North Carolina Tar Heels: Wake Forest Demon Deacons

If you’ve noticed a sudden rush of recruiting information for 2016 prospects in the last few days, it's no coincidence.

Sunday was the first day that college coaches were permitted to contact prospects in the rising junior class, and for some prospects that literally meant the phone rang when the clock struck midnight.

Often times, those conversations are followed by some sort of offer. Here’s a look at some of the latest news for the Class of 2016:

Observations: UNC 105, Wake Forest 72

February, 22, 2014
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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- North Carolina’s loss that started a downward spiral now seems like it happened in a different season.

The Tar Heels were certainly a different team when they suffered a 73-67 loss at Wake Forest last month. That was the first of an 0-3 start to ACC play which had the Heels at their lowest point. They’ve risen quite a bit since then, avenging their previous defeat by obliterating the Demon Deacons, 105-72, on Saturday for their ninth straight win.

It’s the longest win streak since the 2011-12 squad also won nine. The 2008-09 national championship team was the last to win 10 consecutive.

After the loss at Wake, UNC coach Roy Williams pointed out the team didn’t pay enough attention to the scouting report. After his team's win Saturday, he praised their focus.

“Our kids have shown a greater attention to details,” Williams said. “They’ve shown a greater sense of urgency.”

The Heels’ loss at Wake was filled with botched defensive assignments and poor shooting. The Heels highlighted their win Saturday by shooting 57.4 percent from the field -- the highest for ACC play -- and holding Wake’s leading scorer Codi Miller-McIntyre scoreless for the first time all season.

More observations from Carolina’s victory:

• Senior Leslie McDonald followed his 21-point performance against Duke by scoring a team-high 19 points against Wake Forest. In both games, he has shot a combined 14 of 21 from the field. In his previous 12 ACC games he was shooting 30 percent (35-116) from the floor.

“He’s been rushing it a little bit, I think, pressing a little bit previously because he is a good shooter,” Williams said. “He’s been shooting it, it’s just not going in. The last two games he is taking better shots. Shot selection is always a huge factor in percentage, but it helps when that first shot goes in.”

The reason for McDonald’s turnaround can be summed up by a first half exchange against the Deacons. McDonald had the ball at the top of the key for a good shot. He passed it up, however, then ran off a screen and got the ball back for a better shot. He knocked down the 3-pointer, one of his five makes for the game.

[+] EnlargeLeslie McDonald
Bob Donnan/USA TODAY SportsLeslie McDonald led all scorers with 19 points in the Tar Heels' blowout win over Wake Forest.
“I’m not really trying to hunt for my shot, if it’s open, [I] take it, if I see somebody else open, [I] do the right thing,” McDonald said. “I’ve been here for so long so I know what’s a good shot and what’s a bad shot so I try to take good shots.”

Williams said McDonald has only taken two bad shots in the past two games.

• Thanks in part to McDonald, Carolina made a season high 11 3-pointers. The Heels shot 73.3 percent from behind the arc (11-for-15), which also set a school record for highest percentage* with at least 10 made in a game.

“Of all the teams to break that record,” Williams said. “Unbelievable.”

Walk-on Wade Moody, who was scoreless all season, came off the bench with the win secured to make both of his 3-point attempts. Nate Britt, who previously only had two made 3s this season, also made one in the game’s closing minutes.

Against better competition, the Heels will remain reliant almost exclusively on Marcus Paige and McDonald for their 3-point shooting. McDonald was 17 of 70 (24.2 percent) in ACC play, but has made six of his last 10. If he can remain hot the Heels will be a tough team to defend.

(*Carolina shot 12 of 15 from 3-point range against Duke on March 5, 1983, but the experimental line back then was just 17 feet, nine inches.)

• Carolina has shot above its season average from the free throw line for three straight halves now. The Heels have shot 62 percent as a team, which could end up being the lowest in school history for a season. Starting with their 13-for-17 performance in the second half against Duke then going 16-of-17 in the first half against Wake and 8-of-12 in the second half, are the Heels starting to turn the corner?

“Nobody can answer that question,” Williams said. “I got 100 letters from people this year who say they can fix free throws. It’s the dumbest damn thing I ever heard in my life. I’m not the smartest guy in the world but I’m not the dumbest either. If I could fix it I would have already fixed the thing.”

For a stretch between the end of the Duke game and the first half against Wake, eight different UNC players combined to make 21 consecutive free throws. Williams joked that the “stars and the moon aligned properly.”

ACC team previews

October, 23, 2013
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From Sept. 30 through Oct. 25, Insider will be rolling out its college basketball preview, including breakdowns on every Division I team, projected order of finish for every conference and essays from Insider's hoops experts.

Here are previews for each team in the ACC:

Boston College Eagles Insider
Clemson Tigers (free)
Duke Blue Devils Insider
Florida State Seminoles Insider
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Insider
Maryland Terrapins Insider
Miami Hurricanes Insider
North Carolina Tar Heels Insider
North Carolina State Wolfpack Insider
Notre Dame Fighting Irish Insider
Pittsburgh Panthers Insider
Syracuse Orange Insider
Virginia Cavaliers Insider
Virginia Tech Hokies Insider
Wake Forest Demon Deacons Insider

Nonconference schedule analysis: ACC

September, 9, 2013
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This week, ESPN.com is breaking down the nonconference schedules of each team in nine of the nation's top leagues. Let's carry on with the ACC.

BOSTON COLLEGE

Toughest: 2K Sports Classic (Nov. 21-22), at Purdue (Dec. 4), vs. VCU (Dec. 28 in Brooklyn), at Harvard (Jan. 1)
Next-toughest: at Providence (Nov. 8), vs. UMass (Nov. 10 at TD Garden, Boston)
The rest: Toledo (Nov. 14), Florida Atlantic (Nov. 17), Sacred Heart (Nov. 26), at USC (Dec. 8), vs. Philadelphia (Dec. 15), at Auburn (Dec. 22)

Toughness scale (1-10): 7 — The differences between Boston College's 2012-13 schedule and its slate in 2013-14 mirror the differences in the two squads' expectations. Last season's Eagles were young and still very much rebuilding; this year's group, led by Ryan Anderson and Olivier Hanlan, has serious sleeper potential. We'll get to see just how much in late November, when Steve Donahue's team takes on UConn and then either Indiana or Washington in Madison Square Garden, followed by a trip to Purdue, a New Year's date at Harvard, and what should be a fascinating nonconference sojourn to New York City to play VCU.

CLEMSON

Toughest: Charleston Classic (Nov. 21-24), at Arkansas (Dec. 7)
Next-toughest: South Carolina (Nov. 17)
The rest: Stetson (Nov. 8), Delaware State (Nov. 13), Coastal Carolina (Nov. 29), South Carolina State (Dec. 3), Furman (Dec. 14), at Auburn (Dec. 19), VMI (Dec. 30)

Toughness scale (1-10): 2 — I'm not sure whether it's possible to hand out a zero in these nonconference rankings. I'm pretty sure it's never been done. And I haven't seen every schedule in the country yet, I admit. But still: Clemson's schedule is … not great. It is possessed of exactly one interesting event -- the Charleston Classic, aka "a bunch of so-so teams and New Mexico" -- and, save a trip to Arkansas (if that), nothing else. (This isn't actual criticism, by the way. Clemson looks as if it's in the process of a big rebuild, and you wouldn't expect it to schedule hard in advance of this loaded ACC. But still. Ick.)

DUKE

Toughest: vs. Kansas (Nov. 12 in Chicago), NIT Season Tip-Off (Nov. 27-29), Michigan (Dec. 3), vs. UCLA (Dec. 19 in New York City)
Next-toughest: Davidson (Nov. 8)
The rest: Florida Atlantic (Nov. 15), UNC Asheville (Nov. 18), East Carolina/Norfolk State (Nov. 19), Vermont (Nov. 24), Gardner-Webb (Dec. 16), Eastern Michigan (Dec. 28), Elon (Dec. 31)

Toughness scale (1-10): 8 — The Blue Devils rarely overdo it with their schedules, but just as rarely make it to ACC season without at least a handful of solid results on their docket. So it is again in 2013-14, if slightly tougher than the norm. That's true for a few reasons: Duke drew high-powered Michigan in its ACC/Big Ten matchup; Duke plays Kansas, which landed uber-recruit Andrew Wiggins this summer, in the Champions Classic in November; the Blue Devils look likely to get Arizona in the NIT Season Tip-Off; and UCLA could be formidable if the leftover talent from Ben Howland's tenure jells under Steve Alford. But all of these games are safely within the Blue Devils' sphere of influence. Somehow, Coach K managed to get two of the West Coast's marquee programs without going any farther west than Chicago. Same as it ever was.

FLORIDA STATE

Toughest: Puerto Rico Tip-Off (Nov. 21-24), at Florida (Nov. 29)
Next-toughest: at Minnesota (Dec. 3)
The rest: Jacksonville (Nov. 8), at UCF (Nov. 13), UT-Martin (Nov. 17), Jacksonville State (Dec. 8), Charlotte (Dec. 17), vs. Massachusetts (Dec. 21 in Sunrise, Fla.), Charleston Southern (Dec. 30)

Toughness scale (1-10): 7 — Florida State's season would have looked much different if two freshmen -- Wiggins, who looked hard at his parents' alma mater before choosing to go to Kansas instead; and Xavier Rathan-Mayes, a top-50 recruit who did not get through the NCAA clearinghouse this spring -- had joined up. Without them, star forward Okaro White has a daunting challenge ahead of him all season, beginning with a really good field in Puerto Rico (with first-round opponent VCU, plus Michigan, Georgetown, Kansas State in the mix), followed by road trips to Florida and Minnesota in close succession.

GEORGIA TECH

Toughest: Barclays Center Classic (Nov. 29-30), Illinois (Dec. 3)
Next-toughest: at Georgia (Nov. 15), Dayton (Nov. 20) The rest: Presbyterian (Nov. 8), Delaware State (Nov. 11), North Carolina A&T (Nov. 24), Mississippi Valley State (Nov. 26), East Tennessee State (Dec. 7), Kennesaw State (Dec. 16), at Vanderbilt (Dec. 21), at Charlotte (Dec. 29)

Toughness scale (1-10): 5 — The Yellow Jackets don't have a ton here, but what they do have is solid enough, given where the program is sitting (probably best described as "getting better, if slowly") under third-year coach Brian Gregory. The Barclays Center Classic is a better-than-you-think event, with Ole Miss (and Marshall Henderson, which should be fun) followed by Penn State or St. John's, both of which should be improved over 2012-13. Illinois is the other notable nonconference game, a rematch of last season's 75-62 loss in Champaign, Ill.

MARYLAND

Toughest: UConn (Nov. 8 in Brooklyn), at Ohio State (Dec. 4)
Next-toughest: Oregon State (Nov. 17), Paradise Jam (Nov. 22-25)
The rest: Abilene Christian (Nov. 13), Morgan State (Nov. 29), at George Washington (Dec. 8), Florida Atlantic (Dec. 14), Boston University (Dec. 21), Tulsa (Dec. 29), North Carolina Central (Dec. 31)

Toughness scale (1-10): 6 — The Terrapins won't get much in the way of RPI boost out of their early-season tournament; La Salle, Providence and maybe Northern Iowa appear to be the only reasonable challengers in the Virgin Islands. But the Terps do have a good opening night date with UConn in Brooklyn, similar to last year's near miss against Kentucky, and the Big Ten-ACC Challenge sends them to Ohio State, which is guaranteed to be a win on the RPI sheet no matter what happens on the floor.

MIAMI

Toughest: Wooden Legacy (Nov. 28-Dec. 1)
Next-toughest: La Salle (Dec. 22)
The rest: St. Francis (Nov. 8), Georgia Southern (Nov. 11), Texas Southern (Nov. 14), at Charleston (Nov. 18), UCF (Nov. 21), Nebraska (Dec. 4), at Savannah State (Dec. 19), Loyola-Md. (Dec. 30)

Toughness scale (1-10): 6 — After a thoroughly euphoric 2012-13 season marked by an ACC regular-season and tournament title, a No. 2 tournament seed, and a first-round draft pick (point guard Shane Larkin), the Hurricanes are due for a serious hangover in 2013-14. Fortunately, their nonconference schedule shouldn't be too punishing. Other than the Wooden Legacy -- a quality field featuring Creighton, Marquette, San Diego State and Arizona State -- La Salle is the one real opponent of note, and the Explorers have to come to Coral Gables.

NORTH CAROLINA

Toughest: Hall of Fame Tipoff (Nov. 23-24), at Michigan State (Dec. 4), Kentucky (Dec. 14)
Next-toughest: Texas (Dec. 18)
The rest: Oakland (Nov. 8), Holy Cross (Nov. 15), Belmont (Nov. 17), at UAB (Dec. 1), UNC Greensboro (Dec. 7), Davidson (Dec. 21), Northern Kentucky (Dec. 27), UNC Wilmington (Dec. 31)

Toughness scale (1-10): 9 — The usual North Carolina scheduling partners are all here. There's that trip to Michigan State (this time thanks to the ACC/Big Ten Challenge), the home-and-home with Texas, the huge mid-December date with Kentucky -- it's all there. This year, UNC even adds to that with the Hall of Fame Tipoff tournament, which, if expectations hold, will put the Tar Heels up against defending national champion Louisville in Uncasville, Conn. (after an opening game against Richmond). That means the Heels are likely to face the preseason No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 teams in the country before the middle of December. Not too shabby.

NC STATE

Toughest: at Cincinnati (Nov. 12), at Tennessee (Dec. 18)
Next-toughest: Missouri (Dec. 28)
The rest: Appalachian State (Nov. 8), Campbell (Nov. 16), North Carolina Central (Nov. 20), Florida Gulf Coast (Nov. 26), Eastern Kentucky (Nov. 30), Northwestern (Dec. 4), Long Beach State (Dec. 7), Detroit (Dec. 14), East Carolina (Dec. 21)

Toughness scale (1-10): 5 -- NC State's young but promising batch of talent might surprise some people this season, particularly if the Wolfpack are ready for those key road dates at Cincinnati and Tennessee. It's hard to know what to expect from Missouri this season, but that could end up being a quality chance for a nonconference win in Raleigh. A two-loss nonconference run -- or better -- would have folks jumping aboard the T.J. Warren bandwagon just in time for ACC play.

NOTRE DAME

Toughest: at Iowa (Dec. 3), vs. Ohio State (Dec. 21 in New York)
Next-toughest: vs. Indiana (Dec. 14 in Indianapolis, Ind.)
The rest: Miami (Ohio) (Nov. 8), Stetson (Nov. 10), Indiana State (Nov. 17), Santa Clara (Nov. 22), Army (Nov. 24), Cornell (Dec. 1), Delaware (Dec. 7), Bryant (Dec. 9), North Dakota State (Dec. 11), Canisius (Dec. 29)

Toughness scale (1-10): 7 -- Notre Dame's official welcome to the ACC doesn't come in January but rather in the first week of December, when the Irish travel to Iowa for their first ACC/Big Ten Challenge matchup. At any point in the past few years, that would have been a perfectly manageable game, but the ascending Hawkeyes are one of the best defensive teams in their league, and Carver-Hawkeye is close to full, rollicking buy-in once more. The Crossroads Classic draw against Indiana is interesting, if not as intimidating as last season, and the Gotham Classic will match Mike Brey's team with the stifling Ohio State defense in Madison Square Garden just before Christmas break.

PITTSBURGH

Toughest: vs. Cincinnati (Dec. 17 in New York)
Next-toughest: N/A
The rest: Savannah State (Nov. 8), Fresno State (Nov. 12), Howard (Nov. 17), Lehigh (Nov. 20), Legends Classic (Nov. 25-26 in Brooklyn), Duquesne (Nov. 30), Penn State (Dec. 3), Loyola Marymount (Dec. 6), Youngstown State (Dec. 14), Cal Poly (Dec. 21), Albany (Dec. 31)

Toughness scale (1-10): 1. In recent seasons, few coaches have proved as good at gaming the Rating Percentage Index as Jamie Dixon. This is not a criticism; the NCAA's current system is made to be gamed, and, by this point, coaches who don't at least try to use the faulty system to their advantage are leaving potential seed-line improvements on the table. So I'm guessing that, by the end of the season, Pitt's RPI will be in solid shape. (And maybe the new-look ACC will take care of that on its own.) But that aside, this is a straight-up awful basketball schedule. Just … ugh. Cincinnati in Madison Square Garden is the only "marquee" game on the list, and that's a generous application of the term. The Legends Classic features an opening game against Texas Tech and a second-round matchup against either Stanford or Houston. None of those teams is truly awful -- same goes for Penn State on Dec. 3 -- but they're hardly inspiring opponents, either.

SYRACUSE

Toughest: Maui Invitational (Nov. 25-27), Indiana (Dec. 3)
Next-toughest: Villanova (Dec. 28), at St. John's (Dec. 15)
The rest: Cornell (Nov. 8), Fordham (Nov. 12), Colgate (Nov. 16, St. Francis-N.Y. (Nov. 18), Binghamton (Dec. 7), High Point (Dec. 20), Eastern Michigan (Dec. 31)

Toughness scale (1-10): 6 -- This score is awarded mostly for the Maui Invitational, which boasts a typically deep, if not vintage, field (Gonzaga, Baylor, Minnesota, Cal, Dayton, Arkansas, Chaminade). But it's worth noting that Indiana game at the Carrier Dome, which will be more of a test for the young Hoosiers, sure, but is nonetheless a big rematch of Syracuse's dominant Sweet 16 win in March. There are also two fixtures against former Big East foes Villanova and St. John's. The former is an improving, defensive group that took down the Orange in Philly last season; the latter is a road game against a talented but disjointed Red Storm.

VIRGINIA

Toughest: VCU (Nov. 12), Wisconsin (Dec. 4), at Tennessee (Dec. 30)
Next-toughest: Northern Iowa (Dec. 21)
The rest: James Madison (Nov. 8), vs. Davidson (Nov. 16 in Charlotte), Navy (Nov. 19), Liberty (Nov. 23), Hampton (Nov. 26), Corpus Christi Challenge (Nov. 29-30), at Green Bay (Dec. 7), Norfolk State (Dec. 23)

Toughness scale (1-10): 7 -- VCU and Virginia don't have much of a historical basketball rivalry because why would they? But now that Shaka Smart's program has become the state's most notable, it makes sense for Tony Bennett to schedule the Rams, whose pressure defense will be a huge stylistic test for the slow-and-steady Cavaliers in Charlottesville. Wisconsin, which lost to Virginia in Madison last season, won't be that but will be a tough home date in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, and a road trip at Tennessee rounds out the slate. UVa missed the tournament last season mostly thanks to (a) a bad noncon schedule and (b) a bunch of really bad noncon losses. This slate should help nullify both concerns.

VIRGINIA TECH

Toughest: Coaches vs. Cancer (Nov. 22-23), vs. VCU (Dec. 21 at Richmond Coliseum)
Next-toughest: West Virginia (Nov. 12)
The rest: USC Upstate (Nov. 9), Western Carolina (Nov. 15), VMI (Nov. 18), Furman (Nov. 26), Radford (Nov. 29), Winthrop (Dec. 3), UNC Greensboro (Dec. 28), Maryland-Eastern Shore (Dec. 31)

Toughness scale (1-10): 4 -- The Coaches vs. Cancer event at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn features a first-round game against Michigan State and a matchup against either Oklahoma or Seton Hall, and the home date against VCU at the Richmond Coliseum is really more like a road game. And honestly, that's probably good enough for the Hokies right now. Virginia Tech was a bit of a mess in James Johnson's first season, and that was with guard Erick Green, who submitted one of the best, most efficient all-around offensive seasons of the past half decade or so. Without him, it's going to get ugly.

WAKE FOREST

Toughest: Battle 4 Atlantis (Nov. 28-30), at Xavier (Dec. 28)
Next-toughest: Richmond (Dec. 7)
The rest: Colgate (Nov. 8), VMI (Nov. 12), Presbyterian (Nov. 15), Jacksonville (Nov. 18), The Citadel (Nov. 21), Tulane (Dec. 4), St. Bonaventure (Dec. 17), UNC Greensboro (Dec. 21)

Toughness scale (1-10): 5 — Even if Xavier still isn't back to Top 25-level hoops by late December, the Cintas Center is a brutal place to play. But the main feature of this nonconference schedule is Wake's trip to the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis, where it will play Wiggins and Kansas in the first round (which, good luck with that), followed by USC or Villanova, with Iowa, Tennessee, UTEP and Xavier lurking on the other side of the bracket. This is a crucial year for maligned coach Jeff Bzdelik and his boss, athletic director Ron Wellman. The Deacs absolutely have to show some signs of progress early on.

Conference Power Rankings: ACC

March, 1, 2013
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Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski often has said he doesn’t believe in revenge games. But after losing at Miami by 27 points in January, and getting beaten at Virginia on Thursday night, is there much doubt there will be some extra, er, motivation for the Blue Devils when they host the Hurricanes on Saturday? In the meantime, here's an attempt at this week’s ACC power rankings:

1. Miami: The now-No.-5 Hurricanes bounced back from their first ACC loss of the season (by 15 points at Wake Forest) by beating up on Virginia Tech. Since then, they’ve been able to focus on the game everyone’s been talking about: Saturday’s rematch with Duke: "It's going to be a blast," guard Trey McKinney Jones said, according to The Associated Press. "We beat them here this year, and we beat them there last year, so they're going to be gunning for our heads."

2. Duke: Plus, the No. 3 Blue Devils should be especially fired up after shooting worse than 40 percent and never leading during the 73-68 loss at Virginia on Thursday. Forward Ryan Kelly, sidelined since January with a foot injury, returned to practice this week, but isn’t expected back until after Saturday’s game.

3. Virginia: Nothing like beating the No. 3 team in the nation to bolster your NCAA tournament hopes. Joe Harris scored a career-high 36 points and teammate Akil Mitchell added a double-double Thursday night as the Cavs toppled the Blue Devils and remained tied for third place in the ACC standings.

4. North Carolina: The Tar Heels are now 4-1 since they went to a four-guard starting lineup, and as their momentum grows, so does their NCAA tournament résumé. UNC secured another 20-win season with Thursday night’s victory at Clemson, and junior Reggie Bullock has averaged 17 points and 11 rebounds the past two games.

5. NC State: The Wolfpack bounced back from their loss at UNC by blasting Boston College, securing back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time since Herb Sendek was coach. Next up: a trip to Georgia Tech, with an eye on trying to work back into the top four of the conference standings. State now stands in fifth place, a game behind the Cavs and Tar Heels.

6. Maryland: The Terps are 1-6 on the road in conference play after losing at Georgia Tech, with their only ACC road win coming at last-place Virginia Tech. They still travel to Wake Forest and Virginia, and play UNC at home, during the regular season, but Maryland’s at-large NCAA tournament bid hopes are diminishing.

7. Florida State: The Seminoles remain the worst rebounding team in the league (31.3 per game) but could get a boost when 6-foot-8 Terrance Shannon -- who suffered a neck injury on Jan. 19 but has been cleared to play -- returns. FSU beat Wake Forest earlier this week, but has still lost four of its past six games.

8. Wake Forest: After scoring 23 points en route to a court-storming win over then-No. 2 Miami, Demon Deacon C.J. Harris made only one field goal, and finished with nine points, in a loss at Florida State. So continue Wake Forest’s road woes. As some consolation, two of its final three games are at home.

9. Georgia Tech: Yellow Jackets coach Brian Gregory called his team’s win over Maryland earlier this week the most consistent 40 minutes of basketball it has played this season. Freshman forward Robert Carter Jr. posted his fourth double-double; and at 15-12 with three games left, Tech is guaranteed at least a .500 regular-season finish.

10. Clemson: Even with double-doubles from big men Milton Jennings and Devin Booker, the Tigers couldn’t outmatch the Tar Heels’ smaller starting lineup. Thursday’s defeat marked Clemson’s third consecutive loss and sixth in its last seven games, as the Tigers continue to struggle to score.

11. Boston College: It was a tough week on Tobacco Road for the Eagles, who followed a 21-point loss at Duke with an 18-point loss at NC State. Ryan Anderson averaged 17.5 points in the two defeats.

12. Virginia Tech: The Hokies snapped a nine-game losing streak by besting FSU, only to lose at Miami. The Canes held senior guard/nation's-leading-scorer Erick Green to 16 points, only the second time during the conference season that he’s failed to score at least 22.

Conference Power Rankings: ACC

February, 22, 2013
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With roughly two weeks left in the regular season, the race is on for a top-four seed (and first-day bye) in the ACC tournament. In the meantime, here are this week's rankings based on myriad factors, including how teams have performed lately and the foes they've faced:

1. Miami. Clemson and Virginia both tested the Canes, but a late 3-pointer from Kenny Kadji at the Tigers and Reggie Johnson's tiebreaking layup versus the Cavs kept Miami undefeated in league play. The 13-0 record marks the hottest league start since Duke went 16-0 en route to the conference title in 1998-99.

2. Duke. The Devils bounced back from a close loss at Maryland with a blowout win at Virginia Tech as Mason Plumlee followed a four-point, three-rebound performance with a double-double Thursday night. Coach Mike Krzyzewski is now third on the career list for victories at one school (877), behind Dean Smith and Jim Boeheim.

3. NC State. The Wolfpack got a big boost by inserting 6-foot-8 T.J. Warren into the starting lineup this week. Not only did he turn in a 31-point, 13-rebound performance against FSU, but the team grabbed a season-best 45 boards. The Pack have won three straight, and it will be interesting to see whether they stay big against the Tar Heels this weekend.

4. North Carolina. Coach Roy Williams continues to start a smaller lineup with sophomore P.J. Hairston at the 4, and the Tar Heels continue to look faster and more aggressive with another scorer on the floor. Forward James Michael McAdoo's double-double at Georgia Tech, after he scored in single digits for three straight games, is a good sign, too.

5. Virginia. The Cavs are in the midst of a tough stretch. They lost at both UNC and No. 2 Miami in the past week, play a Georgia Tech team this weekend that beat them earlier this month, and then face another test in No. 6 Duke coming up next week. Junior Joe Harris, though, continues to be on a tear, averaging 22.4 points over his past five games.

6. Maryland. Another (way) up and (way) down week for the Terps, who upset the then-second-ranked Blue Devils at home, only to lose on the road to a focused Boston College team that had won just three previous ACC games. After posting an impressive 19-point, nine-rebound game against Mason Plumlee, Maryland big man Alex Len managed only four points against the Eagles.

7. Florida State. For all his last-second shots this season, Seminoles point guard Michael Snaer hadn’t managed 20 points against an ACC foe this year, until this week. He followed a 21-point game in a win against Boston College with 20 during a loss at NC State. Next up: a trip to Virginia Tech.

8. Clemson. Another week, another home heartbreaker for the Tigers, who lost to Miami on Kadji’s 3 after losing to NC State on a Scott Wood 3 on Feb. 10. At least they won a close one in the middle at Georgia Tech. Devin Booker posted his fifth double-double of the season in Clemson’s latest loss.

9. Georgia Tech. Freshman Robert Carter Jr. hit two free throws in the final 10 seconds to beat Wake Forest before Georgia Tech lost by double figures to the Tar Heels. The Yellow Jackets were an ouch-worthy 4-for-11 from the free throw line in their latest game and remain the worst foul-shooting team in the league (63.2 percent).

10. Boston College. And to build on the above note about the importance of free throws: The Eagles hit 16 straight down the stretch to protect the lead in their win over Maryland. Freshman Olivier Hanlan scored a career-high 26 points in that game, and BC has won two of its past three.

11. Wake Forest. A three-point loss at Boston College followed by a one-point loss to Georgia Tech? The bottom tier of the ACC likes to make things interesting, at least. The Deacs are second in the league in steals, sandwiched between UNC and Duke, and C.J. Harris continues to lead the team with 14.8 points per game.

12. Virginia Tech. Erick Green is still really good, adding a 22-point game against Duke to his nation-leading scoring average. His team still is struggling, though, losing nine in a row -- including two in overtime and Thursday's loss to the Blue Devils.

Back to a blowout for Tar Heels

February, 5, 2013
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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- P.J. Hairston came back. Reggie Bullock got his shot back. And James Michael McAdoo’s sore back? That didn’t seem to be an issue as North Carolina blew out Wake Forest 87-62 on Tuesday night.

The question now: Are the Tar Heels ready to get back to meeting even bigger challenges, as they prepare to face two top-10 foes on the road (Miami, then Duke) over the next nine days?

“I couldn’t tell you,” McAdoo said when asked how close his team, which has now won six of its past seven games, is to reaching its potential. “When we show up to play, we’re a great team. We’ve had our ups and downs; I feel like our highs are getting higher, and our lows aren’t coming as often as [they used to].”

“I feel like if we keep playing, we’ll be all right.”

There were few lows Tuesday night, as junior wing Bullock (23 points) and McAdoo (20) each scored 20 or more points in the same game for the first time this season; the Tar Heels outscored the Deacons 26-12 on turnovers; and the Tar Heels (16-6, 6-3 ACC) set a season-high for points in an ACC game.

“It was a good night for us,” UNC coach Roy Williams said.

One without injuries or cold spurts or an extra period or drama.

[+] EnlargeJames Michael McAdoo
Cal Sport Media via AP ImagesA sore back didn't keep James Michael McAdoo from scoring 20 in the victory over Wake Forest.
Tuesday's shellacking concluded what was supposed to be one of the Tar Heels’ “easier” week-long stretches, schedule-wise; after all, their matchups were against three squads hovering near the bottom of the ACC standings.

But it wasn’t all that easy.

Last Tuesday, the Tar Heels won at Boston College -- despite losing Hairston, a key reserve, in the first half to a concussion.

Playing without Hairston on Saturday, it took overtime to beat Virginia Tech at home.

And leading up to the game against the Deacons, there was some doubt that Hairston would play because of flu-like symptoms, and some worry about the health of other teammates (McAdoo’s aforementioned back; starting center Desmond Hubert also had the flu).

“If you would have asked me around 11 o’clock [Monday] if I would have been able to play, I probably wouldn’t have answered the question because that’s how bad I was feeling,” said Hairston, who finished with 11 points. “Honestly, that’s probably the worst I’ve ever felt when I’ve gotten sick before because I usually don’t get sick like that.”

He didn’t look like he was feeling the after-effects of either the flu or his concussion, though, particularly during UNC’s 15-1 first-half-ending run, during which Wake failed to score a field goal for the final 5:54. Hairston scored four points -- including one of his two 3-pointers -- during that run, while Bullock added seven points during the breakaway.

“I believe the score was 32-26 at one time,” said Wake coach Jeff Bzdelik, referring to the score just before UNC began that run, “and we had the ball on a break. And I believe we turned it over. We can’t just give teams that many more possessions and that many easy points on turnovers.”

In the end, Wake (10-12, 3-7) got a double-double from forward Devin Thomas (11 points, 13 rebounds) but dropped to 0-6 on the road in ACC play. The Tar Heels, meanwhile, shot 51.6 percent for the game -- led by Bullock, who made 7 of his 10 shots after a frustrating 3-for-13 outing last weekend.

The junior said he knows his team has a challenging stretch coming up. But he also believes the Tar Heels are close to reaching their potential.

To being back, so to speak.

“We still are right around the corner from it,” he said. “In the game today there were some great stretches that we had, but there were still some stretches we could have done a lot better. Once we just put the whole game together fully, I feel like we’ll be a top-25 team.”
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Another road game, another struggle for Wake Forest, which has yet to win a conference test away from home. North Carolina, meanwhile, now has won six of its past seven games. A quick look at the Tar Heels’ 87-62 blowout victory over the Demon Deacons at the Smith Center on Tuesday night:

Turning point: With 5 minutes, 54 seconds left in the first half, Arnaud Adala Moto converted a three-point play to cut Wake Forest’s deficit to 32-26. But it was the last field goal the Deacons scored before halftime, as the Tar Heels broke away with a 15-1 run that included seven points from Reggie Bullock and four from P.J. Hairston (back after sitting out Saturday’s victory against Virginia Tech because of a concussion).

That gave UNC a 47-27 lead at the break, as the Tar Heels outscored the Deacons 18-3 off turnovers alone, and point guard Marcus Paige grabbed a career-high six rebounds in the first 20 minutes. And the game only grew more lopsided in the second half.

Key player(s): Sophomore forward James Michael McAdoo had 20 points and Bullock scored 23, the first time all season that duo has each recorded 20 or more points in the same game. ... Moto finished with 13 points for Wake.

Noteworthy number(s): In its past three ACC road games, Wake Forest has trailed by 20, 17 and 30 in the first half. The Deacons shot just 39.1 percent in the first half and committed 13 turnovers. ... UNC's point total was a season high in ACC play this season; 12 Tar Heels scored.

Etc.: Hairston, considered doubtful to play because of flu-like symptoms Monday, checked in to a loud cheer from the crowd with 14:58 left in the first half. He finished with 11 points.

What’s next: The Tar Heels play at No. 8 Miami on Saturday; Wake hosts Florida State the same day.

//

Conference Power Rankings: ACC

February, 1, 2013
2/01/13
7:30
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Miami keeps rolling while the rest of the league keeps shuffling. Here are this week’s ever-changing ACC Power Rankings, based on myriad factors, including how teams have performed lately and the foes they've faced:

1. Miami. At a time when top teams are winning with youth, it’s refreshing to see the Hurricanes be so successful with a slew of upperclassmen. Monday, the Hurricanes rose 11 spots in the AP rankings, to No. 14. Wednesday, they remained undefeated in league play (7-0) with a win at Virginia Tech. Next up: a trip to No. 19 NC State, the preseason favorite to win the ACC.

2. Duke. It took a career-high 32 points from Mason Plumlee, plus a clutch 3-pointer from Seth Curry with less than three minutes left, but the fifth-ranked Blue Devils notched their first true road win of the season at Wake Forest on Wednesday. This, after freshmen Rasheed Sulaimon and Amile Jefferson posted big games in a blowout against Maryland.

3. Virginia. The Cavaliers extended what had been a fairly quiet winning streak with an exclamation point when it upset No. 19 NC State on Tuesday. Joe Harris scored 22 points in that win and has averaged 15.8 points over UVa’s past four victories. Meanwhile, the Cavs' defense has held foes to an average of 50 points per game during the streak.

4. NC State. Point guard Lorenzo Brown has proven to be a fast healer in the past, returning from offseason knee surgery more quickly than expected. The No. 19 Wolfpack is hoping for the same thing now, after he sprained his left ankle in the first half of Tuesday’s loss at Virginia. The junior, who was in a walking boot Wednesday, leads the league with 6.9 assists per game.

5. North Carolina. Sophomore reserve P.J. Hairston, who was averaging about a point a minute over his past three games, will be sidelined this weekend after suffering a concussion. But at least the Tar Heels get junior guard Leslie McDonald back after an academics-related suspension. Coach Roy Williams hated his team’s lack of aggressiveness in the first half of its loss at rival NC State but was pleased with the way it overcame the adversity of losing Hairston at Boston College.

6. Florida State. Lose big or win on a Michael Snaer last-second shot? For the past two weeks, it’s been one or the other for FSU. Wednesday, Snaer -- who buried two game winners in ACC play last season -- hit his second in seven days, this time a 3-pointer with 1.1 seconds left to top Maryland. But that followed a 24-point loss at Miami.

7. Maryland. It was a tough week for the Terps, who saw the best out of freshman foe Rasheed Sulaimon (25 points) during a blowout loss at Duke, then classic Michael Snaer (game winner) at Florida State. Ouch. Maryland has now lost five of its past seven.

8. Clemson. Forward Milton Jennings again showed his capability with his 28-point, 14-rebound effort against Virginia Tech last weekend. But he followed that with nine points in a win against Georgia Tech. “He can be a very good player in this league, and he's shown it at times," said coach Brad Brownell. But the senior has had trouble with consistency, something the Tigers could use.

9. Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons have run the gamut over the past week and a half, following the best win of the Jeff Bzdelik era (over 18th-ranked NC State), with a 20-point thud at Georgia Tech, and then with a down-to-the-final-minutes loss against No. 5 Duke. Freshman Devin Thomas is averaging 14.2 points over his past five games, but Wake has now lost four of them.

10. Virginia Tech. The Hokies’ only two ACC wins of the season have come in overtime (at Georgia Tech) and by a point (to Wake Forest), but senior Erick Green makes this team worth watching. He continues to lead the nation in scoring at 25.5 ppg and has been averaging 30 points over his team’s past three losses. Next up: UNC.

11. Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets finally won an ACC game, clobbering Wake Forest by 20 points last weekend. But they followed that with a three-point defeat at Clemson. Tech remains last in the league in field goal percentage, at 42.2 percent.

12. Boston College. Make that five straight losses for the Eagles, who continue to be led by sophomore Ryan Anderson (16.4 ppg) and Olivier Hanlan (14.1 ppg) but are allowing ACC foes to make .483 percent of their shots.

Conference Power Rankings: ACC

January, 25, 2013
1/25/13
7:30
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Last week, I went back and forth (and back, again) on who should be No. 1 in the ACC. This time, after another week of upsets, three teams could make a case for No. 2. Agree or disagree -- and feel free to, below -- here are this week’s ACC Power Rankings, based on myriad factors, including how teams have performed lately and the foes they've faced.

1. Miami: In case you missed it, the Hurricanes on Wednesday handed Duke the third-worst loss ever for a No. 1 ranked team (27 points), and the Devils’ most lopsided regular-season loss in five seasons. It marked Miami’s first victory over a top-rated team in the basketball program’s history -- and it got big man Reggie Johnson back from a broken thumb earlier than expected. Not a bad week for the final undefeated team in ACC play, eh?

2. NC State: What’s worse, losing on the road by two points at Wake Forest, as the Wolfpack did on Tuesday night, or getting blown out on the road at Miami, like Duke the following day? Both these teams are struggling, having lost two of their past three, and NCSU has got to find a way to shore up its defense. But State gets the edge, for now, because it accounted for one of those two Duke losses.

3. Duke: It’s clear that the Blue Devils are not the same team without senior forward Ryan Kelly, who has now missed three games and is out indefinitely with a foot injury. Not just because of his ability to hit 3-pointers, but his ability, at 6-foot-11, to pull defenders away from the bucket and open things up for his teammates. They must adjust, and quickly, considering Seth Curry, Mason Plumlee and Quinn Cook were a combined 6-for-37 at Miami.

4. North Carolina: Like the Hurricanes last week, an argument could be made that UNC should be higher in these rankings, based on the fact that it has won three straight, and two of the teams above them have not. No doubt this team, which has garnered two straight double-doubles from James Michael McAdoo and some big buckets from Reggie Bullock, is getting better. How much better will be tested on the road against the Wolfpack on Saturday.

5. Virginia: After holding Florida State to 36 points in a 20-point blowout, freshman Evan Nolte scored a career-high 18 points in a win over Virginia Tech to push the Cavs’ ACC record to 3-2. Next up: match-ups with Boston College and NC State at home.

6. Maryland: Coach Mark Turgeon has started eight different lineups this season in a quest to find the right combination. But what he hasn’t found yet is consistent offense. While the Terps, who followed a loss at UNC with a win over Boston College, lead the league in field goal percentage defense, they have made only 39.4 percent of their shots in six ACC games.

7. Florida State: There you are, Michael Snaer. After burying two buzzer beaters during ACC play last season, the guard did it again Thursday night against Clemson. It was a good way to recover from the Seminoles’ horrendous (i.e., 36-point) offensive effort in a loss to Virginia.

8. Wake Forest: "There were a lot of moments," Deacons coach Jeff Bzdelik told The Associated Press after his team upset NC State on Tuesday, "but we finished with a beautiful moment." Led by freshman Devin Thomas' career-high 25 points, Wake marked its first victory over a team ranked in the AP Top 25 since February, 2010, when Dino Gaudio was still coach.

9. Clemson: Forward Devin Booker averaged 21 points in the last week during two oh-so-close losses at NC State and FSU. The senior is averaging 13 points and 8 rebounds for the season.

10. Virginia Tech: The up-and-down season continues to go up and down for the Hokies. After Robert Brown made a short jumper to beat Wake Forest by a point, Va. Tech lost by double figures to Virginia -- despite Erick Green adding a career-high 35 points to his nation-leading scoring average.

11. Boston College: Freshman Olivier Hanlan has earned back-to-back ACC Rookie of the Week honors, and is averaging 17.5 points over his past four games. But his team has lost three straight during that stretch, all by five or fewer points.

12. Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets -- despite playing NC State close, taking Virginia Tech to overtime and leading Duke at halftime -- remain the final winless (0-5) team in league play. Kammeon Holsey continues to impress as a sixth man, though; he had 18 points and nine rebounds during Wednesday’s loss at UNC.

Conference Power Rankings: ACC

January, 18, 2013
1/18/13
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Who deserves the top slot in the ACC? Miami, alone atop the league standings at 4-0, has a strong case. So does Duke, still the highest-ranked among the conference teams. And so does NC State, which handed Duke its first loss of the season last weekend and knocked the Blue Devils out of first place in the national ratings.

Let the debate commence, but here are my ACC Power Rankings for this week, based on myriad factors, including how teams have performed lately and the foes they've faced:

1. NC State. After toppling top-ranked Duke at home on Saturday, Maryland center Alex Len's game winner with 0.9 seconds left kept the Wolfpack from staying perfect in conference play. The loss snapped No. 14 NC State’s 10-game winning streak, but will it erode the Pack’s confidence or momentum? Somehow, I don’t think so.

2. Duke. Seth Curry scored 20-plus points for the third time in four games, and freshman Rasheed Sulaimon broke out of his shooting slump (15 points, 5-for-8) as the third-ranked Blue Devils bounced back from their first loss of the season with a win over Georgia Tech on Thursday night. Duke is now 1-1 without starter Ryan Kelly, who is sidelined with a foot injury.

3. Miami. I hear you, Miami fans: You want the Hurricanes to be ranked higher, considering they’re the only undefeated team in the ACC and are off to their best conference start since going 5-0 to open their Big East season in 1997-98. Next Wednesday’s game vs. Duke will certainly give them the chance to move up in these ratings -- and others.

4. Maryland. After losing at Miami last weekend, Terps fans stormed the court Wednesday night to celebrate their team’s first win over a ranked foe since March 3, 2010. The victory over NC State was an important step for coach Mark Turgeon’s team, which will try to take another one at UNC on Saturday. "I came here to do great things,’’ Turgeon said after the game, according to the AP. “We haven't done many great things since I've been here. This is a great thing."

5. North Carolina. Credit reserve P.J. Hairston's career-high 23 points and little-used backup Jackson Simmons' eight-point, four-rebound afternoon at FSU for keeping the Tar Heels from falling to 0-3 in the ACC last Saturday. But the Tar Heels need more from their starters, particularly their big guys, if they want to continue an upward trajectory in the conference.

6. Florida State. The Tar Heels outrebounded the Seminoles by 22 last Saturday, and despite a 2-1 league start, FSU has now been outrebounded in four straight games. They’ll need to hit the boards hard this weekend against a Virginia team that likes to frustrate offenses with a deliberate pace and defense.

7. Virginia. How do you beat UNC, only to lose at Wake Forest and Clemson? At least the Cavaliers have had an open week to try to figure that out before hosting Florida State on Saturday. Joe Harris continues to lead UVa in scoring, but has shot 10-for-27 in his team’s past two losses.

8. Clemson. It was a good week for the Tigers, who held Virginia and Wake Forest to 44 points apiece in victories. Milton Jennings scored a season-high 21 points against the Cavs, while K.J. McDaniels posted career-highs in rebounds (nine) and blocks (seven) against the Deacons.

9. Boston College. It was a tough week for the Eagles, who lost two down-to-the wire games at Wake Forest and against Miami. Lonnie Jackson has come on strong as of late; he’s averaging just over 20 points in his past three outings. All three of BC’s conference losses have been by five or fewer points.

10. Wake Forest. C.J. Harris scored a career-high 29 points to help topple Boston College, only to have his team score just 44 points total (the Deacons' lowest output of the season) in a loss to Clemson. Next up: Virginia Tech.

11. Virginia Tech. It took overtime, but the Hokies finally halted their four-game losing streak with a win at Georgia Tech. Erick Green -- who else? -- led Virginia Tech’s rally; he has now scored in double figures in 19 straight games dating back to last season -- the ACC's longest active streak.

12. Georgia Tech. After a 10-2 start, the Jackets have now lost four straight to open ACC play. One positive from Thursday night’s loss at Duke: With three freshmen in the starting lineup, Tech led by as many as seven points in the first half. One negative: 21 turnovers for the game.

Conference Power Rankings: ACC

January, 11, 2013
1/11/13
7:30
AM ET
Can we just call places 3 through 6 a tie? After the first week of ACC play, it’s harder than ever to judge the middle of the league pack. But here are this week’s ACC Power Rankings, based on myriad factors, including how teams have performed lately and the foes they've faced:

1. Duke. Still undefeated, still No. 1 after victories over Wake Forest and Clemson. But the Blue Devils will be tested Saturday not only by an NC State team that has won nine in a row, but by playing without senior forward Ryan Kelly, who is out indefinitely with an injured right foot.

2. NC State. The Wolfpack was picked to win the ACC during the preseason by both media and coaches, and Saturday’s home game against the Blue Devils will show if it has what it takes to make that push. Lorenzo Brown, with 21 points against Georgia Tech, was the latest to lead his team in scoring. Who’s next?

3. Miami. The Hurricanes have never started 2-0 in the ACC -- until now. Senior forward Kenny Kadji had 18 points to help break his team’s 10-game losing streak to UNC on Thursday night, and sixth-year senior Julian Gamble (14 points against the Tar Heels) has been filling in admirably for the injured Reggie Johnson.

4. Maryland. Dez Wells had a bad shooting night, Alex Len at times got pushed around, and the Terps saw their 13-game winning streak snapped via a 12-point comeback by Florida State. Whether they bounce back at Miami this weekend could be a good indication of whether they’re a top-tier ACC team.

5. Florida State. Junior forward Okaro White has come up big during the Seminoles’ 2-0 ACC start, averaging 17.5 points and 8 rebounds. And so has his team. "We sat down, the juniors and seniors, with the young guys and told them we have to stop talking, and we have to show them how hard you have to play,’’ White told Tallahassee.com.

6. Virginia. Beat North Carolina, only to lose to Wake Forest? It might be that sort of topsy-turvy season for the Cavs, who should get more and more of a boost as senior guard Jontel Evans, who returned from injury last weekend, gets more and more back in sync with the offense.

7. North Carolina. Coach Roy Williams said his team was stressed in the locker room after losing to Miami on Thursday night. And for good reason: This marks only the fourth time UNC has ever started 0-2 in the ACC, and things won’t get any easier at Florida State on Saturday.

8. Boston College. The Eagles have now won six of their past seven games, and gave NC State a scare in their only loss since Dec. 4. Sophomore Lonnie Jackson has posted double digit points for three consecutive games, including a season-high 22 at Virginia Tech.

9. Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets had a six-game winning streak broken by the start of ACC play. Tech is shooting just 35.2 percent during its 0-2 conference start.

10. Wake Forest. Despite shooting just 26 percent after halftime and failing to score a field goal for the final 10 minutes, the Deacs survived Virginia’s comeback attempt. “We stayed with it,” Wake Forest forward Travis McKie told The Times-News. “I think early in the season we would’ve put our head down and had a pity party. But we stayed with it and continued to fight hard.” Wake has now won five of seven games.

11. Clemson. The Tigers scored only 10 points, on just 12 percent shooting, in the first half at Duke on Wednesday. Yikes. Devin Booker has posted two double-doubles in Clemson’s 0-2 ACC start.

12. Virginia Tech. Already-undermanned Tech was down to six scholarship players during its midweek loss to BC, thanks to illness and injury. Erick Green continues to lead the nation in scoring, but the Hokies have now lost four in a row, and are 0-2 in ACC play.

Conference Power Rankings: ACC

December, 28, 2012
12/28/12
7:44
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Only one more week of tune-ups before Atlantic Coast Conference play begins. Here are this week’s ACC Power Rankings, based on myriad factors, including how teams have performed lately and the foes they've faced:

1. Duke: The 11-0 Blue Devils took the week off, but they remain the top team in the ACC, and nation. Mason Plumlee continues to lead the league in rebounding (11.5 per game), although his team ranks 11th in the league in rebounding margin (minus-0.3). Duke returns to the court Saturday versus Santa Clara.

2. NC State: Forward C.J. Leslie scored a career-high 33 points en route to the Wolfpack’s fifth straight win, over St. Bonaventure, last weekend. It marked the first time he has scored 20 or more points this season, as five NC State players are averaging double figures.

3. Maryland: The Terps allowed a 20-point lead to dwindle to three before beating Stony Brook last Friday. Maryland is fourth in the nation in both assists (18.6) and rebounds (44.4) per game.

4. North Carolina: The Tar Heels didn’t get much of a test during a blowout victory against McNeese State, but they will get one Saturday against No. 20 UNLV. Coach Roy Williams still wants a more balanced attack inside, but three different players have started at center over the past three games.

5. Virginia: Old Dominion had lost nine in a row before using a 21-4 second-half run to stun the Cavaliers -- and maybe serve up a wake-up call?. “I hope they weren’t feeling [good about] themselves: ‘Hey, we won [eight] in a row,’” coach Tony Bennett said after the loss, according to The Washington Post. “I would hope that’s not the case, but if it was, this will certainly bring you back to reality.”

6. Miami: Without big man Reggie Johnson (jammed thumb), the Hurricanes skidded to a 1-2 finish in the Diamond Head Classic, beating Hawaii before losing to No. 4 Arizona, then Indiana State. Wednesday’s game against La Salle will mark their final test before ACC play.

7. Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets have now won four straight, and six in a row at home at new McCamish Pavilion. Midseason Kentucky transfer Stacey Poole made his Tech debut last weekend, scoring seven points in the second half of his team’s win over The Citadel. But the Jackets still rank last in the league in field goal percentage (43.0).

8. Florida State: After sitting out the previous game because of disciplinary reasons, senior Michael Snaer returned with a 30-point game to help top Charlotte. That three-point win means FSU has now won three in a row since losing three straight.

9. Virginia Tech: Erick Green notched a career-high 31 points to edge Bradley by a point, but his 26 points the following day weren’t nearly enough during a blowout loss to Colorado State in the Las Vegas Classic. The Hokies have now lost three of their past five since their 7-0 start.

10. Clemson: BYU transfer Damarcus Harrison showed his potential by notching 15 points, 4 rebounds and 6 assists off the bench in a win over South Carolina State. And the Tigers could use some more of that, as they rank 250th in the nation in points (64.4 per game), 195th in rebounds (34.8) and 220th in assists(12.3).

11. Boston College: BC halted Providence’s six-game winning streak, and now the Eagles have won three straight. Ryan Anderson continues to pace his team with 16.1 points (third-best in the ACC) and 9.7 rebounds (second-best in the ACC) per game.

12. Wake Forest: After beating UNC Greensboro earlier this week, coach Jeff Bzdelik said his team is starting to come together and find their roles at the right time. We’ll see. The Deacons have one more nonconference game, against Xavier, before opening their conference slate at Duke. They’re still getting outrebounded by an average of 1.9 per game, and allowing foes to shoot 43.6 percent.

Conference Power Rankings: ACC

December, 21, 2012
12/21/12
8:07
AM ET
Anyone else more than ready for the beginning of league play? Here are this week’s ACC Power Rankings, based on myriad factors, including how teams have performed lately and the foes they've faced:

1. Duke. It’s been a pretty good week for the 11-0 Blue Devils. After moving to No. 1 in The Associated Press rankings thanks to Indiana’s loss to Butler, they easily topped Cornell and Elon on consecutive nights. On Thursday, they got a commitment from Jabari Parker, the second-ranked senior in the ESPN 100.

2. NC State. When Scott Wood is hitting 3s, Lorenzo Brown is being aggressive, C.J. Leslie is scoring, and Richard Howell is pulling down double-doubles -- as they did against Stanford on Tuesday -- the Wolfpack are hard to beat. State continues to top the nation in field goal percentage (53.0).

3. Maryland. The Terps, winners of nine straight, haven’t played since their Dec. 12 hammering of Monmouth. They face Stony Brook on Friday before getting another week between games.

4. Miami. The Hurricanes made quick work of then-undefeated Charlotte last weekend before blowing out UCF on the road, and guard Durand Scott continues to prove his importance. The Canes have won six straight, including five since Scott returned from suspension, and the senior guard leads the team in scoring (15.6 per game).

5. Virginia. The Cavs looked a little rusty at first during their 18-point win over Morgan State, but they hadn’t played since Dec. 8. Junior forward Akil Mitchell has posted five double-doubles this season, and UVa has won eight in a row.

6. North Carolina. Coach Roy Williams was talking about the need for the players to buy in after a close win against East Carolina followed by an ugly loss at struggling Texas. Not a good sign 11 games into the season. Up next: McNeese State.

7. Virginia Tech. After an impressive 7-0 start, the Hokies have lost two of their last three, including a surprising drop to sub-.500 Georgia Southern. Erick Green continued his scoring tear, however; he has scored at least 20 points in 10 straight games.

8. Georgia Tech. Freshman Solomon Poole, a midseason high school graduate, made his college debut against Alabama State, playing six minutes in the victory. His older brother Stacey, a midseason transfer from Kentucky, will be eligible to make his Yellow Jackets debut Saturday. Tech has won three in a row.

9. Florida State. Although Michael Snaer was serving a one-game suspension for what coach Leonard Hamilton called a “discipline issue” against Louisiana-Monroe, the Seminoles won their second straight. The guard is expected to be back on the court for Saturday’s test against 11-1 Charlotte.

10. Clemson. The Tigers were blown out by a Coastal Carolina team that had beaten only one other Division I squad this season. Enough said.

11. Boston College. The Eagles shot 2-for-22 from 3-point land against New Hampshire. Good thing the two they made were in overtime. Ryan Anderson pulled down a career-high 19 rebounds in the win, which pushed BC back to .500.

12. Wake Forest. It’s gotten so bad in Winston-Salem that coach Jeff Bzdelik has stopped taking live questions on his call-in show. At least the Deacons beat Furman to push their record to 5-5.

Conference Power Rankings: ACC

December, 14, 2012
12/14/12
7:30
AM ET
Final exams made for a fairly light week for most of the league’s teams. But 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: Guard Seth Curry injured his left ankle during the Blue Devils’ win over Ohio State, and he continues to deal with a right shin injury that will likely bother him all season. But neither kept him from scoring 23 points against Temple in East Rutherford, N.J. Duke is now 9-0.

2. NC State: The Wolfpack returned to their old home, Reynolds Coliseum, to beat Cleveland State. Forward C.J. Leslie scored a season-high 19 points in that win, and State remains one of the best shooting teams in the nation (52.1 percent).

3. Virginia Tech: Erick Green failed to bury the game-winner at West Virginia last weekend, but the senior continued to show his mettle by recording 23 points, 10 assists, 4 rebounds and zero turnovers -- while dealing with flu-like symptoms -- in the Hokies’ first loss of the season. He also scored 23 against Mississippi Valley State on Monday.

4. Maryland: Wednesday’s win over Monmouth marked the Terps’ ninth straight win since opening the season with a loss to then-top-5 Kentucky. They allowed the fewest points (38) in a game since 2004, and continue to be led by Alex Len’s 13.9 points and 8.8 rebounds per game.

5. North Carolina: The Tar Heels couldn’t have learned a whole lot about themselves during Saturday’s blowout of undermanned East Tennessee State, but it had to serve as a good workout during exams. Point guard Marcus Paige returned after shoulder surgery, but the revolving door at center continues.

6. Miami: The Hurricanes haven’t played since their Dec. 1 victory at UMass, but their game Friday against undefeated Charlotte should serve as a good test. Shane Larkin leads the team in points (16.3 per game) and Reggie Johnson is averaging a double-double (12.8 ppg, 10.8 rpg).

7. Virginia: The Cavaliers held their past two opponents, Tennessee and Mississippi Valley State, to 38 and 39 points, respectively. Joe Harris (14.8 ppg) and Akil Mitchell (13.4) lead the team in scoring.

8. Georgia Tech: The Jackets, off to a 6-2 start after beating UNC-Wilmington, could get another boost with the addition of 6-foot Solomon Poole, who graduated high school early. He began practicing with Tech on Saturday and is waiting to be cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center. His older brother, Stacey, a transfer from Kentucky, also becomes eligible next week.

9. Florida State: After losing three straight, the Seminoles got back in the win column against Maine with a more balanced attack and defensive focus. They have four more games to work out their inconsistencies before ACC play begins.

10. Clemson: The Tigers led unbeaten Arizona in the second half before the Wildcats pulled away. Senior forward Milton Jennings scored 15 points in his return after a two-game suspension; he ranks second on the team in points, rebounds and assists.

11. Boston College: The Eagles have now won two of their past three after beating St. Francis. Ryan Anderson continues to lead his team in scoring (14.3 ppg), but has posted single-digit points in four of his past five games.

12. Wake Forest: The Deacons have lost three of their past four games after last weekend’s home defeat to Seton Hall. C.J. Harris scored a season-high 28 points in that game, but Wake is last in the ACC in rebound margin (minus-3.4) and scoring defense (70.9 ppg).

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