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Friday, November 30, 2012
Conference Power Rankings: ACC

By Robbi Pickeral

With Duke’s schedule and Virginia Tech’s new coach, who would have guessed that the Blue Devils and Hokies would be the two remaining undefeated teams in the league right now? Here’s this season’s first set of ACC power rankings, based on a myriad of factors including how teams have played lately and the foes they've faced:

1. Duke. The Blue Devils aren’t just tops in the ACC; they have a strong argument for being No. 1 in the nation after knocking off three top-5 teams in November (plus VCU and Minnesota). Forward Mason Plumlee has played his way into the early conversations on national player of the year.

2. Maryland. The only blemish on the schedule for the Terps so far: a three-point loss to then-third-ranked Kentucky. Transfer Dez Wells (12.0 points per game) has been a boost, while sophomore big man Alex Len has been a beast (15.2 ppg, 9.0 rebounds per game).

3. Miami. Durand Scott is back, and the Hurricanes finally seem to be getting it back together. After sitting out three games (including a perplexing loss to Florida Gulf Coast) due to suspension, the guard returned for his second contest of the season to help the Canes upset No. 13 Michigan State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Shane Larkin is averaging 16.8 ppg.

4. NC State. The Wolfpack showed some life with their late rally at No. 3 Michigan earlier this week -- but they aren't exactly looking like the team everyone expected to win the league. Still, NC State gets a chance to prove that it’s learned something from that loss, as well as its blowout defeat to Oklahoma State in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, when it plays UConn on Dec. 4.

5. North Carolina. The Tar Heels have trailed by 20-plus points on two occasions already this season -- losses to Butler in the Maui Invitational and at top-ranked Indiana. Coach Roy Williams wants them to be tougher. They are a work in progress.

6. Virginia Tech. The Hokies get a huge test when 15th-ranked Oklahoma State travels to Cassell Coliseum this weekend. But right now, Erick Green (24.3 ppg) and Jarell Eddie (17.5 ppg) have them on a 6-0 roll under new coach James Johnson.

7. Virginia. The Cavs have won four straight, including an impressive victory at Wisconsin earlier this week, after starting the season 1-2. Joe Harris leads the team with 16.0 ppg, and guard Jontel Evans played 16 minutes against the Badgers in his return from a foot injury.

8. Florida State. Coach Leonard Hamilton expected more fire out of his team against No. 21 Minnesota. He didn’t get it during the loss, which was sort of surprising after the Seminoles won the Coaches Vs. Cancer tournament championship. FSU, which also lost to South Alabama in the season opener, needs to be more consistent in order to move up.

9. Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets have nine players contributing at least nine minutes per game as they stress a balanced rebuilding approach. Junior forward Kammeon Holsey is the leading scorer (11.2 ppg) on a 4-2 team that finished in third place at the DirecTV Classic before falling to No. 22 Illinois.

10. Clemson. It will be curious to see whether forward Milton Jennings, suspended for the third time in two seasons, gets another chance. If not, Clemson loses one of its leading scorers, and one of only two seniors on the team.

11. Wake Forest. Travis McKie is averaging 14.3 ppg for the Demon Deacons, but things don’t really seem to be getting much better in Winston-Salem. They are 3-3, with a 16-point loss to Nebraska in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

12. Boston College. The sophomores continue experiencing the ups and downs of rebuilding, with an early slate that includes a loss to Bryant followed by a win over Penn State. Ryan Anderson is averaging 14.2 ppg.