The weekend was full of overtimes, upsets, and buzzer-beaters in the ACC that shook up the middle of the conference, while the top four teams continue to distance themselves from the pack.
1) #1 Syracuse – 8-0 (21-0 overall)
Last Week: 67-57 win @ Wake, 91-89 win vs Duke
Next Week: Feb. 3 vs ND, Feb. 9 vs Clem
Two more games, two more wins for the Orange. They struggled a bit against Wake before giving the Deacons their first home loss of the season, and then edged Duke in their instant classic.
Forwards C.J. Fair and Jerami Grant are playing at a very high level and spearheading the Orange's run at the #1 national ranking, and freshman Tyler Ennis is controlling the team at the point.
Ennis is a very good player, but he's getting a little overhyped. He's great at managing the game and picking his spots, but he's not the kind of guy that can dominate an entire game. This team will go as far as Fair and Grant will take them.
The Orange are undefeated but are showing some cracks in their armor, but have two home games this week that should be fairly easy wins, keeping them atop the conference and the nation.
2) #20 Virginia – 8-1 (17-5 overall)
Last Week: 68-53 win @ ND, 48-45 win @ Pitt
Next Week: Feb. 5 vs BC, Feb. 8 @ GT
The Cavaliers just keep on winning.
Virginia took care of a struggling Notre Dame team before their showdown at Pitt, where sophomore Malcolm Brogdon hit the game-winning three with 0.4 seconds left to give them the narrow victory over the Panthers.
Head coach Tony Bennett's squad isn't flashy, but they play great, hard nosed defense and execute at a high level offensively to make up for their lack of a pure scorer.
They're now on a five game winning streak, but that could easily be nine in a row if it wasn't for some home bounces at Cameron Indoor. With a soft schedule in the foreseeable future, the Cavs might not lose again until they play Syracuse at home on March 1.
3) #25 Pittsburgh – 6-3 (18-4 overall)
Last Week: 80-65 loss vs Duke, 48-45 loss vs UVA
Next Week: Feb. 5 @ Miami, Feb. 8 vs VT
Pitt's a squad that seems soclose to breaking through and becoming one of the top teams in the conference, but they just keep falling short. Two losses last week means they'll drop out of the rankings - mostly because they haven't beat anyone good, largely due to their extremely soft non-conference schedule - but make no mistake: the Panthers are a good basketball team.
They're three conference losses are to the other top four teams in the ACC, a group that has really distanced themselves from everybody else. Luckily, Pitt only has one more game against those teams (Feb. 12 when Syracuse comes to town - the Orange won 56-51 in their previous meeting).
Given they take care of business - which Jamie Dixon teams almost always do - the Panthers will be sporting a really good record come March.
4) #11 Duke – 6-3 (17-5 overall)
Last Week: 80-65 win @ Pitt, 91-89 loss @ Cuse
Next Week: Feb. 4 vs Wake, Feb. 8 @ BC
Duke had arguably the toughest week of anyone in the country, and came out feeling really good about themselves. They took Syracuse down to the wire in the Carrier Dome and won handily against a very good Pitt team.
Sophomore Amile Jefferson really stepped his game up when Duke needed it this week, averaging 14 points and 8.5 rebounds in their two contests against big physical frontcourts. Jabari Parker continued struggling to shoot the ball, but he still rebounded the ball exceptionally well and contributed in other ways.
Even with the loss, Duke proved that they're playing as well as anyone in the country. The pollsters think so too, moving the Devils up six spots. They get a break in their schedule this week with two games against underwhelming opponents, and should easily rack up two more wins.
5) Clemson – 5-3 (14-6 overall)
Last Week: 53-49 win @ FSU
Next Week: Feb. 4 vs GT, Feb. 9 @ Cuse
Clemson got back on track this week with a hard-fought victory over Florida State, a confidence boost this team desperately needed after getting blown out by Pitt and UNC in their two previous games.
Even though the Seminoles are faltering of late, the win keeps the Tigers in good position for the rest of the season. They sit atop the crowded middle of the ACC, and their schedule gives them the opportunity to stay there as long as they keep beating the teams they're supposed to beat.
Clemson should get the easy victory over Georgia Tech on Tuesday, and although they'll probably lose to Syracuse over the weekend, their ability (or lack thereof) to compete with the Orange will tell us a lot about how good this team may or may not be.
6) Maryland – 5-4 (13-9 overall)
Last Week: 74-71 win vs Miami, 80-60 win @ VT
Next Week: Feb. 4 @ UNC, Feb. 8 vs FSU
Maryland finally did something they were supposed to! Given their inconsistent play throughout the year, it seemed as though they Terrapins would slip up against either Miami or Virginia Tech. Yet they took care of business against a fairly good Hurricane squad, and poured it on against the Hokies after struggling early.
The Terps look better than their record would suggest on paper, but their play on the court has raised questions about that. We'll find out just how good Mark Turgeon's squad is over the next two weeks, as three of their four games are on the road against good competition.
Both of Maryland's matchups this week look like toss-ups, but they have to find a way to win at least one to maintain good position in the ACC race.
7) North Carolina – 4-4 (14-7 overall)
Last Week: 78-65 win @ GT, 84-70 win vs NCSU
Next Week: Feb. 4 vs MD, Feb. 8 @ ND
UNC got back to winning last week and now have a three-game win streak, although they've all been against inferior competition talent-wise. Two more winnable games are on deck for the Tar Heels, and winning both could catapult them back into the ACC race.
Roy William's squad really struggles to score at times with no pure scorer on the roster, but they play outstanding defensive and rebound at a high level, ranking ninth in the country with over 41 boards per game.
However, the biggest change of late for Carolina has come from the increased level of intensity and focus they're playing with, which they'll have continue to do if they want to meet their preseason expectations.
8 ) NC State – 4-5 (14-8 overall)
Last Week: 74-70 win vs FSU, 84-70 loss @ UNC
Next Week: Feb. 8 @ Miami
The Wolfpack are one of the youngest teams in the conference, and as a result are about as inconsistent as Maryland. The good news is that the talent is there and when they play well, they can pull upsets like they did over Florida State.
However, State's struggles came back during their loss to UNC in a game that wasn't as close as the score indicated, but Desmond Lee came off the bench and provided an offensive spark with 18 points, which head coach Mark Gottfried hopes will continue to give them depth in their roster.
They have the week off before facing a desperate Miami team on Saturday, but if they win that game, the Wolfpack could be looking at themselves as a bubble team for the NCAA Tournament.
9) Wake Forest – 4-5 (14-8 overall)
Last Week: 67-57 loss vs Cuse, 79-70 loss vs GT
Next Week: Feb. 4 @ Duke
Wake Forest was the ACC dark horse at the start of last week with an undefeated home record, but two losses in Winston Salem have seemingly burst their bubble.
They played tough in a loss to Syracuse - no shame in that - but then allowed themselves to get handled in a loss to a lowly Georgia Tech team. The Deacons seemed poised to surprise the doubters this season, but they seem to be regressing back to the level we'd thought they'd be at.
A tough Tuesday matchup at Duke won't make things easier on the Deacons, but luckily they'll have the weekend off to try and regroup, hoping to recapture their mojo.
10) Florida State – 4-5 (13-8 overall)
Last Week: 74-70 loss @ NCSU, 53-49 loss vs Clem
Next Week: Feb. 5 vs VT, Feb. 8 @ MD
They were upset by the Wolfpack on the road in a game where they seemed to lack focus, and then lost at home to a Clemson team that they're on the same level with (if not superior) talent-wise.
The Seminoles have an easier stretch coming up with their toughest game the next two weeks being Saturday's matchup at Maryland, but FSU needs to start winning now if they want to preserve their tournament hopes.
11) Georgia Tech – 3-6 (12-10 overall)
Last Week: 78-65 loss vs UNC, 79-70 win @ Wake
Next Week: Feb. 4 @ Clem, Feb. 8 vs UVA
The Yellow Jackets have started to move upward in the ACC, winning two of their last four games (a major uptick by their standards), including one overtime loss.
Their win at Wake Forest was impressive as they were led by their stingy defense, holding the Deacons to 40% shooting from floor and only 20% from long range. Marcus Georges-Hunt led the charge offensively with a career-high 23 points, and Daniel Miller paced the Jackets with 14 rebounds.
While their season is not likely to end with any postseason play, Georgia Tech is still playing hard and can upset better teams if they don't bring it on a given night.
12) Notre Dame – 3-6 (12-10 overall)
Last Week: 68-53 loss vs UVA, 76-73 win vs BC
Next Week: Feb. 3 @ Cuse, Feb. 8 vs UNC
Notre Dame finally got back into the win column against a struggling Boston College team, but that might be the Irish's last win in a while. Eric Atkins hit the game-winning three with less than a second left to beat the Eagles in overtime - which is nice, but it's never a good sign when you beat a team with six wins by three in overtime.
They face a tough task this week in facing Syracuse on the road and hosting a hot North Carolina team, but at this point pretty much all of the Irish's hopes and aspirations have been dashed.
The good news is they play Boston College again in just two weeks! Always look for a silver lining, people.
13) Miami – 2-6 (11-10 overall)
Last Week: 74-71 loss @ MD, 64-49 win vs Norfolk St
Next Week: Feb. 5 vs Pitt, Feb. 8 vs. NCSU
Miami fought hard and almost beat Maryland in College Park before stepping out of conference play and grabbing a much needed win against Norfolk State. The victory snapped a three game losing streak, although two of those losses came against Duke and Syracuse.
They have two more home games this week, although they're both against better teams. Miami needs to win at least one of those games in the worst way which will likely come against NC State - if it happens. The Hurricanes have the potential to upset Pitt and if they manage to do that, they'll be right back in the thick of the middle of the conference race.
14) Boston College – 2-6 (6-15 overall)
Last Week: 76-52 win vs VT, 76-73 loss @ ND
Next Week: Feb. 5 @ UVA, Feb. 8 vs Duke
Boston College finally got another win last week! However, it was against Virginia Tech, whom they defeated earlier the season as well.
With the Hokies being the only team they've beaten in conference and won't play them again, the chances for another ACC victory look slim. And it's not going to come next week as the Eagles face two ranked teams.
If you're a BC fan and haven't already, it's time to start looking forward to next year. Or focusing on Andre William's draft stock.
15) Virginia Tech – 1-8 (8-13 overall)
Last Week: 76-52 loss @ BC, 80-60 vs MD
Next Week: Feb. 5 @ FSU, Feb. 8 @ Pitt
Plain and simple: the Hokies aren't good. Don't expect them to win anytime soon.