Steve Moore is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic Coast Conference.
After weeks and weeks of mediocre matchups, we have FINALLY been rewarded with a big week of games to talk about. So let’s get right to it.
(Plus, my prognostication got off to a great start – just call me Joe Lunardi. Wait, I’m not that nerdy.)
ACC POWER RANKINGS (record as of Tuesday, Jan. 12)
1. Duke (13-2, 1-1)
PAST: The Blue Devils stay atop our rankings, despite the “upset” loss at Georgia Tech (if I see one more person call it an upset – I’m looking at you, ESPN, with your “Upset Alert” – I’m gonna scream). Duke lost to a very good team and in a very tough venue. They showed a few chinks in the armor – namely their lack of any sort of depth – but it was not enough to cost them the top spot here.
FUTURE: Two home games this week – Wednesday against Boston College and Saturday against Wake Forest. Guess which one will be the bigger test?
2. North Carolina (12-4, 1-0)
PAST: We didn’t really have time here last week to talk about the loss at Charleston. Is it one that would bother me if I were a UNC fan? Yes. Would I get hung up on it? Absolutely not. Any time a team like UNC takes a non-traditional road trip like that, the home team and its fans prepare for the biggest game ever on campus. With the players and fans amped up, it’s a tough test for even the best teams. As for Sunday’s win over Virginia Tech? It proved just how experienced and talented teams respond to tough losses.
FUTURE: The Heels face the toughest week of anyone in the league, traveling to Clemson on Wednesday and hosting Georgia Tech on Saturday. If UNC and Duke both go 2-0 this week, we might have a close race atop the rankings.
3. Georgia Tech (12-3, 1-1)
PAST: If the Yellow Jackets had not lost at Georgia, they might have leapt over UNC this week. But Saturday’s win over Duke was enough to make Tech fans forget about that in-state loss. Gani Lawal is emerging as an all-around force, not only scoring 21 points, but also dominating the vaunted Duke frontcourt in the second half, as Georgia Tech out-boarded the Devils 26-12.
FUTURE: After a semi-trap game Wednesday at Virginia, Tech heads to Chapel Hill Saturday for what is easily the ACC game of the week.
4. Wake Forest (11-3, 1-1)
PAST: This is where this gets interesting. I debated bumping Wake down after a one-point loss at Miami, but I’ve never been one to overreact too much to one game, and Wake’s three losses are Purdue, William & Mary and now Miami. They’re on shaky ground here, but I still have faith in the Deacons.
FUTURE: Wake hosts Maryland Tuesday and heads to Duke on Sunday.
5. Miami (15-1, 1-1)
PAST: The Miami win over Wake may not have cost the Deacons a spot, but it bumped the Hurricanes up a few places. Yes, their schedule still stinks, but the Hurricanes proved they can share the court with a real Division I team. Dwayne Collins led the way on Saturday, with 23 and 11, as Miami continued its best start in half a century. But as the schedule proves, that’s all relative.
FUTURE: The ’Canes travel through Virginia this week, facing Virginia Tech on Wednesday and Virginia on Saturday. Both will be tough games, but if Miami wants to be taken seriously in the ACC, they need to win both.
6. Clemson (13-3, 1-1)
PAST: The win over Boston College isn’t enough to bump Clemson up one spot – but everyone else at this mid-level faltered this week, so this was really a process of elimination.
FUTURE: Clemson hosts UNC Wednesday and heads to N.C. State on Saturday.
7. Virginia Tech (12-2, 0-1)
PAST: Yes, I know the Hokies didn’t post a win this week – losing their only game, at North Carolina. But compared to the rest of the middle-ground, I still find the most promise in Blacksburg. Last week, I said I wanted to see how the Hokies fared with a healthy Malcolm Delaney and Dorenzo Hudson in the lineup. The pair combined for 40 points, but the Hokies let things get away from them in the second half against UNC. Nothing to be ashamed about, especially in Chapel Hill.
FUTURE: The Hokies host Miami Wednesday and head to Florida State Saturday.
8. Florida State (13-3, 1-1)
PAST: In their only game this week, Florida State lost at Maryland. So far, it looks like the same old FSU team: one that struggles away from Tallahassee, and loses to mediocre/good teams.
FUTURE: The Seminoles host N.C. State Tuesday and Virginia Tech Saturday. At least they’re at home.
9. Virginia (9-4, 1-0)
PAST: The Cavaliers posted a very nice comeback win at N.C. State, thanks largely to 23 points from Sylven Landesberg. Virginia is tough to figure out so far, but we should learn more this week…
FUTURE: …with home games vs. Georgia Tech (Wednesday) and Miami (Saturday). A split would be really nice for the Cavaliers, methinks.
10. Maryland (10-4, 1-0)
PAST: A one-spot jump for Greivis Vasquez and Co. after a strong (how strong is to be debated) win over Florida State at home. Maryland nearly let a big lead slip away in that one, and won’t have much time to recover…
FUTURE: … before a Tuesday trip to Wake Forest. They also play at Boston College on Saturday. The Terps desperately need two wins to move up to where I think they belong in these rankings.
11. N.C. State (11-5, 0-2)
PAST: I really do feel for the Wolf Pack. They seem to have some talent, but they keep losing heartbreakers. Now, with a home loss to Virginia, you can add losses they really shouldn’t suffer at all.
FUTURE: The Pack heads to Florida State Tuesday and hosts Clemson Saturday.
12. Boston College (10-6, 1-1)
PAST: The Eagles were never really in it in a 16-point loss at Clemson.
FUTURE: Wednesday’s game at Duke could be ugly. Saturday’s home game against Maryland shouldn’t be close either, but moody Maryland might play down to its competition again.
WEEK THAT WAS…
GANI TIME, GANI-WHERE: Derrick Favors may have gotten all the preseason hype, but try to watch a Georgia Tech game and tell me that Gani Lawal isn’t the most impressive player on the floor. My DVR flamed out for most of the Duke-Georgia Tech game (blame the wife, I was away for the weekend), but I did catch the last 10 minutes or so. And Lawal seemed to have his way with the Duke frontcourt. Sure, Duke missed 22 of its 28 3-pointers, which didn’t help its cause, but with Lawal dominating like this and Favors growing up with each game, Georgia Tech can only get better.
HOW TO TREAT MIAMI?: The Hurricanes are an impressive 15-1, but nearly all of those 15 wins are against the hyphens and ampersands of the world (UNC-Wilmington, USC-Upstate, North Carolina A&T ). This week’s win over Wake Forest was a good place to start, and players like Dwayne Collins, Malcolm Grant and James Dews are talented enough to keep up in the ACC. But no one will believe in the Hurricanes unless they can win some tough ACC games – and do it on the road.
CRYSTAL BALL TIME…
I went 3-for-5 in my first week, including the Georgia Tech “upset.” From here on in, we’ll keep track of overall win/loss record. And if you want to join in, just add on your predictions to my five games of the week.
LAST WEEK’S CORRECT PICKS
DUKE AT GEORGIA TECH
My prediction: Georgia Tech by 2
Actual result: Georgia Tech by 4
FLORIDA STATE at MARYLAND
My prediction: Maryland by 5
Actual result: Maryland by 9
VIRGINIA TECH at NORTH CAROLINA
My prediction: North Carolina by 10
Actual result: North Carolina by 14
LAST WEEK’S INCORRECT PICKS
VIRGINIA at N.C. STATE
- My prediction: N.C. State by 4.
- Actual result: Virginia by 8
WAKE FOREST at MIAMI
My prediction: Wake Forest by 8
Actual result: Miami by 1
THIS WEEK’S PREDICTIONS
MARYLAND at WAKE FOREST (Tuesday, 8 p.m., RAYCOM). Wake Forest rebounds, and Maryland stays moody: Wake Forest by 9
MIAMI at VIRGINIA TECH (Wednesday, 7 p.m.). Miami realizes what it’s like to play a tough road game, and falls hard: Virginia Tech by 10
NORTH CAROLINA at CLEMSON (Wednesday, 9 p.m., ESPN). The toughest game to pick of the week. I see UNC eking one out on the road: UNC by 3
GEORGIA TECH at NORTH CAROLINA (Saturday, 2 p.m., ESPN). My upset of the week comes as the Heels come home from Clemson: Georgia Tech by 2
WAKE FOREST at DUKE (Sunday, 8 p.m., FSN). Duke finds its 3-point stroke, and its frontcourt scoring: Duke by 6