ACC Power Rankings: Duke and Everyone Else


Unless your school’s name begins with a D, ends with an E and has a U and  K in between, then it has been a rough start to the season. Overall, the ACC is just 57-27. Take away Duke’s 7-0 record and this league hasn’t even won two out of every three games.

How bad is the ACC? Against top-50 teams (according to Ken Pom), Duke is 3-0. The rest of the league is just 2-20. Ouch.

No. 1 DUKE
Are Nolan Smith and Kyrie Irving the best back court in college? Let’s go to the numbers. The pair are both averaging over 16 per game (tied for fourth in the ACC). They’re second and third in the conference in shooting percentage, behind only Jordan Williams, who shoots no further than three feet from the basket. Smith and Irving are also tied for first in the ACC in assists at 5.6 each. It’s hard to argue with those numbers.

The Terrapins allowed Penn State to take 21 more shots Wednesday night, but Maryland made nine more baskets. You can look at it and say, great defense. It takes some effort to hold a team to 20-percent from the field, including 3-27 from three. Of course The Nittany Lions got 21 more shots because they grabbed 16 offensive rebounds and forced 17 Maryland turnovers.

The Seminoles’ five wins have come against teams ranked #250, #311, #284, #237 and #262. Yet, when given a chance to take down teams that could put up a challenge, the Seminoles lost.

Florida State has dropped two straight (both against top-25 teams) and have failed to score 60 in either. The defense has never been a problem for Hamilton’s team. Lead by Chris Singleton, arguable the best defender in college basketball, the Noles are third in the nation in defensive efficiency. However, they’re only 126th in offensive efficiency and that number comes after facing those five awful teams.

The Tar Heels are struggling, Harrison Barnes looks frustrated and Roy Williams has already switched to dick-mode. It’s only a matter of time before he has fans ejected again.

There is plenty of blame to go around, but let’s focus on Larry Drew II. It may be time for the Drew point guard experiment to go the way of Greg Paulus. Currently the junior guard is awful. He’s scored under four per game. He’s shooting a pathetic 22-percent from the floor. He’s made only two three-point shots all season long. Yes, two…in seven games. That’s fine if you’re just pass happy, getting your teammates involved, but Drew is only averaging 3.4 assists per game. On the defensive end it’s not much better. He can’t defend the deep ball, he can’t keep opposing guards out of the lane and he’s stolen the ball away only four times. Four…in seven games.

Kendall Marshall may be green, but he certainly couldn’t do any worse than this. It’s time.

The Eagles do have that embarrassing loss against Yale (they seem to lose to an Ivy league team every year). but they have three (sort-of) quality wins against three top-100 teams, (#50) Texas A&M, (79) California and (62) Indiana.

Right now, they’re scoring just 70 per game (169th), but don’t be fooled by that number, they are 7th in the nation in offensive efficiency. Steve Donahue has his senior heavy squad playing smart basketball. Reggie Jackson has planted himself into the go-to role. He’s second in the ACC in scoring at 19 per game. Just as impressively, he has a 3:1 assist-to-turnover ratio. His 1.9 steals per game is third behind only Chris Singleton and Iman Shumpert.

The Tigers only have one quality win on their schedule so far (against 51st ranked Seton Hall in overtime). On the defensive end, the Tigers have done a fine job. They’re 27th in the nation in defensive efficiency, but they continue to struggle on of the offensive end. They’re averaging under 70 per game (10th in the ACC). While the Tigers are guard heavy, they’ve struggled to share the ball. They are averaging just 11 per game. That means less than have their made baskets were created through an assist.

This was suppose to be the breakout season for the Hokies, but it is quickly turning into a nightmare. So far, Virginia Tech’s two biggest stars, Malcolm Delaney and Dorenzo Hudson have come up small in their biggest games.

In their Wednesday night loss to Purdue, they combined to hit only 4-23 shots. In their three loses (all against top-50 teams), Delaney and Hudson have hit just 31-percent of their shots. They have only 16 assists to 23 turnovers.

No. 8 MIAMI (FL)
With so much attention focused on the ACC/Big 10 Challenge, Miami’s win sort of got overlooked. While beating Mississippi at home probably won’t be considered a great win, it certainly was a good win.

Most of the attention on the Hurricanes is focused on their guards, Durand Scott and Malcolm Grant. The pair are certainly living up to the hype. They’ve combined to score 27 per game, dishing out nearly nine assists per game, shooting over 40-percent from three. However, if Miami is going to go anywhere this season, it’s going to be because of Reggie Johnson inside. So far, so good. The big fella is averaging a double-double (12.7/10.4) per game. The biggest issue he was going to run into was foul trouble. So far he’s had four fouls in only two games, following out just once.

I suspected the Wolfpack would lose to Wisconsin. However, I didn’t foresee them losing by 39 freaking points. Obviously any team would struggle if they lost their best player for a number of games. In this case, NC State is without senior big man, Tracy Smith.

However, when someone like Smith goes out, another player needs to step up. The idea person is C.J. Leslie. The much-hyped freshman big man on most nights will be the most athletic player on the court. He was considered a one-and-done by many experts. However, with Tracy Smith out, Leslie seems to have gotten less aggressive.

Since Smith went out, Leslie has taken 10 shots only once and he hasn’t made more than three baskets in a game since opening night. In fact, in his last five, he’s shooting just 32-percent from the floor. For the season, he’s averaging just 4.5 rebounds per game.

Right now, Coach Sidney Lowe isn’t showing a lot of confidence in the kid, as he’s just averaging around 19 minutes per game.

If there was one team who needed a signature win, it was Virginia. What a confidence booster for a young team. They went into Minnesota, fell behind by a ton, yet rallied to win it quite easily at the end.

After the game, all the talk was on Virginia’s three-point bombardment. They finished the game 10-13 from downtown, which is more impressive since they were shooting below 40-percent prior to the game. However, I want to focus my conversation on Mike Scott.

Right now the senior forward is one of the top big men in the ACC. Over his last three games, he’s averaging 20 points and over 12 rebounds per game. If the voting started today, Scott probably has earned “All-ACC” first team.

Lost in all the hoopla of Kyrie Irving’s 31-point effort Wednesday night was the 32 points J.T. Terrell put up against Iowa. Sure the Hawkeyes aren’t the Spartans, but the Virginia guard was on fire. He hit 7-11 from three.

The freshman is fifth in the ACC in scoring (15.4 ppg). His 43-percent from three is 6th in the ACC. While Terrell prefers to shoot the three (57-percent of his shots are threes), he has a knack of getting to the line. He’s already taken 39 free throws, hitting a solid 80-percent of his freebies.

The Yellow Jackets are one of the worst shooting teams in the league. Their shooting percentage is 279th in the land. Glen Rice Jr. is the only Georgia Tech player hitting over 42-percent, although three-pointers are suppose to be his specialty, he’s hitting an awful 18-percent so far. As a team, they’re hitting just 26-percent of their threes.