Looking at ACC Men's Basketball - Dec. 2022

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Since we are entering ACC season, I took a look around the rest of the league on KenPom's site to see how things are going. In general, the ACC has not looked amazing. Currently, KenPom has the ACC as the 6th best conference in the nation just behind the Pac 12 and ahead of the Mountain West. Here is a quick peek at each team based on some KenPom stats and if I have any "eye test" things to add. The order is by where they currently stand in the KenPom rankings.

Virginia (6-0)

KP ranking: 6th

Record vs top 100: 3-0

Best wins: 16 Baylor, 17 Illinois (the two best wins the ACC has so far this season)

Worst loss: None

Virginia’s tempo is as slow as ever (#361 out 363 teams). Their defense is still really good (17th in defensive efficiency), and apparently their offense is really, really good (3rd in offensive efficiency). That’s a scary combo. Nothing really jumped off the screen about them when I watched some of the 2nd half of their win against Michigan. But that has been the story of Tony Bennett basketball. They are the goofy white guy that you assume is a walk-on during warm-ups but then drops 34 on you during the game and you keep asking, "Why can’t we stop this guy???" Virginia currently looks like the best team in the ACC.

Duke (7-2)

KP ranking: 18th

Record vs top 100: 2-2

Best wins: 31 Xavier, 22 Ohio St.

Worst loss: 12 Kansas (although losing by 19 to #7 Purdue was ugly)

I’m not sure what to make of Duke yet, but that seems to be the theme of these Duke teams since they started loading up on elite freshmen talent every year. Sometimes they take a few weeks to really gel. So far this year, they seem good, but not elite. In the little I’ve watched Duke, freshman Kyle Filipowski was really impressive. He’s 7-foot but has a stretch-4 type skillset. He is currently 8th in KenPom’s national Player of the Year standings. Duke is a top 3 team in the ACC.

unc-ch (5-3)

KP ranking: 23rd

Record vs top 100: 1-3

Best win: 80 James Madison

Worst loss: 47 Iowa St.

They brought almost everyone back from a Final Four run and were expected to be the #1 team in the nation. Instead, they are looking like a similar team to what they were last year before the tournament run – great players who are less than the sum of their parts as a team. The general analysis I’ve seen on Twitter is that this team doesn’t look like it likes playing together. 5 total team assists in their loss to Indiana is the type of stat to back that up. After 3 losses in a row, it is hard to project if this team will get it together and challenge for the top of the ACC or if they’ll muddle along and end up outside the top 4.

Virginia Tech (7-1)

KP ranking: 38th

Record vs top 100: 1-0

Best win: 35 Penn St.

Worst loss: @ 115 Charleston

I haven’t seen VT play yet and it is hard to read much into their schedule. They beat the only top 100 team they played, but also lost to a Charleston team outside the top 100. But that loss was on the road and those small school road games are always traps. Mike Young is a good coach with a good team. VT should be in the hunt for a top 4 spot in the ACC.

Miami (7-1)

KP ranking: 43rd

Record vs top 100: 3-1

Best win: 40 Rutgers

Worst loss: 20 Maryland

I haven’t watched Miami play, but on paper they are looking pretty darn good. Another team that should challenge for a top 4 ACC spot.

NC State (7-1)

KP ranking: 49th

Record vs top 100: 2-1

Best win: 54 Dayton

Worst loss: 12 Kansas

I like this team a lot. It’s fun to watch – especially since they look like they are having fun together. It’s easy to think the Pack are better than their current ranking because they handled teams like Dayton and Butler with little problem and were right there with Kansas. This is another team with the potential to challenge for a top 4 spot in the ACC.

Clemson (6-2)

KP ranking: 61st

Record vs top 100: 1-1

Best win: 35 Penn St.

Worst loss: 164 South Carolina

I watched the end of regulation and 2 OTs of their win over Penn State. They look like the type of solid mid-conference team Brad Brownell typically has at Clemson. Their resume is hard to draw too many conclusions from because they are 1-2 versus the top 200 with a win #35 Penn St, a close loss to #21 Iowa, and a road loss to a rival. I’d say they look like a top half ACC team, but a tier below the top 4 challengers I’ve listed. That said, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a VT, Miami, or Pack take an ‘L’ in Littlejohn.

Notre Dame (6-1)

KP ranking: 64th

Record vs top 100: 1-0

Best win: 33 Michigan St.

Worst loss: 108 St. Bonaventure

Another team I haven’t seen play, but that 18-point win over Michigan St. is impressive. I’ll put them in that second tier with Clemson where I think they’ll be a top-half ACC team, but maybe not a top 4 team.

Wake Forest (7-1)

KP ranking: 68th

Record vs top 100: 1-0

Best win: 45 Wisconsin

Worst loss: 137 Loyola Marymount

I was very impressed with what I saw from Wake in their win at Wisconsin. Florida transfer Tyree Appleby put the Deacs on his back during crunch time and carried them to victory. I think Wake is better than their current ranking and could be a top 6 team in the league.

Syracuse (3-4)

KP ranking: 82nd

Record vs top 100: 1-2

Best win: 99 Richmond

Worst loss: 153 Bryant

Syracuse is on a 3-game losing streak and coming off getting smoked by 29 points at Illinois. But…you know Syracuse. They start the season slow, find their groove in January, finish the season in the middle of the ACC, and use an upset of two of the ACC big dogs to sneak their way into the NCAA tournament. I’ll stick with that prediction for now.

Pitt (5-3)

KP ranking: 92nd

Record vs top 100: 1-3

Best win: 74 Northwestern

Worst loss: 96 VCU

Pitt is certainly better than they’ve been in several years. They started out slowly at 1-3 including back-to-back blowout losses to West Virginia and Michigan. They seem to have figured things out now and are playing much better – including a blowout win at #74 Northwestern. This matchup with the Pack tonight is going to be interesting.

Georgia Tech (4-3)

KP ranking: 120th

Record vs top 100: 0-3

Best win: 231 Georgia St.

Worst loss: 51 Utah

Umm…Georgia Tech has beaten every bad team that they’ve played and lost to every good team they’ve played. I haven’t seen them play, but without further evidence I don’t see a reason to think they’ll compete for a top-half ACC spot this year.

Boston College (5-3)

KP ranking: 124th

Record vs top 100: 0-1

Best win: 114 Wyoming

Worst loss: 309 Maine

Good lord. This is the point where these ACC resumes are starting to look really, really bad. BC has lost to #309 Maine at home and lost BY 16 to #151 Tarleton St. (which is a school I did not know existed until this very moment). They are coming off a 21-point loss to Nebraska which is the only top 100 team they’ve faced. I haven’t seen them play, but I predict that maybe Boston College will not be very good.

Florida State (1-8)

KP ranking: 160th

Record vs top 100: 0-5

Best win: 184 Mercer

Worst loss: 145 Stetson

What the heck has happened in Tallahassee??? Florida State was predicted to finish 5th in the ACC this season so I don’t think anyone saw this collapse coming. I keep waiting for them to flip a switch and get their season going, but we may be entering territory where the team is lost mentally. On the positive side, they didn’t lose as bad to #7 Purdue as Duke did? I have not watched Florida State play, but it is hard for me to believe they aren't better than their current ranking. I’m not going to say they finish in the top half of the ACC, but they can’t be THAT bad can they?

Louisville (0-7)

KP ranking: 187th

Record vs top 100: 0-4

Best win: none

Worst loss: 240 Bellarmine (if you don’t count the 10-point exhibition loss to DII Lenoir-Rhyne)

There isn’t much to say. This team has reached historically bad levels when it comes to losses to start the season. They began the year 0-3 with back-to-back-to-back 1-point losses to 240 Bellarmine, 201 Wright St., and 212 App State. Since then, they’ve played four top 100 teams and the closest game in that span was a 19-point loss to Cincinnati. Right now, they look like a pretty solid pick to finish last in the league – although I predict that they will not go winless.

Here is my gut-feeling prediction at this very second for how the ACC will finish:

  1. Virginia
  2. Duke
  3. Virginia Tech
  4. NC State
  5. unc-ch
  6. Miami
  7. Wake
  8. Notre Dame
  9. Clemson
  10. Pitt
  11. Florida State
  12. Syracuse
  13. Georgia Tech
  14. Louisville
  15. Boston College