Irish Stew: ACC men's basketball power rankings (Feb. 27)

Tom Noie
South Bend Tribune

Each Monday with conference play in full swing, NDI Notre Dame men’s basketball insider Tom Noie offers his power rankings of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s 15 teams.

The rankings are based on the previous week each team experienced. Here are NDI’s ACC rankings for the week of Feb. 27-March 4. Teams are listed from strongest to weakest with overall and conference records as of Monday in parenthesis.

Coaches' quotes come from the Feb. 27 teleconference. Four coaches – North Carolina’s Roy Williams and Virginia’s Tony Bennett and Miami’s Jim Larranaga and Virginia Tech’s Buzz Williams – did not participate on the call because it was a game day for those teams.

And now, the final power rankings for the 2016-17 ACC regular season, which ends Saturday with Duke’s visit to North Carolina.

1. North Carolina (25-5; 13-3)

Last week: 1

Noting: The No. 5 Tar Heels have won their 31st ACC regular-season championship in school history.

Quoting: “I do think we’re getting a little better, but I still want us to make big-time strides, and we really need to make big time strides defensively. I really think we’ve got a long way to go there.”

• Tar Heels coach Roy Williams on his team’s defensive improvement following Saturday’s win over Pittsburgh.

2. Notre Dame (22-7; 11-5)

Last week: 4

Noting: The No. 19 Irish have won five in a row since switching to their mustard-gold jerseys for the Feb. 7 home game against Wake Forest.

Quoting: “If we were to finish in the top four and get a double bye, that would be six of the last eight years and that’s something we’re really proud of.”

• Irish coach Mike Brey

3. Louisville (23-6; 11-5)

Last week: 3

Noting: The No. 8 Cardinals enter the final week of the regular season the league leader in field goal percentage defense (.393).

Quoting: “We've played the No. 1 schedule in the nation and have come out of it pretty strong."

• Cardinals coach Rick Pitino

4. Florida State (23-6; 11-5)

Last week: 6

Noting: The No. 15 Seminoles have won five of their last seven overall, and are 3-5 on the road in league play.

Quoting: “This league is getting tougher and tougher and every night, you never know what’s going to happen. We do know one thing, if you’re not at you’re very, very best, something bad will happen. That will hold true.”

• Seminoles coach Leonard Hamilton

5. Miami (Fla.) (20-8; 10-6)

Last week: 7

Noting: The No. 25 Hurricanes have quietly won six of their last seven and have a chance to earn one of the four double byes.

Quoting: “They’re finding a way to overcome whatever the obstacles are and play at a high level, especially at the defensive end of the floor and rebounding.”

• Hurricanes coach Jim Larranaga following Saturday’s victory over Duke.

6. Duke (22-7; 10-6)

Last week: 2

Noting: The No. 17 Blue Devils have lost two in a row for the second time in league play this season.

Quoting: “You would hope, especially on rebounding, you can score. Hopefully we can take another jump with those (inside) guys.”

• Blue Devils head coach Mike Krzyzewski

7. Virginia (19-9; 9-7)

Last week: 5

Noting: The No. 23 Cavaliers may finish with nine league losses, the most since 2011. Virginia lost a combined nine league games the previous three years.

Quoting: "Scheduling is an interesting thing. We'll discuss some things when the time is right with the people we should discuss it with, in terms of games and spacing and all of that. Some of this stuff is TV driven and I get all of that. Quick turnaround, you have to be ready.”

• Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett following Saturday’s victory over North Carolina State

8. Virginia Tech (20-8; 9-7)

Last week: 8

Noting: The Hokies have a chance at double-digit league wins for a second-straight season after winning a combined 21 games the previous five years.

Quoting: “For us to be in the position that we’re in today, just very humbled by it. … This is the hardest thing to do in life, is to flip something from the absolute bottom.”

• Hokies coach Buzz Williams following Saturday’s win at Boston College

9. Syracuse (17-13; 9-8)

Last week: 10

Noting: The Orange rank second in free throw percentage for league games at .788 but only seventh overall at .722.

Quoting: "What happens outside of (Saturday's game against Georgia Tech) is not something we have any control over. I'm not thinking about that."

• Orange coach Jim Boeheim

10. Georgia Tech (16-13; 7-9)

Last week: 9

Noting: Two wins to close the regular season would give the Yellow Jackets their first .500 mark in league play since going 8-8 in 2007.

Quoting: “We’re going to have to be perfect in energy, effort and execution. We have such severe limitations and trouble scoring. It’s hurt us in some of our key losses.”

• Yellow Jackets coach Josh Pastner

11. Wake Forest (16-12; 7-9)

Last week: 11

Noting: The Demon Deacons look to finish .500 in the ACC for the first time since 2010, when they went 9-7.

Quoting: “This league is a beast and we all know that, we all recognize that. We feel like our league is the best that it’s been in quite some time. That’s saying something.”

• Demon Deacons coach Danny Manning

12. Pittsburgh (15-14; 4-12)

Last week: 12

Noting: After losing eight in a row and then winning two straight for the first time in league play, the Panthers have lost two of three.

Quoting: “Life doesn’t get any easier in this league. We had a tough week last week and hope to have a better week this week.”

• Panthers coach Kevin Stallings

13. Clemson (14-14; 4-12)

Last week: 13

Noting: Nine of the Tigers’ league losses have come by eight or fewer points, including the last three by a combined nine points.

Quoting: “We’re playing better than our record, but at the end of the day, you are what your record is, so it’s hard to come to practice feeling really good after you lost.”

• Tigers coach Brad Brownell

14. North Carolina State (15-15; 4-13)

Last week: 14

Noting: The Wolfpack were picked in preseason to finish sixth in the ACC, one spot ahead of Notre Dame.

Quoting: “We’re trying to find a way to finish and strong and get some momentum for the ACC Tournament, then see what happens up there.”

• Wolfpack coach Mark Gottfried

15. Boston College (9-20; 2-14)

Last week: 15

Noting: The Eagles head to South Bend having lost 12 in a row since last beating North Carolina State at home on Jan. 11.

Quoting: “You want to be going into the (league) tournament with a positive feeling and playing well for 40 minutes so your kids know they have an opportunity to win. That’s what’s important now. We’re in control of games and giving them away.”

• Eagles coach Jim Christian

Georgia Tech's Tadric Jackson (1) reacts next to Notre Dame's Steve Vasturia (32) as the ball heads out of bounds during Sunday's game. (AP Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN)