By Mychal Hunter
I thought I moved away from Maine? What the fuck is going on in the triangle? 9 god damn degrees when I let Tucker the Dog out this morning. That is no bueno mi amigos.
So what have we learned in the past two weeks? We learned that Duke and Virginia are probably the cream of the conference, the top tier of the league and after that it’s basically going to be an episode of Real Housewives of the Atlantic Coast Conference every night on ESPN: The Worldwide Leader in bad television and even worse radio.
It is quite obvious that I gave Virginia Tech the patented Peacone Kiss of Death by touting them so recklessly early on. I thought I was able to see all the good that was buried in their dominance of a poor schedule, when in reality it turned out it was just dominance of a poor schedule.
Georgia Tech has seemingly found their way back to doing what works, lure top 25 teams into Atlanta, give Josh Okogie the ball, get the fuck out of the way. Miami finally took their medicine on Wednesday night after flirting with disaster for much of the season, joining last years UNC, FSU and Notre Dame teams as top 15 teams to lose to Josh Pastner at McCamish.
Before I give too much away, here it is, my updated ACC Power Rankings:
- Duke 13-1 (1-1): Not much surprise here, they started here, they are more than likely to end here. They fell to BC in the conference opener, boat raced Evansville and then got a nice win over FSU at home. My only concern is the defense. They have the athleticism to be a much better defensive team, they just need the desire to lock people up.
- Virginia 13-1 (2-0): The Cavs weren’t particularly impressive on the offensive end in the first 10 minutes of the Virginia Tech game but quickly put that game out of reach and embarrassed the Hokies in Blacksburg. Ty Jerome is looking really confident giving Coach Bennett a legit triple threat on the offensive end with Guy, Hall and Jerome. Keep an eye on Mamadi Diakite who looked fantastic against Virginia Tech, if he continues to gather confidence and improve this team could be a major player in March.
- Clemson 13-1 (2-0): Yeah, come at me……..ugh…..bro! Tell me who is better? Louisville? They obviously didn’t learn much from Coach Pitino as they were unable to get up for the Kentucky game. Notre Dame? Without Colson? Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii *inhale* iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit. The Tigers have won 9 in a row with wins over: Florida, South Carolina, @Ohio State, UL-Lafayette, NC State and @ Boston College. No world beaters there but certainly opportunities for a let down. They have one of the most well rounded starting fives in the conference and Brad Brownell is gaining my respect, well maybe not respect, but I might be done shitting on him for a bit. He might gain a ton more in 15 days but I’ll talk more about that on Sunday’s podcast.
- Notre Dame 12-3 (2-0): I am not overly comfortable with this pick or this placement of the Irish, especially since I don’t know what is going on with Matt Farrell, for right now however, I can’t put an 0-2 VT team or a Miami team who has lost to New Mexico State and Georgia Tech in the last two weeks ahead of a 2-0 Irish team. I expect the Irish to fade a bit, especially if Farrell misses ANY time but DJ Harvey did play well in their first game without Colson. I expect this spot to be a little messy over the next few weeks.
- UNC 12-3 (1-1): The Tar Heels have not played well recently, they lost to a good FSU team the other night but I am not ready to rank FSU above them. They did not lose the game because of any one call but that pivotal over the back call on Theo Pinson was horse shit. Roy Williams also continues to resist the 4-out lineup even though it is clearly his best option for everything he wants to achieve with the exception of defensive rebounding. Granted, that is a major part of a philosophy that has won him a couple of titles.
- Miami 12-2 (1-1): The win against Pittsburgh doesn’t make my undercarriage tingle but that win against MTSU should not be overlooked. They should have beaten New Mexico State without a doubt but there is no shame in losing to the Aggies, just ask St. Marys, Illinois and Davidson. The Georgia Tech loss on the other hand is concerning, the ‘Canes did not look good. Bruce Brown and Lonnie Walker don’t seem to play well together and it doesn’t look like Larranaga wants to put his best point guard, Chris Lykes, on the floor with Walker, Brown and Newton. Larranaga is a good coach, he will get this together and Miami will be a force as the season progresses.
- Louisville 11-3 (1-0): Just so we are all clear, they are going to beat Clemson tomorrow. You heard it here first. I just moved Clemson up 7 spots and the Cardinals down 1 and I am going to pay for my blasphemy. That loss to Kentucky is haunting, Louisville has the bigs to hang with the Wildcats and while they don’t have the athleticism, they do have the shooting. That result was scary to me.
- FSU 12-2 (1-1): That was a nice win over the Tar Heels as the Seminoles continue to show that Tallahassee is one of the toughest places to play in the conference. The fact that Phil Cofer had a poor game and the ‘Noles still won also speaks volumes. CJ Walker finally seemed to snap out of it and Braian Angola was clutch from the line late. They did look a little bit like Bambi on the ice towards the end but they were able to hold on.
- Virginia Tech 11-4 (0-2): There is losing, then there is losing badly, then there is 15 levels of other adjectives and then there is what the Hokies have done to open the conference slate. Failing to clear 60 at the Carrier Dome on an off night from deep is one thing, losing to your instate rival, on your home floor, by 26, in a game you weren’t really in for the last 25 minutes is quite another. It feels wrong to drop VPI this far this fast but they look really bad. In their last 2 games Ahmed Hill and Justin Bibbs have combined to go 9-35 for 24 points in 132 minutes. That needs to (and will I think) change in a hurry. The Hokies have a get right game tomorrow against Pitt at home, expect a fucking bloodbath.
- Syracuse 12-3 (1-1): Why do you guys do this to me? I was in! You had me. Fucking Wake Forest. Are you kidding me? I’m all done here for now, your mother would be so disappointed.
- Georgia Tech 7-7 (1-1): BIAS ALERT!!!! I can justify it though, just let me ask you, who below the Jackets on this list is going to beat them more than twice in five tries? If you did not watch the Miami game, that is what you need to pay attention to. Josh Okogie is all the way back, scoring big buckets, making plays. Ben Lammers is back in practice for the first time in about a month and Jose Alvarado is a pain in the ass for other teams on the same level that Wojo was for Duke all those years ago. None of the following four teams are better than the Jackets. If Curt Gone Bad gets back on the court soon, this team could turn the corner.
- Boston College 10-5 (1-2): They are the one team in this bottom tier that when they are right, they can play with anyone in the country. Yeah, the country. The triple is the great equalizer and they have that kind of ability. The problem with this team, is they don’t really know how to win. They very easily could have beaten both Virginia and Clemson but ultimately came up just short. You have to feel bad for Jim Christian, imagine what this team would be capable of if Deontae Hawkins had not gotten hurt.
- Wake Forest 8-6 (1-1): The Syracuse win means nothing to me other the fact that this team is talented, which we already knew. They are going to go to Chestnut Hill tomorrow and lose because they don’t play defense and Jerome Robinson is playing out of his god damn mind right now. There is no way they shut down Tyus Battle and Robinson in consecutive games. On offense, Bryant Crawford is the only player giving the the Deacs anything consistent, as Chaundee Brown seems to have a hit a bit of a wall, attribute that to a teams getting some tape on him, he will turn it around, he is way too talented not to.
- NC State 10-5 (0-2): I can understand losing to Clemson in South Carolina, but losing to Notre Dame in their first game without Bonzie Colson by 30 after they also lost Matt Farrell? That’s just bad man. Clearly this team misses Markell Johnson on the defensive side and it appears that Al Freeman has regressed to the mean after looking like the alpha scorer on this team. Kevin Keatts seems to be pounding round pegs into square holes with his defensive scheme and it may be a year or two until you see his up tempo style take hold.
- Pittsburgh 8-7 (0-2): Sorry fellas, I tried to see a way to keep you out of the cellar but I just don’t see it. I can’t legitimately claim I would pick you to beat any of the three above you even at home, especially without Ryan Luther. I think you might have something in Stevenson, Carr and Parker but they aren’t there yet.
So there it is, a lot of movement in this version as the conference picture starts to come into focus early on.
Tune in to this weekends podcast for the stock watch, when I tell you who I am buying, selling and holding as well as some thoughts on a recent transfer and a huge recruiting battle coming to an end in a couple weeks.