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ACC Basketball Power Rankings: 12/14/15

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Conference play is still a few weeks away. Which teams have gotten off to fast starts, and who has lots of work to do? Which teams might surprise you come the start of ACC games?

Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

There are still a few notable out of conference games on slate that could impact the standings, future seeds, conference confidence, and these rankings of course.

Duke Vs Utah (a team Miami beat easily) on 12/19 should be very interesting.

UVA takes on a top 10 Villanova team the same day, in a contest we can't wait to see.

UNC's weekend loss to Texas was not their last notable challenge,  They still have UCLA (also 12/19), a team that already has a win over Kentucky.

FSU at UF on 12/29 is also a fun one.  Miami was able to take down the Gators last week by 11.  How a young Noles squad does in Gainesville will tell us a lot about both teams, and also give UM a little more insight on how they might stack up with Florida State come 1/9.

Long story short, these rankings are certainly not static, even before the start of conference play we can learn so much more about these teams.

Nonetheless...

Here are my first in season ACC Power Rankings of 2015-16:

#1 Virginia Cavaliers - Besides the fact that they are the two time defending regular season champs, they get the nod as they have been fantastic since losing to GW way back on 11/16. They also made mince meat of a very good West Virginia squad in the second half of that contest this past weekend.  Malcolm Brogdon and Anthony Gill are both so steady and solid.  The Hoos are also looking a lot deeper with players like Davon Hall and Darius Thompson contributing more than expected. The Villanova game will be a real measuring stick for how good this team is.  I expect them to give the Cats all they can handle.

#2 Duke Blue Devils - Since losing to Kentucky, they too have been much improved.  Wins over Georgetown, VCU, and Indiana displayed this team's talent and an unexpected maturity at this stage of the season. Grayson Allen has been arguably the conference's best overall player, and Brandon Ingram it's best freshman.

#3 Miami Hurricanes - Sheldon McClellan is shooting a ridiculous 59/88/55 FG/FT/3P % over 9 games. McClellan and Tonye Jekiri (averaging just under a double/double) give the 'Canes two players that NBA Scouts need to watch. The improved shooting/play of Angel Rodriguez has been huge as well. UM already owns double digit wins over Butler, Utah, and Florida, and their lone loss to Northeastern was a game where they lost at the buzzer to a team that was exceptionally hot that day.

#4 North Carolina Tar Heels - The loss to Texas raised an eyebrow, but they still own the most impressive win on the season, taking down Maryland on 12/1.  Marcus Paige came back from injury on fire, Joel Berry II is much improved, and they can clearly score as a team any number of ways.  But the defense/rebounding will need to be better going forward if this team is to reach its' lofty goals.

#5 (tie) Louisville Cardinals/Pittsburgh Panthers - The Cards lone loss was to Michigan State, and Pitt's only blemish was Purdue,  Either or both of those teams could be in the Final 4.  But neither Rick Pitino's nor Jamie Dixon's teams have a win over a ranked opponent.  Louisville's all transfer back court of Damion Lee and Trey Lewis is the best such duo this side of McClellan/Rodriguez.  Meanwhile Michael Young and Jamel Artis have been sensational for the Panthers. Great start for both programs, but we still have a lot to learn about both.

#7 Florida State Seminoles -  Their loss to Hofstra can be explained by Brian Bernardi's insane 6-8 shooting from deep (many contested).  And a road OT loss to an Iowa squad that is very, very good at home is nothing to be ashamed of. Leonard Hamilton's team took care of VCU by double digits, and they pass the eye test on the talents of Xavier Rathan-Mayes, and freshmen sensations Dwayne Bacon and Malik Beasley.  By season's end they could end up much higher than this.

#8 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets -  We'll learn a lot more about GT when they too face VCU (12/15).  The Rams full court pressure will challenge Tech's Achilles heel (PG play).  Transfers Adam Smith and Nick Jacobs have made this team much more explosive though.  Wins over Tennessee, Arkansas, and Green Bay show this unit is much improved. The Villanova loss is no big deal, but East Tennessee State is the kind of team that need to beat in order to stay this high in the rankings.

#9 Notre Dame Fighting Irish - ND could very well climb these standings as the season progresses.  However, losses to Monmouth and Alabama showed that this team is a lot easier to slow down than last season's version. Demetrius Jackson is still a force, and Zach Auguste provides consistent inside scoring, so they shouldn't be dismissed as middle of the pack just yet.

#10 Wake Forest Deamon Deacons -  This team could go either direction. The UCLA win was impressive.  Nearly losing to Rutgers and falling to Richmond, not so much.  Devin Thomas has been lights out thus far.

#11 NC State Wolfpack -  The Pack have been very "meh"  to start the season. They beat LSU and freshman sensation Ben Simmons but the Tigers have really struggled at times. Losses to Arizona State and Michigan aren't too bad, but William and Mary to open the season hurt bad.  Anthony "Cat" Barber is awesome and fun to watch, but they need more from guys like Malik Abu and BeeJay Anya inside to climb the ladder.

#12 Syracuse Orange -  I had them much higher prior to a weekend defeat at the hands of a pedestrian St. John's team. Michael Gbinije has been nothing short of outstanding to start the season. And overall, the offense of the Orange has been a pleasant surprise. They still have lots of potential, but Malachi Richardson and some of the young players need to find consistency if they hope to contend in the ACC.

#13 Clemson Tigers - They have yet to put a notable win on the board.  They played Minnesota and Alabama tough though.  Jarron Blossomgame needs more help. If Jordan Roper can not knock down more jumpers, it could be a long season in Death Valley.

#14 Virginia Tech Hokies -  Buzz Williams has them playing better, but they have a long way yet to go.  Transfers Zach LeDay and Seth Allen give them much more punch.  Sophomore Jalen Hudson is off to a slow start though.

#15 Boston College Eagles - The 91-60 win over Maine last night ended a 5 game losing streak. This team just doesn't have the depth or athletes yet to compete in the ACC.