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Monday, December 19, 2011
Conference Power Rankings: ACC

By Robbi Pickeral

It was exam week(s) for most of the ACC, meaning sporadic games and not much movement in this week’s power rankings:

1. North Carolina: As ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi pointed out last week, Duke would get a higher seed in the NCAA tournament than the Tar Heels right now, thanks to its RPI and lone loss. I still think UNC, which beat road-toughened Long Beach State and Appalachian State since our last rankings, is still the better team. Let the debate continue.

2. Duke: It’s looking more like that loss at Ohio State was a blip. The Devils beat Washington in NYC on Dec. 10, and return to the court against UNC Greensboro tonight. It’s their only game until Dec. 30.

3. Virginia: After an almost-two-week break for exams, Virginia started a two-game road trip on Sunday with a game at Oregon, where the Cavs won 67-54. UVa has been getting it done with defense, limiting foes to an ACC-best 48.5 points a game.

4. Florida State: The Seminoles are 6-0 at home this season, and Michael Snaer remains the lone player averaging double-digit points.

5. NC State: This is a team that can get a late scare from NC Central before winning, then put a scare (or two) into top-ranked Syracuse before losing by double figures. If the Pack can put it all together, they will be a scarier and scarier foe to face.

6. Virginia Tech: Senior Dorenzo Hudson scored 15 points against Campbell after shooting only 28.5 percent his previous six games. Is his slump over?

7. Maryland: Help is coming for the Terps, who squeaked by Florida International last week. Point guard Pe’Shon Howard could be back for Friday’s game against Radford, while freshman center Alex Len is scheduled to return from an NCAA suspension Dec. 28.

8. Miami: It was an exciting game for those in attendance -- but it really took the Hurricanes double-overtime to beat Florida Atlantic? At least Reggie Johnson is back after offseason knee surgery.

9. Wake Forest: Wake beat Gardner-Webb on Sunday after a seven-day layoff. But the Deacons’ defense still must improve: They began the weekend allowing foes to make 45.2 percent of their shots (worst in the ACC) and to score 71.3 ppg (second-worst).

10. Georgia Tech: Tech is making only 28.2 percent of its 3-pointers, but coach Brian Gregory said his 6-4 team is slightly ahead of where he thought it would be in the rebuilding process, at least defensively.

11. Clemson: Coach Brad Brownell continues to tinker with lineups as his team prepares for ACC play, even bringing Milton Jennings off the bench last week. The Tigers face Alabama State tonight before heading to the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii.

12. Boston College: Freshman Lonnie Jackson on Sunday became the first BC player to hit seven 3-pointers in a game since Tyrese Rice. The Eagles are still parked at or near the bottom of the ACC basement in multiple statistical categories, but they have posted two straight double-digit victories.

Follow Robbi Pickeral on Twitter at @bylinerp.