-By Mychal Hunter
Thanksgiving is not my favorite holiday, I must admit. I find myself sweating for no reason for about five days afterwards. Whether or not that is a direct correlation to typically having about five days of turkey, gravy, stuffing and potatoes leftover has yet to be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt.
That said, the premise is one I can admire. A day to recognize the things in our lives that make us happy. The things I am thankful for are pretty simple.
- My family, I am fortunate enough to be 34 and still have a lot of family around me, many friends are less fortunate. Grandparents, both parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings and one very special nephew.
- My job. I bitch constantly about construction, it’s a thankless career that provides a constant amount of stress and foolishness. But, it also pays for this house and basically anything I want, I have, or could have if I had just a little less willpower.
- College Basketball. Some people boot H, some work on cars, some volunteer their time and 535 special people seem to get a huge kick out of running our country into the ground. Me? I love college basketball.
So I wanted to put out an (early) ACC Power Rankings list, mostly because I just got home from my parents and I am a bit bored.
- Duke (6-0): Doesn’t really need an explanation does it? They beat the #2 team in the country after losing the 2018 #1 draft pick in the first ten minutes. They have played some cupcakes since, but they did trail Portland State for a bit. Some might be concerned. I am not. This team is still at the very least a final four team.
- Virginia (5-0): Yeah, the Cavaliers are AWESOME. Bennett had the balls to take them to Richmond and they won. He hosted a 25 win team from a year ago to open the season, and they won. He takes them to New York to play in the NIT, and they beat a Vanderbilt team, that took USC to the wire, by 26. They actually currently rank above Duke in Kenpom as well, albeit only by one spot. This team is only going to get better as Jay Huff comes alive to join Guy, Hunter, Jerome and Wilkins.
- Miami (4-0): So far they have withstood a slow start by Bruce Brown and Lonnie Walker to remain undefeated. Once everyone gets rolling this team is going to be extremely difficult to stop. Dewan Huell and Vasilijevic have picked up the slack against the easy part of the schedule, but the stars need to figure it out before the ACC/Big Ten challenge matchup with Minnesota or the Canes might take a sizable whooping on the 29th.
- Notre Dame (6-0): I almost put them above Miami. In all honesty I probably should have. But, there is something about this team that bothers me a bit. DJ Harvey is playing well, but it still feels like if any one of Bonzie, Farrell or Gibbs are off the court they seem to bog down. I am sure Brey will solidify the rotation at some point and Harvey will become that reliable fourth option.
- Virginia Tech (4-1): How about these fucking guys huh? I don’t really care who you are playing, averaging 104 points per game through five games is impressive. Five guys averaging double figures is impressive. Shooing 51% as a team through five games is impressive. They are going to whoop the fuck out of the Hawkeyes in the ACC/B10 challenge. That defense (94th in KenPom) might be a concern when they head to Oxford on 12/2 though.
- UNC (4-0): They have been impressive playing through injuries so far, losing Berry for a game and now Cam Johnson is out. Kenny Williams stepped up in a big way as the Heels went to Palo Alto and boat raced Stanford. That Northern Iowa win without Berry is looking like a good one right now as well.
- NC State (5-1): This one is probably going to cause some hate and discontent. I’m sure if you live in Tallahassee, NY or Kentucky, you’re thinking I am out of my mind. Nah, they just beat Arizona. Which would have looked a whole lot better if they hadn’t lost the following night to Northern Iowa, but that was almost expected. It also would have helped if Arizona hadn’t dropped another their next game to SMU the following night but, hey, whatever. The Pack are playing at a fast pace (57th in tempo) that Kevin Keatts is known for, and Al Freeman has been a surprisingly high volume scorer, getting 16 a game. Markell Johnson and Omar Yurtseven have also progressed quite well as sophomores.
- Louisville (3-0): They have not been impressive, but the talent is there and they finally blew one of their overmatched opponents out of the water on Tuesday, beating Southern Illinois by 42. Anyone remember when I said Jordan Nwora was going to be the freshman watch in this class? Well, I was wrong, but only by a little bit. Darius Perry has been really good for the Cardinals, but Nwora is still averaging double digits. Quentin Snider needs to get it together though or these guys are going to be in a lot of trouble.
- Florida State (4-0): I know Syracuse, I KNOW! You’re just not that good. The Seminoles have played well, especially a couple guys who I did not expect to be big contributors, Phil Cofer and Mfiondu Kabengele. I actually expected Cofer to move along this past offseason when Hamilton signed MJ Walker as a 14th player, but he has been an asset so far this season. as both a scorer and a rebounder. I didn’t know shit about Kabengele coming into the season, other than that he is some kind of kin to Dikembe Mutombo, but he has been in double digits in 3 out of 4 games and is always everyone on the floor. If its a big rebound, loose ball or some other need by the ‘Noles, he is going to make that play.
- Syracuse (5-0): Impressive win against Oakland (at home of course). Even more impressive win over Toledo without Battle. A back injury is the type of thing that can linger, hopefully it is nothing serious as Battle has been one of the most explosive players in the power 5 to star the season. He is also on my Fantrax team, which is of a greater concern of course. I don’t know if the duo of Howard and Brissett can keep up the pace from the Toledo game, but they are certainly going to have the opportunity. If Battle misses time, watch Marek Dolezaj, the kid can do it all. Geno Thorpe is starting to get healthy as well, logging 21 minutes on Wednesday, which is a big boost. I am not sold on the Orange yet, but if Battle is ok and these other guys continue to improve, the Orange could surprise some.
- Boston College (5-1): Sorry Clemson fans, the La Salle win is more impressive than the Ohio win and Texas Tech (how about those fucking guys?) is better loss than Temple. The Eagles are what we thought they were (RIP), they shoot a ton of threes and play almost no defense, but the addition of Hawkins makes this team look really quite good sometimes. They desperately need a point guard though. Ky Bowman is a shoot first, second, third, turn it over and then maybe set up a team mate for a bucket kind of player.
- Clemson (4-1): Brad, loosen the reigns man. You have some serious horses out there, let them run free. The offense sucks. Grantham, Devoe, Thomas, Reed and Mitchell can play! Donnal and Sims are nice role guys, Sims will be good as an upper classman by the way. I was impressed by him. But, damn, this whole four corners stall ball shit has got to go.
- Georgia Tech (2-1): This pains me man. These are my guys. But it is what it is. They haven’t been at full speed yet, though they get Jax back today against North Texas. Without JO and Jax they have not been able to score at all. Brandon Alston has done a very nice job so far, leading me to believe that my off season prediction that he will start and Jax will come off the bench will come to fruition. Especially after JO returns. Jose Alvarado has been the pit bull I anticipated, he is a great defender and great leader. The ACC will be tired of his ass in four years.
- Wake Forest (1-4): We all know Manning can recruit, but can he actually coach? He isn’t on the hot seat yet, but if he doesn’t right this ship expect him to shake up his staff in the off season. I doubt they will continue to be this bad though, that back court is tremendously talented. Someone is going to have to play defense eventually though.
- Pittsburgh (1-4): Tough sledding so far. I have beat this program to death, it’s almost not fun anymore. But remember this?