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Friday, December 7, 2012
Conference Power Rankings: ACC

By Robbi Pickeral

The Blue Devils continue to roll; the Hokies continue to rise. Here are this week’s ACC power rankings, based on myriad factors, including how teams have played lately and the foes they've faced:

1. Duke. After beating three top-5 teams in November, the question is: When will the second-ranked Blue Devils lose? They easily dispatched Delaware last weekend, and next up is a matchup with Temple in East Rutherford, N.J.

2. Virginia Tech. If the Hokies’ 6-0 start didn’t raise your eyebrows, then last weekend’s win over No. 15 Oklahoma State (to push their record to 7-0) should have. Senior Erick Green (24.9 points per game) continues to impress as Tech -- picked before the season to finish 10th in the league -- gets another test Saturday with a trip to West Virginia.

3. NC State. The No. 25 Wolfpack remain a work in progress, but they proved they are going in the right direction with their win over UConn in the Jimmy V Classic. Senior Richard Howell and freshman T.J. Warren -- two of the “other” guys often mentioned after C.J. Leslie, Lorenzo Brown, Scott Wood and Rodney Purvis -- lead the team in scoring with 14 ppg and 13.4 ppg, respectively.

4. Maryland. Coach Mark Turgeon inserted three new players into the starting lineup in a blowout win over Maryland-Eastern Shore -- just, he said, to give them the experience of starting. And he might do something similar this weekend against South Carolina State. This team seems to be having fun, and it has translated into seven straight wins.

5. Miami. The Hurricanes have won three straight since the return of guard Durand Scott, who had to sit out the first three games of the season. He’s averaging 15 ppg, second only to Shane Larkin (16.3). Miami doesn’t play again until Dec. 14.

6. North Carolina. The Tar Heels beat UAB last weekend without injured starting point guard Marcus Paige, but coach Roy Williams is looking for someone to step up at center (three players have started there) and for his team to get better on defense. Reserve Leslie McDonald is making 50 percent of his 3-pointers, which is a good sign for a team that needs to be accurate from long distance.

7. Virginia. It hasn’t always been pretty -- how about that 46-38 win over Tennessee? -- but the Cavaliers have reeled off six straight victories since their 1-2 start. Guard Jontel Evans’ surgically repaired right foot continues to be an issue, but Joe Harris leads the team with 16.1 ppg and forward Akil Mitchell has four double-doubles this season.

8. Clemson. The Tigers lost a starter when the school announced earlier this week that sophomore guard T.J. Sapp would transfer. But they’ll return another -- senior forward Milton Jennings, who missed the past two games because of a suspension -- in time for Saturday’s game against No. 8 Arizona. Clemson is ranked 12th nationally in scoring defense, holding opponents to 53.7 points per game.

9. Georgia Tech. By beating Georgia earlier this week, the Yellow Jackets have won back-to-back games in the in-state rivalry for the first time since winning three in a row from 1992 to 1994. Freshman Marcus Georges-Hunt leads Tech with 12 ppg.

10. Florida State. What’s worse: A five-point loss to a sub-.500 Mercer team or a 25-point loss to a top-10 Florida squad? The Seminoles, who have dropped three straight, have a lot to figure out.

11. Wake Forest. After back-to-back single-digit scoring games (in losses to Nebraska and at Richmond), senior C.J. Harris finally got back to double figures (10) in a win over High Point. Their poor rebounding margin (minus-1.4 per game, last in the league) hasn’t helped the Deacons, either.

12. Boston College. Ryan Anderson is seventh in the ACC in scoring (15.4 ppg), but the Eagles rank last in field goal percentage defense (45.4). Harvard shot 61.5 percent in the second half of BC’s latest loss. Harvard has won five straight in the series.