Holding Court: ACC Basketball Rankings, Analysis, Postseason Outlook - Chapelboro.com (2023)

Holding Court: ACC Basketball Rankings, Analysis, Postseason Outlook - Chapelboro.com (1)

Holding Court with David Glenn is proudly presented by The Founders Group at Stifel

Revised 2023 ACC Basketball Snapshot: Rankings, Analysis, Postseason Outlook

By David Glenn

From 1991-2019, the Atlantic Coast Conference produced at least one #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament 26 times over 29 seasons. Each of the three exceptions (1996, 2003, 2013) saw the ACC produce two teams who became #2 or #3 seeds in those years.

With only a month or so remaining in the 2022-23 regular season, the ACC looks nothing like that stunning historical snapshot. This may be the third year in a row (after the COVID cancellation of the 2020 postseason) that the conference fails to produce a #1 seed.

Virginia, #6 in the Associated Press poll, has a chance. Surprising Clemson (#20) and offensively dynamic Miami (#24) also are ranked in the Top 25, but the Tigers may drop from the poll next week, and the Hurricanes would need a very strong finish to earn a top-three NCAA seed.

On the bright side, the ACC is positioned to earn more than the five NCAA bids (Duke, UNC, Miami, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech) it received last season. At least seven teams, maybe even nine, entered February with potentially realistic paths to at-large spots in the Big Dance.

Here are our revised ACC power rankings, from one through 15, with lots of detailed information on each team and the usual reminder: These are NOT predictions of future results/standings but rather a reflection of the teams’ “body of work” in games already played (through Tuesday).

The following matchups are on today’s schedule: Pitt at UNC (7 p.m., ACCN), Georgia Tech at Louisville (7 p.m., RSN) and Florida State at NC State (9 p.m., ACCN). There are seven more ACC games Saturday, highlighted by UVa at Virginia Tech (12 p.m., ESPN2), Miami at Clemson (3 p.m., ACCN) and the Tar Heels’ annual visit to Duke (6:30 p.m., ESPN).

  1. Virginia (17-3, 9-2 ACC)

Head Coach: Tony Bennett (53, 14th season, 8^ NCAA Tournaments)

Best Wins: 86-79 over Baylor (n), 70-61 over Illinois (n), 65-58 vs. UNC, 70-68 at Michigan, 76-67 at WF, 78-68 vs. VT

Losses: 69-61 vs. Houston, 66-64 at UM, 68-65 at Pitt

ELO/KenPom/NET/RPI Team Rankings (of 363): 9/13/14/13

Offensive/Defensive Efficiency Rankings (of 363): 21/23

Most Starts: PG Kihei Clark, G Reece Beekman, G Armaan Franklin, F Jayden Gardner, C Kadin Shedrick

Current Postseason Projection: NCAA Tournament (3 seed)

Virginia may not be the most talented team in the ACC. After all, its starting five — the only group in the entire league that returned intact from last season — was good enough for only the NIT a year ago. However, the Cavaliers understand and execute their offense and (as usual) their defense more consistently and effectively than any team in the conference, and it’s not even close. Experience and familiarity help; among 363 Division I teams, the Cavs rank fourth in experience and 13th in continuity. Their top six consists of three fifth-year players, two fourth-year guys and a three-year starter in star junior Reece Beekman. Two freshmen, sharpshooting guard Isaac McKneely and athletic forward Ryan Dunn, are coming along nicely, too.

  1. Miami (17-5, 8-4 ACC)

Head Coach: Jim Larranaga (73, 12th season, 5 NCAA Tournaments)

Best Wins: 66-64 vs. UVa, 68-61 vs. Rutgers, 74-64 over Providence (n), 66-64 at UCF, 80-73 vs. NCSU, 92-83 vs. VT

Losses: 88-70 to Maryland (n), 76-70 at GT, 83-81 (OT) at NCSU, 68-66 at Duke, 71-68 at Pitt

ELO/KenPom/NET/RPI Team Rankings (of 363): 35/36/39/24

Offensive/Defensive Efficiency Rankings (of 363): 11/117

Most Starts: G Isaiah Wong, G Nigel Pack, G Wooga Poplar, F Jordan Miller, C Norchad Omier

Current Postseason Projection: NCAA Tournament (6 seed)

Veteran coach Jim Larranaga, who led the Hurricanes to their first/only ACC title in 2013 and the best NCAA Tournament finish (Elite Eight) in program history in 2022, may be in the process of writing the quintessential 2023 college basketball success story. Thanks in large part to the Name-Image-Likeness revolution, which since last season has enabled college athletes to accept endorsement money and other compensation from third parties, star guard Isaiah Wong stayed at Miami for his senior season, and UM added two of the ACC’s highest-profile transfers: Kansas State guard Nigel Pack (1st-team All-Big 12; $800,000 NIL deal) and Arkansas State center Norchad Omier (Sun Belt player of the year). Wong and Omier are playing at an All-ACC level.

  1. North Carolina (15-6, 7-3 ACC)

Head Coach: Hubert Davis (52, 2nd season, 1 NCAA Tournament)

Best Wins: 89-84 (OT) over Ohio St. (n), 80-76 over Michigan (n), 72-68 at Syracuse, 80-69 vs. NCSU, 102-86 vs. Charleston, 88-79 vs. WF

Losses: 70-65 to Iowa St. (n), 103-101 (4OT) to Alabama (n), 77-65 at IU, 80-72 at VT, 76-74 at Pitt, 65-58 at UVa

ELO/KenPom/NET/RPI Team Rankings (of 363): 14/32/37/20

Offensive/Defensive Efficiency Rankings (of 363): 27/56

Most Starts: G RJ Davis, G Caleb Love, F Leaky Black, F Pete Nance, C Armando Bacot

Current Postseason Projection: NCAA Tournament (7 seed)

Much like a year ago, after another slow start that had many fans reaching for the panic button, UNC has saved its season. Senior center Armando Bacot is the frontrunner for the ACC player of the year honor that barely eluded him in 2022, and junior guard RJ Davis persevered through an ugly shooting slump to become another consistently reliable All-ACC player for the Tar Heels. Less predictable for Carolina are the performances of junior guard Caleb Love, the ACC’s ultimate X factor, and senior forward Pete Nance, along with the team’s volatile bench contributions. Those latter variables will be under the microscope as the Heels, 10-2 in their last 12 games, enter their most difficult and intense six-game stretch of the regular season: Pitt, at Duke, at Wake, Clemson, Miami and at NC State.

  1. Clemson (18-5, 10-2 ACC)

Head Coach: Brad Brownell (54, 13th season, 3 NCAA Tournaments)

Best Wins: 75-74 at Pitt, 68-65 at VT, 72-64 vs. Duke, 78-64 vs. NCSU, 51-50 vs. VT, 101-94 (2OT) vs. Penn St.

Losses: 60-58 at South Carolina, 74-71 to Iowa (n), 76-58 to Loyola-Chicago (n), 87-77 at WF, 62-54 at BC

ELO/KenPom/NET/RPI Team Rankings (of 363): 30/67/62/48

Offensive/Defensive Efficiency Rankings (of 363): 93/49

Most Starts: PG Chase Hunter, G Brevin Galloway, G Alex Hemenway, F Hunter Tyson, C PJ Hall

Current Postseason Projection: NCAA Tournament (8 seed)

While Brad Brownell remains the frontrunner for the ACC coach of the year honor, Clemson’s recent loss at lowly Boston College rang a couple of alarm bells, especially heading into matchups against high-scoring Miami and UNC. Among ACC teams, the Tigers have played the weakest nonconference schedule, and while their 10-2 mark still has them atop the league standings for now, their offensive efficiency has plummeted against the tougher competition, with much higher turnover numbers and much lower 3-point shooting accuracy. This is still a great story, led by much-improved senior forward Hunter Tyson and sparkplug center PJ Hall, but this team will need better guard play down the stretch for there to be a happy ending.

  1. North Carolina State (17-5, 7-4 ACC)

Head Coach: Kevin Keatts (50, 6th season, 1 NCAA Tournament)

Best Wins: 79-77 at WF, 73-69 at VT, 84-60 vs. Duke, 83-81 (OT) vs. UM, 76-64 over Dayton (n), 70-66 over Vanderbilt (n)

Losses: 80-74 to Kansas (n), 68-60 vs. Pitt, 80-73 at UM, 78-64 at CU, 80-69 at UNC

ELO/KenPom/NET/RPI Team Rankings (of 363): 34/53/40/34

Offensive/Defensive Efficiency Rankings (of 363): 47/60

Most Starts: G Terquavion Smith, G Jarkel Joiner, G Casey Morsell, F Jack Clark, C DJ Burns

Current Postseason Projection: NCAA Tournament (8 seed)

Coach Kevin Keatts earned only a single NCAA bid during his first five years in Raleigh, and that came in his first season. After the 11-21, last-place train wreck of 2021-22, the Wolfpack desperately needed an upgrade, and Keatts has achieved that. He finally has the up-tempo, three-guard lineup that served as the foundation of his success at UNC Wilmington. Likely first-round NBA pick Terquavion Smith, a sensational shooter, has improved his passing and defense. Jarkel Joiner, an Ole Miss transfer, is a rugged, immediate-impact All-ACC candidate. Casey Morsell, a UVa transfer prior to last season, is one of the league’s most improved players. With DJ Burns, a charismatic Winthrop transfer, delivering in the post, the Pack may finally be back.

  1. Duke (16-6, 7-4 ACC)

Head Coach: Jon Scheyer (35, 1st season, 0 NCAA Tournaments)

Best Wins: 71-64 over Xavier (n), 74-62 over Iowa (n), 81-72 vs. Ohio St., 68-66 vs. UM, 77-69 vs. Pitt, 75-73 vs. WF

Losses: 69-64 to Kansas (n), 75-56 to Purdue (n), 81-70 at WF, 84-60 at NCSU, 72-64 at CU, 78-75 at VT

ELO/KenPom/NET/RPI Team Rankings (of 363): 20/29/22/16

Offensive/Defensive Efficiency Rankings (of 363): 36/34

Most Starts: PG Jeremy Roach, G Tyrese Proctor, F Mark Mitchell, F Kyle Filipowski, C Dereck Lively II

Current Postseason Projection: NCAA Tournament (7 seed)

With a victory over UNC in Durham on Saturday, Duke could catapult all the way to #2 in these rankings; the ACC’s second tier, behind UVa, is that closely bunched. What makes the Blue Devils so difficult to gauge is their home/away differential. They’re a sparkling 11-0 at Cameron Indoor Stadium, with impressive wins over Ohio State, Miami, Pitt and Wake Forest. Away from home, though, they were embarrassed by Purdue on a neutral court and clearly intimidated at NC State, and they lost at Clemson, Virginia Tech and Wake, too. Among the Devils’ five highly touted freshmen, only forward Kyle Filipowski has lived up to the hype thus far, as a double-double machine and the likely ACC freshman of the year. The other rookies’ continued growth and poise, especially away from home, is the key to Duke’s season.

  1. Pittsburgh (15-7, 8-3 ACC)

Head Coach: Jeff Capel (47, 5th season, 0 NCAA Tournaments)

Best Wins: 68-65 vs. UVa, 76-74 vs. UNC, 87-58 at Northwestern, 68-60 at NCSU, 71-68 vs. UM, 84-82 at SU

Losses: 81-56 vs. WVU, 91-60 to Michigan (n), 71-67 to VCU (n), 75-74 at Vanderbilt, 75-74 vs. Clemson, 77-69 at Duke, 71-64 vs. FSU

ELO/KenPom/NET/RPI Team Rankings (of 363): 50/68/61/61

Offensive/Defensive Efficiency Rankings (of 363): 54/87

Most Starts: PG Nelly Cummings, G Jamarius Burton, G Greg Elliott, F Blake Hinson, C Federiko Federiko

Current Postseason Projection: NCAA bubble/NIT

Although his contract extends through 2026-27, after four straight losing campaigns to begin his Pitt tenure, coach Jeff Capel needed to climb the ACC ladder this season. Thanks to an unusual assortment of very experienced transfers and a team-first culture that was missing on some recent teams, the Panthers are taking those steps. Their top six players consist of five fifth-year collegians and a junior college transfer. Their two All-ACC candidates are a high-scoring, playmaking guard now competing for his third college (Jamarius Burton) and a crafty, high-scoring forward, also on his third college, who sat out the last two seasons entirely (Blake Hinson). Their other top scorers are 24-year-old grad transfers Nelly Cummings and Greg Elliott.

  1. Wake Forest (14-9, 6-6 ACC)

Head Coach: Steve Forbes (57, 3rd season, 0 NCAA Tournaments)

Best Wins: 78-75 at Wisconsin, 87-77 vs. CU, 81-70 vs. Duke, 77-75 vs. VT, 68-65 (OT) vs. Utah Valley, 81-71 vs. Georgia

Losses: 77-75 to LMU (n), 77-57 at CU, 72-70 to LSU (n), 81-57 at Rutgers, 88-79 at UNC, 76-67 vs. UVa, 81-79 at Pitt, 79-77 vs. NCSU, 75-73 at Duke

ELO/KenPom/NET/RPI Team Rankings (of 363): 77/73/73/62

Offensive/Defensive Efficiency Rankings (of 363): 29/163

Most Starts: PG Tyree Appleby, G Cameron Hildreth, G Damari Monsanto, F Andrew Carr, C Matthew Marsh

Current Postseason Projection: Probable NIT

When the Demon Deacons improved from 6-16 to 25-10 in coach Steve Forbes’ first two campaigns, it became clear that the program was oh-so-close to just its second NCAA Tournament bid since 2010. Alas, after losing superstars Alondes Williams and Jake LaRavia to the NBA, the Deacons have been unable to take that next step so far this season. Thanks largely to sensational point guard Tyree Appleby, a 24-year-old Florida transfer in his sixth year at the college level, Wake remains a dynamic team offensively. Cameron Hildreth attacks the basketball fearlessly, and Damari Monsanto is a silky-smooth shooter from long range. Defensively, though, the Deacs have been vulnerable both at the rim and the 3-point stripe.

  1. Virginia Tech (13-9, 3-8 ACC)

Head Coach: Mike Young (59, 4th season, 2 NCAA Tournaments)

Best Wins: 70-65 over Oklahoma St. (n), 61-59 over Penn St. (n), 80-72 vs. UNC, 78-75 vs. Duke, 77-49 vs. Dayton, 85-70 vs. SU

Losses: 77-75 at Charleston, 70-65 (OT) at BC, 77-75 at WF, 68-65 vs. CU, 73-69 vs. NCSU, 82-72 at SU, 78-68 at UVa, 51-50 at CU, 92-83 at UM

ELO/KenPom/NET/RPI Team Rankings (of 363): 85/55/55/47

Offensive/Defensive Efficiency Rankings (of 363): 38/75

Most Starts: PG Sean Pedulla, G Hunter Cattoor, G Darius Maddox, F Justyn Mutts, C Grant Basile

Current Postseason Projection: Probable NIT

At midseason a year ago, Tech was struggling along at 10-10 and 2-7 in conference play. In an amazing reversal, the Hokies won 13 of their next 15 games, including four straight in Brooklyn to capture their first ACC title and clinch the league’s automatic NCAA bid. They appear to have enough talent to make things interesting again this year — their starting five, when healthy, can compete with anyone — but they may be running out of time. Tech’s crushing seven-game losing streak from Dec. 21-Jan. 21 included the four games Hunter Cattoor missed with an elbow injury, and talented freshman guard Rodney Rice has missed almost the entire season after ankle surgery. Tech just doesn’t have enough depth to overcome such complications.

  1. Syracuse (13-10, 6-6 ACC)

Head Coach: Jim Boeheim (78, 47th season, 35 NCAA Tournaments)

ELO/KenPom/NET/RPI Team Rankings (of 363): 104/86/100/116

Offensive/Defensive Efficiency Rankings (of 363): 65/124

Most Starts: PG Judah Mintz, G Joe Girard, F Chris Bell, F Benny Williams, C Jesse Edwards

Current Postseason Projection: Possible NIT

Despite a second straight middling season under legendary coach Jim Boeheim, it’s a wild time to be a Syracuse fan. This April will mark the 20th anniversary of the Orange’s only NCAA title, led by freshman sensation Carmelo Anthony. This year’s team, though likely NIT-bound, has the ACC’s second-best group of rookies, behind only Duke, including an All-Freshman team lock in Judah Mintz. Although retirement questions continue to swirl around Boeheim, at 78 the oldest coach in NCAA Division I men’s basketball history, recruiting has received an intriguing lift from an uncommon source: SU booster Adam Weitsman, a convicted felon turned billionaire upstate New York entrepreneur who is showering elite Orange targets with large NIL offers. Buckle up!

  1. Boston College (11-12, 5-7 ACC)

Head Coach: Earl Grant (46, 2nd year, 0 NCAA Tournaments)

ELO/KenPom/NET/RPI Team Rankings (of 363): 124/167/178/164

Offensive/Defensive Efficiency Rankings (of 363): 257/102

Most Starts: PG Jaeden Zackery, G Makai Ashton-Langford, G DeMarr Langford, F Prince Aligbe, F TJ Bickerstaff

Current Postseason Projection: Possible NIT

The Eagles’ ongoing NCAA Tournament drought, which will extend to 14 years in March, is by far the ACC’s longest. (Pitt is second, at six years.) Since the 2010 dismissal of coach Al Skinner and the 2012 retirement of athletic director Gene DeFilippo, BC is on its third coach and fourth AD. That instability serves as the backdrop for second-year coach Earl Grant, who took College of Charleston to only one Big Dance in his seven years there. Grant had an understandably difficult BC debut last season, but his bottom-tier finish this time, with four returning starters and lots of experience on hand, is harder to explain. Offensively, beyond superb senior center Quinten Post (back from injury), the Eagles have been a poor-passing, frigid-shooting mess.

  1. Florida State (7-15, 5-6 ACC)

Head Coach: Leonard Hamilton (74, 21st year, 8^ NCAA Tournaments)

ELO/KenPom/NET/RPI Team Rankings (of 363): 140/160/200/197

Offensive/Defensive Efficiency Rankings (of 363): 130/201

Most Starts: G Caleb Mills, G Darin Green Jr., G Jalen Warley, F Matthew Cleveland, C Naheem McLeod

Current Postseason Projection: None

Leonard Hamilton, a three-time ACC coach of the year and FSU’s all-time wins leader, had losing records in two of his first three seasons (2003 and 2005) in Tallahassee, but he hasn’t had one since. With that 17-year over-.500 streak about to end, just one year after a disappointing 17-14 campaign, there are inevitable retirement questions surrounding Hamilton, who will turn 75 in August and thus ranks among the oldest head coaches in Division I men’s basketball history. Although their legendary depth, length and athleticism often have enabled the Seminoles to have the #1 defense in the ACC and sometimes even nationally, this year’s team has much less of those elements and has been punished from 3-point land and on the defensive boards.

  1. Notre Dame (10-12, 2-9 ACC)

Head Coach: Mike Brey (63, 23rd season, 13 NCAA Tournaments)

ELO/KenPom/NET/RPI Team Rankings (of 363): 179/157/186/226

Offensive/Defensive Efficiency Rankings (of 363): 67/285

Most Starts: G Trey Wertz, G JJ Starling, G Cormac Ryan, F Dane Goodwin, F Nate Laszewski

Current Postseason Projection: None

This is a fascinating but highly uncertain time in South Bend. On Jan. 19, 23rd-year Fighting Irish coach Mike Brey announced he will step down after this season. His bosses, university president Rev. John Jenkins and athletic director Jack Swarbrick, are expected to depart in 2025. Five of the team’s top six players are seniors, two top signees bailed after Brey’s decision, and the admissions department (while OK with grad transfers) has remained stingy about most underclassmen, even in the portal era. A consistent success story in the Big East (13 seasons, 9 NCAA Tournaments, 4 NITs), Brey’s program became much more volatile in the ACC, with a league title and two Elite Eight trips but also (soon) three losing records in the last five seasons.

  1. Georgia Tech (8-13, 1-10 ACC)

Head Coach: Josh Pastner (45, 7th season, 1 NCAA Tournament)

ELO/KenPom/NET/RPI Team Rankings (of 363): 221/198/218/178

Offensive/Defensive Efficiency Rankings (of 363): 241/155

Most Starts: PG Deivon Smith, G Deebo Coleman, G Miles Kelly, F Jalon Moore, C Rodney Howard

Current Postseason Projection: None

This has become familiar territory for Tech, which made only one NCAA Tournament (as ACC champions in the pandemic-plagued 2020-21 season) in coach Josh Pastner’s first six seasons. The Yellow Jackets simply don’t have enough offensive firepower to be a true threat in most games, with only guard Miles Kelly (13 ppg) scoring in double figures. Entering its Wednesday matchup at cellar-dwelling Louisville, Tech had lost seven straight games and nine of its last 10, and seven of those defeats were by double digits. After the Jackets’ ACC title, then-athletic director Todd Stansbury (fired last fall) gave Pastner a contract extension worth about $2 million per year through 2025-26. New AD J Batt can’t possibly like what he’s seen thus far.

  1. Louisville (2-19, 0-10 ACC)

Head Coach: Kenny Payne (56, 1st season, 0 NCAA Tournaments)

ELO/KenPom/NET/RPI Team Rankings (of 363): 305/299/335/318

Offensive/Defensive Efficiency Rankings (of 363): 312/257

Most Starts: G El Ellis, G/F Mike James, F Jae’lyn Withers, F Brandon Huntley-Hatfield, C Sydney Curry

Current Postseason Projection: None

The last time Louisville won fewer than 10 games, during the 1941-42 season (7-10), the university declined to field a team the following season. The cause was World War II, not the Cardinals’ poor play, and the school wasn’t even an NCAA member yet. Now, of course, Louisville is a three-time NCAA champion (1980, 1986, 2013*), and the program’s expectations reflect that reality. First-time head coach Kenny Payne, a freshman on the Cards’ 1986 title team, has five seasons left on a $3.35 million per year contract. While it’s true that some of the ACC’s most successful coaches (e.g., Mike Krzyzewski, Dean Smith) had rough starts to their tenures, it’s also true that they avoided ranking among the worst teams in league history.

^ – also would have coached in 2020 NCAA Tournament (cancelled/COVID)

NOTE: (n) = neutral court; vs. = home game; efficiency rankings from KenPom.com.

(featured image via Todd Melet)

Holding Court: ACC Basketball Rankings, Analysis, Postseason Outlook - Chapelboro.com (2)David Glenn (DavidGlennShow.com,@DavidGlennShow) is an award-winning author, broadcaster, editor, entrepreneur, publisher, speaker, writer and university lecturer (now at UNC Wilmington) who has covered sports in North Carolina since 1987.

The founding editor and long-time owner of the ACC Sports Journal and ACCSports.com, he also has contributed to the Durham Herald-Sun, ESPN Radio, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Raycom Sports, SiriusXM and most recently The Athletic. From 1999-2020, he also hosted the David Glenn Show, which became the largest sports radio program in the history of the Carolinas, syndicated in more than 300 North Carolina cities and towns, plus parts of South Carolina and Virginia.

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