
12. Virginia Tech (12-15, 3-11)
The Hokies picked up a victory by defeating a flat Florida State team to end the week after getting ripped apart at home by Duke to start the week. Still in the cellar, this is where Virginia Tech belongs, but this team continues to fight.