Nos. 1 and 2 have been pretty easy in these power rankings the past few weeks, but what about 3, 4, 5, 6 ...? Glad ACC play opens this weekend to (maybe?) make things a little bit easier to sort out. Here are this week’s ratings, based on myriad factors, including how teams have performed lately and the foes they've faced:
1. Duke. Despite a push from Santa Clara, and an “off” (10-point, 6-turnover) night from Mason Plumlee against Davidson, the Blue Devils remain undefeated (13-0) with the nation’s best résumé entering Saturday’s league opener against Wake Forest.
2. NC State. Depth remains one of the Wolfpack’s biggest assets, as five players scored in double figures during their seventh straight win, against UNCG. State plays at Boston College and vs. Georgia Tech before its Jan. 12 showdown against Duke.
3. Maryland. Is anyone else really curious about this Terps team? Although Maryland has reeled off 12 straight since losing by three points against Kentucky, the Terps haven’t done it against big-name competition. They’ll face Erick Green and Virginia Tech on Saturday, followed by Michael Snaer and the Seminoles next week.
4. North Carolina. We finally saw all that potential everyone was talking about when the Tar Heels beat UNLV last Saturday. Now they need to show some defensive, intensive consistency. Their patience -- and offense -- will be tested at Virginia on Sunday, especially if they have to play a second straight game without starting wing Reggie Bullock (concussion).
5. Virginia. I got at least a few Cavs fans in a dither with my revised ACC predictions Thursday, when I picked their team to finish seventh (with the caveat that defense, and their league schedule, could lead to a much higher finish). Sunday’s game against UNC could tell us a lot about a team that has won at Wisconsin this season but also lost to Old Dominion. Point guard Jontel Evans (foot) remains questionable.
6. Miami. How will the Hurricanes fare without starting big man Reggie Johnson, who will miss much of the ACC season because of a broken thumb? That’s the biggest question for UM, which is now 2-2 (including a win over La Salle on Wednesday night) since Johnson was sidelined.
7. Georgia Tech. Make that six wins in a row for the Yellow Jackets, who got a double-double from freshman forward Robert Carter against Chattanooga. At 10-2, Tech is only one victory short of last year’s win total.
8. Florida State. The Seminoles lost a 12-point first-half lead, then the game, at Auburn, despite a double-double from Snaer. Not the way you want to finish the nonconference season -- especially when beginning ACC play with two games on the road (Clemson, then Maryland).
9. Clemson. Trivia question of these power rankings: The Tigers lead the ACC in which stat? Answer: blocks per game, at 5.2 (with K.J. McDaniels leading his team with 2.0 per game). They open ACC play this weekend against FSU.
10. Virginia Tech. The Hokies’ loss at BYU marked the first time this season Green hasn’t scored at least 20 points (he was 4-for-17 with 12 points). Losing four of six was not the way Tech wanted to enter ACC play, not after a 7-0 start. Doesn’t it seem like just yesterday that the Hokies were in the top tier of these rankings?
11. Boston College. Four of the foes in the Eagles’ current five-game winning streak had .500 or worse records, but it’s got to be nice for the BC youngsters to enter conference play on a winning note. Freshman guard Olivier Hanlan has averaged 13.8 ppg during that run, but this team’s confidence will surely be tested when the Wolfpack comes to town this weekend.
12. Wake Forest. Although Xavier erased an 11-point lead Wednesday, the Deacons rallied with a winning surge to post their best win of the season, in the Skip Prosser Classic. It marked Wake’s third straight victory, although the players won’t be able to enjoy it for long -- not with a trip to Duke on the horizon.