As the 2015-16 Basketball Season shakes out, one thing is more and more apparent each week.
There is(are) no dominant team(s).
Parity is alive and well, and that could mean an exceptionally exciting March Madness (not that they all aren't).
The ACC is arguably the best conference in the sport, and living proof that this season, it's anyone's ball game.
While UVA and UNC had monster wins yesterday, Duke may have taken a slight step back.
So how do things look heading into the holiday week?
Here are my second in season ACC Power Rankings of 2015-16:
#1 (1) Virginia Cavaliers - I was ridiculed by a few Duke fans last week on Social Media for having the Hoos ahead of the Devils in my first rankings. My response was that an impressive win by UVA Vs West Virginia, and he fact Tony Bennett's squad was on fire ever since losing to GW on 11/16 justified it. Yesterday, Virginia validated my faith by beating a very, very good Villanova squad in an uncharacteristic 86-75 shoot out. Whether its' PG London Perrantes, star Malcolm Brodgon, or role players like Devon Hall/Darius Thompson, no team knows its' roles better right now.
#2 (3) Miami Hurricanes - Utah, a team UM beat by 22 on a neutral court, beat Duke at MSG in OT. Butler, a team the 'Canes handled by 10, beat previously undefeated and Top 10 Purdue in Indianapolis. How good does that make the Hurricanes look? Well the wins were earlier in the season. And styles do sometimes make match-ups. But the 'Canes seem a bit underrated at this point and could/probably should be somewhere in the Top 10. Yesterday Ja'Quan Newton went for 20 off the bench as they took care of Charleston. This team legitimately has 9 guys who can score in double figures on any given game.
#3 (4) North Carolina Tar Heels - Nice bounce back win Vs UCLA after last weekend's tough loss to Texas. Brice Johnson was 11-12 from the floor in the win. That's efficient with a capital E. I still worry long term about this team's outside shooting, but they can score on the break and in the paint as good if not better than anyone else in the country. It'll be interesting to see if they can make the list below by season's end. My guess is no matter how well they do, they fall short.
#4 (5 tie)Louisville Cardinals - Cards fans were also a little peeved at me for having their team too low last week. But that's not why I moved them up a spot. Louisville just keeps on cruising to huge double digit wins. But they have yet to beat a ranked team. Nonetheless when you beat who is in front of you, this impressively/this consistently, it's eye catching. C Mangok Mathiang was hurt in yesterday's win over Western Kentucky and is out 6-8 weeks. Chianu Onuaku will have to play more minutes as a result. With or with out Mathiang, this is arguably the most intriguing team heading into conference play.
#5 (2) Duke Blue Devils - On the one hand, this team just doesn't have that dominant, superior Duke feel. On the other, last season's National Championship team did not either at this point last season and especially after back to back early ACC losses to NC State and Miami, and look how they turned out. They definitely could have used Amile Jefferson yesterday. After Jacob Poeltl burned them for 19, it's obvious where the Devils' weakness is right now, In fairness, Peltl is a pretty special player though.
#6 (5 tie) Pittsburgh Panthers - Jamel Artis and company just keep cruising along. They have no bad losses but no big wins either. We really won't know how good this team is for another few weeks or so, but 8-1 is 8-1. And Artis and Michael Young are a very good 1-2 punch. That much is certain.
#7 (7) Florida State - Sounds like FSU survived a weird one yesterday. I didn't catch the game, but I did see them overcome a slow start to dismantle Mississippi State earlier in the week. Xavier Rathan-Mayes is leading the ACC in assists, but it feels like he can go for 30 anytime he wants. Boris Bojanovsky is the X factor. When the 7'3 C plays well, they are really hard to stop.
#8 (11) NC State Wolfpack - They just barely got by High Point mid week, thanks to Cat Barber's heroics. Barber followed that up with 33 big points in a nice road win Vs Missouri yesterday. Their PG is the reason they are ranked this high, but they need more from their inside players if they want to stay here. Abdul Malik-Abu needs consistent touches.
#9 (10) Wake Forest Deamon Deacs - We'll find out a lot more about Danny Manning's squad this week when they face #10 Xavier. They have been very good this season in close games. Freshman Bryant Crawford looks like a revelation.
#10 (9) Notre Dame Fighting Irish - Really poor finish yesterday Vs Indiana cost them a shot at a "good" win. In good news, Bonzie Colson looks like a 6'7 poor man's Charles Barkley at times. Demetrius Jackson is still their best player, but his 4-17 Vs the Hoosiers was costly.
#11 (12) Syracuse Orange - The bounced back with a good win over Cornell. The St. John's loss still doesn't sit well though. I still feel like this team relies far too much on Trevor Cooney's inconsistent jumper.
#12 (8) Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets - They lost by 14 to a so so Georgia team yesterday, so they lose a few spots. PG play remains a major concern.
#13 (14) Virginia Tech Hokies - VT fans too thought I disrespected their team in last week's rankings. Perhaps, perhaps. I am interested to see how Seth Allen, Zach Leday, and Co do come ACC play.
#14 (13) Clemson Tigers - No shame in losing to a good South Carolina team this week. But in order to climb the standings in the Atlantic Coast Conference, you need some impressive wins.
#15 (15) Boston College Eagles - They beat Delaware behind 20 from leading scorer and Rutgers transfer Eli Carter. Still they remain the only team in the conference with a losing record (5-6).