Editor’s Note: This article was written by Chris Bengel, contributing writer of TerrapinStationMD.com and knowledgeable sports buff. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @DurtyPuckHead for gameday insight and great coverage of all things Terps.
1. Duke – The Blue Devils are the best team in the country and have the resume to prove it. Their schedule has calmed down as of late. They have wins against the likes of Cornell, Elon, and Santa Clara. Santa Clara gave Duke a first half scare but they were able to withstand the storm behind 31 points from senior guard Seth Curry.
2. NC State – The Wolfpack have rebounded from a flat start to the season. They have solid wins against Stanford and Connecticut and have now won seven consecutive games. NC State opens up with Boston College on the ACC schedule.
3. Maryland – The Terps have played well this season and have showed glimpses of just how good they can be. Mark Turgeon’s bunch has cruised into the conference schedule with a 12-1 record. Many national critics point to Maryland’s strengeth of schedule as a reason to question if the Terrapins are for real. We’ll find out on Saturday when Virginia Tech travels to College Park.
4. North Carolina – You could make the case that Miami could be a top-four ACC squad over a team like North Carolina. However despite some bad losses, the Tar Heels are playing much better. North Carolina upended Anthony Bennett and his very talented #20 UNLV squad last Saturday. The Tar Heels had five scorers in double figures and rank in the top-five nationally in points (4th), assists (1st), and rebounds (3rd).
5. Miami – The Hurricanes were looking like a dark horse contender in the ACC. However, they were delivered a punch in the gut when they learned that big man Reggie Johnson will miss six weeks with a broken thumb. Guard Durand Scott has also missed time. The Canes have lost their last two games albeit one was to #4 Arizona. The loss of Johnson could mean many more defeats depending on how Miami responds.
6. Virginia Tech – The Hokies started off the season strong very strong but have come back down to earth. James Johnson’s squad has lost three of their last four games as they head into conference play. Erick Green continues to score at will but the Virginia Tech defense is a cause for concern. It’ll be interesting to see how they perform throughout ACC play.
7. Georgia Tech - The Yellow Jackets stand at 10-2 and that may warrant them being a little higher in the rankings. However, they haven’t beaten anybody significant. Georgia Tech boasts wins like Tulane, Georgia, and Fordham. It’s not elite competition they’re facing but conference play will be an opportunity to find out if they are any good. They only have two players that average double figures in Marcus Georges-Hunt and Robert Carter.
8. Virginia – The Cavaliers have played pretty well so far this season. They have solid wins against North Texas, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. While these may be underachieving, they are still solid wins early in the season. Junior guard Joe Harris leads the way for the Cavaliers as he is averaging 15.0 ppg. Virginia opens up the ACC schedule against North Carolina.
9. Florida State - The Seminoles are a whole different team than they were a season ago. They lost six players from this year’s squad and have seven newcomers. Florida State has bad losses to teams like Mercer and Auburn that have them in an early hole as they currently stand at 8-5. Michael Snaer has played well thus far and has scored in double figures in all but one game.
10. Clemson – Despite only scoring 66.7 ppg this season, the Tigers have played pretty well. Their losses vary as they dropped an early-season decision to Gonzaga and got pounded by Coastal Carolina. Depending on how other teams fare, Clemson could sneak up into the middle of the pack.
11. Boston College – The Eagles are expected to be one of the bottom teams in the ACC. However, they are playing well right now as they’ve won their last five games including an upset of Providence. Ryan Anderson, Oliver Hanlan, and Joe Rahon led the way as all three players average double figures in points. Boston College could pull off an upset or two in ACC play but likely won’t be near the top of the standings when it’s all said and done.
12. Wake Forest – The Demon Deacons will likely be the worst team in the ACC but they did have a quality win against Xavier this past week. Early season losses to teams like Richmond, Iona, and Seton Hall have Wake Forest at 7-5 entering ACC play. The schedule didn’t do them any favors as they open against #1 Duke.