Miami (14-1, 0-1)
Pomeroy: 22 Sagarin: 28 RPI: 94
Predicted Record (Pomeroy): 22-8, 8-8
The only ACC team to make it through the non-conference season unscathed, they've left plenty of people wondering if they are this season's Clemson. They played the easiest schedule of anyone in the league, ranking 331st in the nation, but did pick up good wins against Minnesota and at South Carolina.
One of the better offensive teams in the league, the Hurricane's are the best shooting team inside the 3-point arc and also crash the board effectively. On defense, they defend the 3-pointer well and keep opponents from getting second chances.
North Carolina (11-4)
Pomeroy: 45 Sagarin: 29 RPI: 60
Predicted Record (Pomeroy): 18-13, 7-9
A talented team that hasn't been able to find any stability at point guard, the Tar Heels showed just how vulnerable they are at Charleston on Monday night. That gave them four out of conference losses but the first to a team outside top 25.
The team's biggest problem is turnovers – uncharacteristically they give up to many on offense and don't force enough on defense. That's the problem you run into when playing inexperienced guards. But their big men haven't lived up to their potential either, as the Heels are giving up far too many offensive rebounds for a team with their size.
North Carolina State (11-4, 0-1)
Pomeroy: 90 Sagarin: 84 RPI: 98
Predicted Record (Pomeroy): 16-15, 4-12
Every year under Sidney Lowe the Pack has struggled in the same two areas – rebounding and turnovers. Blame the personnel at his disposal, but until Lowe figures out how to get his team to rebound better and force more turnovers his team are going to continue finishing in the bottom half of the league.
When a team like UNCG scores 21 second-chance points in a half, that's a bad omen for conference play. We know Lowe wanted to try to get out and run, but his third-best rebounder is his point guard and the way they give up offensive boards this team needs all five guys collapsing to the ball.
The turnover problem for the Pack isn't so much how many they give up, but how they do it. More than half of the Pack's turnovers are steals, the worst kind of turnover because they often lead directly to easy baskets. And on defense they still don't force enough of them to balance out what they give up, an area they've gotten progressively worse in as the season has worn on.
Pomeroy: 69 Sagarin: 109 RPI: 177
Predicted Record (Pomeroy): 14-14, 6-10
A rarity in the league this year, the Cavaliers are a much better offensive team than a defensive one, though they aren't particularly stellar on either end of the court. They do this by almost never turning the ball over and by making sure Sylven Landesberg takes the majority of the shots.
But while Virginia might be one of the better offensive teams in the league, they are far and away the worst defensive team. The Cavaliers rebound well but allow too many easy baskets and don't force the opposition to cough up any turnovers. The Cavs are going to make some bad ACC offenses look a lot better for at least one game.
Virginia Tech (12-1)
Pomeroy: 43 Sagarin: 32 RPI: 63
Predicted Record (Pomeroy): 21-9, 8-8
Miami and the Hokies both have claims on the trophy for most inflated win-loss records coming into conference plays. Virginia Tech has played a horrendously easy schedule, which might be for the best since the Hokies have cost themselves NCAA Tournament invitations in past years with terrible out of conference performances.
Tech is the worst offense in the ACC, which is impressively inept considering the state of the league this season. Ultimately, this is a team that simply can't shoot – last in the league in field goal percentage and second to last in 3-point field goal percentage. But they don't let other teams shoot well either, especially inside the arc.
Wake Forest (11-2, 1-0)
Pomeroy: 37 Sagarin: 18 RPI: 25
Predicted Record (Pomeroy): 18-10, 8-8
The Deacons have somewhat quietly put together a great first two months of basketball, with only their only losses at home against William and Mary and on the road against an undefeated Purdue team. The team is leaning heavily on Al-Farouq Aminu, who is turnover prone but the team's best rebounder and scorer.
Like most of the ACC, this is a bad offensive team that's playing so well on defense that its still managing to win a lot of games. The Deacons are the hardest team in the nation to make a 3-pointer, and much like the Seminoles and Yellow Jackets do a great job of defending shots in general. Like seemingly everyone else in the league, the team has trouble holding onto the ball which complicates life when you're also a poor shooting team.