Here is our first edition of the ACC Power Rankings.
C.J. Fair is showing why he was the Preseason ACC Player of the Year, averaging 17.8 points and 5.3 rebounds while also being part of Syracuse's smothering zone defense. The Orange were impressive in winning the Maui Invitational and they have a dominant victory over Indiana in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. If the backcourt of Tyler Ennis and Trevor Cooney continues to play well, this is one of the best teams in the country.
Duke may have the most talented team in the conference, but the Blue Devils have yet to be able to put all that talent together through this point in the season. However, building a team around Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood is a great place to start. Once Duke can learn to effectively defend and rebound while also playing at a faster pace, this team will begin to reach its full potential.
3. North Carolina
North Carolina has been the most unpredictable team in college basketball this season. While the Tar Heels have terrible losses to Belmont and UAB, they also have arguably the two best nonconference wins in the country with a neutral-site victory over Louisville and a road win at Michigan State. Yet, it's hard to know which UNC team will show up on a given night. When it's the good Tar Heels, they've proven they're good enough to beat any team in college basketball.
Pittsburgh may not have a win over a Top 25 opponent, but the Panthers also don't have a loss to any opponent, which counts for a great deal considering the losses other ACC teams have this season. Lamar Patterson and Talib Zanna have provided great senior leadership for Jamie Dixon's team, and they carry the torch of the physical toughness that the Pitt program has been known for over the years.
5. Florida State
While Florida State may only have a 6-3 record, the Seminoles three losses were against three NCAA tournament teams from last year, including a one-point loss at Florida and a two-point loss to Michigan. They also have an impressive win over VCU, and Ian Miller is showing what he can do now that he's 100% healthy. Leonard Hamilton also has a huge (literally) potential x-factor in 7-footer Michael Ojo.
6. Wake Forest
Unlike in previous years under Jeff Bzdelik, Wake Forest has managed to make it through the first month of the season without a terrible loss. The Demon Deacons lost to Tennessee by 19, but they had a good showing in an 87-78 loss to Kansas in the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament. With Codi Miller-McIntyre having a breakout season to go along with Travis McKie and Devin Thomas, the season is off to a promising start for Wake Forest.
Clemson may have the most underrated player in the ACC in K.J. McDaniels. The 6'6", 200-pound forward is averaging 18.2 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per game, and his athleticism gives him the opportunity to end up on SportsCenter any time he touches the ball. The Tigers haven't exactly played a tough schedule, but they have managed to avoid any slip-ups against mediocre opponents.
While the Cavaliers should be much higher in the rankings, they simply haven't produced in the games where they had opportunities to step up. Virginia's struggles at the end of games, which were a serious issue last season, have come back to haunt them again this year in losses to VCU and Green Bay. UVA also needs the offense to become more efficient, another recurring problem for Tony Bennett's team.
9. Georgia Tech
Georgia Tech had a fantastic comeback win over Illinois in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge and is off to a 7-3 start, which is impressive considering the Yellow Jackets have received virtually no production from Chris Bolden. Bolden was one of the best freshman in the ACC last season, but he's only averaging 4.9 points this season while shooting 22%. Once Bolden can get his game turned around, Brian Gregory's team should be in very good shape.
10. N.C. State
As many expected in the preseason, the Wolfpack often find themselves too dependent on T.J. Warren. He's averaging 22.6 points and 7.1 rebounds while shooting over 54% from the field, but he needs help in order for N.C. State to be successful. Tyler Lewis has underperformed in the backcourt, and it will be interesting to see how this group performs as it gains experience.
While Maryland has one of the more imposing frontlines in the ACC, the lack of a point guard is still the biggest Achilles' heel for this club. The Terrapins have had chances to pick up quality wins against George Washington and UConn, but the lack of a playmaker and distributor has cost them down the stretch, and it's an issue that must be resolved moving forward.
12. Notre Dame
Notre Dame doesn't have one quality win and now has two bad home losses to Indiana State and North Dakota State. Jerian Grant has been great for the Fighting Irish, but Mike Brey has one of the worst rebounding teams in the country and they sorely miss Jack Cooley's presence in the paint. If Notre Dame doesn't get this turned around quickly, their NCAA Tournament hopes could be in serious jeopardy.
13. Virginia Tech
Although Virginia Tech got off to an abysmal start by losing its season opener to USC Upstate, the Hokies have rebounded nicely and are currently on a four-game winning streak. They actually sit atop the ACC standings as they're 1-0 in conference play, thanks to an overtime victory over Miami. Virginia Tech's time at the top of the ACC will likely be short lived.
The loss of so many talented players from last season's ACC Championship squad has had the effect many expected for Miami this season. The Hurricanes are only averaging 63.5 points per game and they've lost four of their last six games. It's going to be a long year for Jim Larranaga in Coral Gables.
15. Boston College
Boston College has to be in the discussion of most disappointing teams in the country. The Eagles had the returning ACC Freshman of the Year from last season in Olivier Hanlan, and one of the conference's most underrated forwards in Ryan Anderson. Instead of being a potential NCAA Tournament team, Boston College sits at 3-6, and could easily be 1-5 were it not for narrow victories over Florida Atlantic and Sacred Heart.
About David: David is a passionate Duke fan whose dreams of playing for Duke were cut short due to a lack of talent and conditioning. He also had a soft spot for fried chicken. Now, David covers the Blue Devils for Bleacher Report and Duke Report. And he still loves fried chicken.