I was able to talk with Scott Polacek (@ScottPolacek) of bleacherreport.com, Brian Horace (@DukeBlogger) of dukeblogger.com, and Matt Purdy (@UMwolfpack87) of scacchoops.com about their thoughts on the ACC this season. All four of us created separate rankings for the ACC Basketball teams and they were compared to create our list. What I learned through the different rankings? The middle teams are extremely close and can be slotted in many different ways. After Duke, Syracuse and North Carolina, it will be interesting to see who steps up, and how many teams make the tournament. Here are our rankings based on a combined score from the four rankings.
1. Syracuse (Range: 1-2)
Usually ranked behind Duke to start the year, Syracuse has been very impressive to start the year. Their zone fits the new NCAA rules extremely well and freshman point guard Tyler Ennis has outperformed expectations. They will be in a tight fight to win the ACC with Duke, but they will be a top seed in the NCAA Tournament regardless.
2. Duke (1-2)
Duke has not gotten off to a normal strong start, but they have been steadily improving throughout the nonconference schedule. They will be in a tough race with Syracuse for the ACC crown, but again will safely be a top seed in the NCAA Tournament.
3. North Carolina (3)
Even without PJ Hairston, this UNC team will be an NCAA team. They are the last team that I could see winning the ACC. They will have a tough time beating out Duke and Syracuse, but they do have a chance. UNC has big wins but they need to continue to be consistent against the mediocre teams. UNC may not have the talent of Duke or Syracuse, but they should not be overlooked.
4. Florida State (4-7)
Florida State has surprised many people with their play early in the season. They have big wins over UMass and VCU and close losses to Michigan and Florida. They were not ranked this high to start the year but have overachieved early in the season. I believe they have a good chance of being a NCAA Tournament team and will end up making it.
5. Pittsburg (4-11)
While Brian Horace is lower on this team and their weak non-conference schedule, Pittsburg has shown their talent early in the season. They will need to adjust to the increased talent level in the ACC, as they played no ranked teams in the non-conference slate. I believe they will make the NCAA Tournament but they could also crash under the strength of the ACC.
6. North Carolina State (4-8)
North Carolina State is a team that has definitely overachieved to start the season. Senior TJ Warren has been one of the best players in the ACC, leading with 23.9 points per game. Warren’s skill will win them multiple ACC games but I do not see them as a NCAA Tournament team. They will definitely make a run at it but I see them ultimately fall short.
7. Virginia (6-10)
If the ACC gets a sixth NCAA Tournament team, I believe that team will be Virginia. They faltered at the end of their non-conference schedule, losing badly to Tennessee, but they are a talented team with a great defense. All-ACC First Team player, Joe Harris, has gotten off to a slow start but he has the chance to turn this team around and let them get on a run.
8. Maryland (5-11)
Maryland does not have any impressive wins this season but they will look forward to ending their ACC run with a bang. Sophomore point guard, Seth Allen, has returned from an early season injury and will join Dez Wells and Jake Layman to give Maryland a very talented team. They have the chance to make the NCAA Tournament but I see them as a NIT team.
9. Wake Forest (5-12)
Wake Forest has gotten off to a good start, playing a close game against Kansas. They are not a tournament caliber team but they have definitely taken a step in the right direction for their future. If sophomores Codi Miller-McIntyre, Devin Thomas and Tyler Cavanaugh continue to develop, Wake Forest could have a bright future.
10. Notre Dame (7-13)
Just a week ago, Notre Dame would have been in the four to six range with a great chance at making the NCAA Tournament. Those hopes seemed to end with the loss of senior guard Jerian Grant to academic issues. Notre Dame has other talent but greatly relied on Grant to win them games. They have a fighter’s chance in the ACC but I do not expect them to truly succeed.
11. Clemson (8-11)
Clemson has gotten off to a hot start but none of us expect that run to continue. NCAAGameSim.com has the Tigers ranked at number two of the ACC but this run will not likely continue. Junior KJ McDaniels will continue to lead them to wins but likely not enough to keep them competitive in the ACC.
12. Georgia Tech (9-13)
Georgia Tech also just received bad news, as they will be losing starting forward Daniel Carter for an extended period of time. They were a time that would likely struggle in the ACC with Carter so this is a huge loss for them. They are not the worst team in the ACC but they will struggle to stay relevant.
13. Virginia Tech (12-14)
Virginia Tech has talent but they do not seem to mesh. They finished last in the ACC last season with ACC Player of the Year, Erick Green. Without him, they will struggle to win games. They likely will stay in many games but will struggle to finish off many wins.
14. Miami (11-15)
Like Virginia Tech, Miami has talented players on their team but will not win many games. Their talent does not fit and they have not continued their success from last season into this season. Losing so many talented players would hurt any program and it has greatly hurt Miami this season.
15. Boston College (14-15)
Boston College had big expectations entering the season but they struggled against a difficult non conference schedule.Other than Olivier Hanlan and Ryan Anderson, the rest of BC’s players have underachieved and made it hard to win games. I believe BC will finish out of the basement of the ACC but this will be a disappointing season for them regardless.