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Monday, January 2, 2012
Conference Power Rankings: ACC

By Robbi Pickeral

Would the fourth-best team in the league please raise your collective hand? Or at least, your level of play? One more attempt to rank the ACC squads before conference competition (finally) begins this week. As always, feel free to debate or weigh in:

1. North Carolina: Blowout wins against Elon and Monmouth certainly don't help UNC’s RPI. But then again, its ACC opener against Boston College next weekend probably won’t, either. Forward John Henson continues to average a double-double, plus a league-leading 3.2 blocks per game.

2. Duke: After a 40-point win over Western Michigan followed by a 30-point win over Penn, the Devils have one more road game, at Temple on Wednesday, to gear up for league play. Rookie Austin Rivers continues to lead the team -- and the ACC Rookie of the Year race -- with 15.4 ppg.

3. Virginia: The Cavs, who have won 10 straight, should get a good pre-conference test Monday night in Baton Rouge, where they will face an LSU team that has won seven straight by holding its competition to fewer than 60 points per game.

4. Virginia Tech: The Hokies have now beaten Oklahoma State twice this season, the second time snapping the Cowboys’ 37-game home winning streak against nonconference foes. Tech has won six in a row entering its ACC opener at Wake Forest on Saturday.

5. N.C. State: Scoring depth could be an issue come conference play, but the Wolfpack’s starting five sure knows how to keep things interesting. Lorenzo Brown leads the league in steals at 2.1 per game.

6. Florida State: For the second time this season, the Seminoles lost to an Ivy League school -- this time to Princeton in triple overtime. With six scholarship seniors on the team, FSU should be showing more motivation.

7. Miami: The Hurricanes haven’t lost since forward Reggie Johnson returned, and trail only Duke in the league in 3-pointers made per game (8.3). Malcolm Grant is the team’s leader (and the ACC co-leader) in that category with 2.8 made per game.

8. Maryland: Center Alex Len made an alley-oop dunk in the opening minute of his college debut against Albany -- a sign of good things to come for the Terps? He’s averaging 13.5 points and 7.5 rebounds after two games, and Maryland has won six straight.

9. Wake Forest: Led by C.J. Harris (18.7 ppg), the Deacs have already won nine games this season, one more than 2010-11. They’ve won three straight, but are still tied for last in the league in rebounding margin, at minus-5 per game.

10. Georgia Tech: The Jackets’ latest loss was at Fordham, which only managed one victory in the Atlantic 10 last season. One problem: Tech can’t seem to hold on to the ball, as its turnover margin is minus-3 per game.

11. Clemson: Forwards Milton Jennings and Devin Booker are combining to average only about three more points per game than last season. More was expected.

12. Boston College: The Eagles managed only three points (all on free throws) in the final 8:32 of their loss to Harvard, and the point-less stretches are becoming a theme for young BC. Boston College is averaging a league-worst 61 ppg.

Robbi Pickeral can be reached at bylinerp@gmail.com. Twitter: @bylinerp.