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Early conference check: NC State a top-6 ACC team

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The league probably isn’t going to challenge for double-figure tournament bids this season.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 04 Wisconsin at NC State Photo by Jaylynn Nash/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

We’re about a third of the way through the regular season, so we have a decent sense how the ACC’s teams stack up against each other. On the one hand, heavyweights like Duke, Louisville, and Virginia pretty much are who we thought they were. On the other, the league might not be as deep through the middle as it has been in the past.

ACC in the Pomeroy Ratings

Team 2020 KP Rank 2019 KP Rank Difference
Team 2020 KP Rank 2019 KP Rank Difference
Duke 2 4 2
Louisville 3 23 20
Virginia 10 1 -9
Florida State 15 14 -1
UNC 24 7 -17
NC State 38 41 3
Syracuse 51 39 -12
Notre Dame 63 97 34
Virginia Tech 65 13 -52
Pittsburgh 72 101 29
Miami 82 75 -7
Clemson 90 36 -54
Wake Forest 93 174 81
Georgia Tech 94 115 21
Boston College 126 127 1

Virginia is an interesting case this year because if anything its defense has been better than it was last season, while its offense has fallen off a cliff. The Cavaliers rank just 134th in offensive efficiency, ahead of only Georgia Tech and Boston College in the ACC. Still they’re projected to win 14 league games, doing so uglier than ever.

North Carolina would have to be an early-season disappointment, which, boy, that is a real bummer. I mean I am feeling a significant level of bummed-outness over here. Hold on a second because I think I’m getting emotional over this tragedy.

The Heels rank 305th in effective field goal percentage and definitely don’t run as deep as they have typically.

And they haven’t been dramatically better than NC State, which is one of the six league squads playing like a clear NCAA tournament team at this point. The Wolfpack’s offense ranks eighth nationally, which tops the league. I’d love to see the Pack play better at the defensive end, but no doubt the offense has been good enough to carry the team to the postseason.

In the middle, there are plenty of questions spread across Syracuse, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, and Virginia Tech. Probably at least one of the bunch will end up in the NCAAs, based on their current performance, but each one has significant flaws.

The Orange have four losses already—though none would qualify as a bad one—and have almost no bench. Virginia Tech got off to a scalding start to the season shooting the ball from three but as the Hokies have regressed over their last four games, they’ve dropped 36 spots in the Pomeroy Ratings. I don’t love their long-term prospects.

Notre Dame is an average three-point shooting team taking a whole bunch of perimeter shots and has been unremarkable at both ends of the floor. And Pitt may not have enough offense to get back into the NCAAs, but the Panthers are making progress.

Joining the bottom tier this season is Clemson, which lost four seniors off of its 2019 team. Have to wonder if Brad Brownell really starts to feel the heat if the Tigers finish under .500 overall, as they are projected to do.

If I had to guess, I’d bet on the ACC getting seven NCAA tournament teams in 2020. That ain’t bad, but it doesn’t meet the high standard the league sets for itself, either.