Seriously, how does Syracuse keep pulling off these miraculous wins? Granted, they SHOULD be winning as the No. 1 team in the nation, but someone is watching over the Orange this season.
Aside from the conference's top team winning in spectacular fashion, the ACC's top teams remained unharmed for the most part. Duke avoided dropping a close game to Maryland while Virginia kept up its solid defense to get to 12-1 in conference play. The biggest move of the week is likely North Carolina moving up to the No. 4 spot ahead of Pittsburgh.
Notre Dame is now up to No. 10 in the conference, for those of you keeping track with the lower ranks. Let's see how everyone fared this past week.
1. Syracuse (25-0, 12-0) - Jim Boeheim has obviously sold his soul. That's the only logical explanation left for the string of nail-biting endings the Orange continue to endure, and come away with victories for that matter. Over the past week, Syracuse defeated Pittsburgh with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Tyler Ennis from the parking lot. Then, on Saturday, the Nation's No. 1 team found itself trailing N.C. State with just seconds to go, but Rakeem Christmas came up with a steal that led to a C.J. Fair layup. An unreal week for this undefeated squad.
2. Virginia (21-5, 12-1) - Nine straight wins and counting. Virginia's defense is still paving the way to one of the best seasons we've seen from this school in quite some time. The Cavaliers rank first in the nation in fewest points allowed per game. They also rebound 75 percent of their opponents' missed shots, ranking No. 5 in college basketball. Joe Harris scored 35 points combined in the last two wins over Maryland and Clemson, Virginia's first win against the Tigers on the road in seven years.
3. Duke (20-5, 9-3) - The last Duke-Maryland game in ACC history won't be forgotten anytime soon. The Blue Devils watched one last shot from Charles Mitchell linger on the rim for what felt like "an eternity," according to Jabari Parker, before it rolled out. Parker was huge again with 23 points and eight boards. He's averaging 20.4 points per game in his last eight ACC matchups, combining of good mixture of scoring from inside the paint and at the free-throw line. Duke's other game with UNC was moved to Feb. 20 due to a huge amount of snow in the area.
4. UNC (18-7, 8-4) - The Tar Heels can add a quality win to their resume with a 75-71 win over the Pittsburgh Panthers. James Michael McAdoo stole the show with another double-double (24 points, 12 rebounds). UNC should break the top 25 ranks once again if it gets its eighth straight win this week (that’d be a win over Duke on Thursday). Free throws are still worrisome, but Bryce Johnson went 7-for-10 from the line and 3-of-4 in the final minute against Pitt. J.P Tokoto held Lamar Patterson to 5-of-15 shooting. The role players are stepping out right now.
5. Pittsburgh (20-6, 8-5) - The Panthers might have booked a vacation the same time March Madness starts, because they seem uninterested in even making the tournament at this point. A loss to UNC puts Pitts at 2-4 in its last six games, and those two wins came in overtime against bad teams. Jamie Dixon's team basically matched the Tar Heel s in every stat on Saturday, but one more turnover and two fewer three's led to a four-point defeat. Talib Zanna has been dealing with an ankle injury. Lamar Patterson has been playing with a sore thumb. But you can't pin the recent woes on those ailments. The Panthers don't appear to have much confidence.
6. North Carolina State (16-9, 6-6) - You can't take anything away from the Wolfpack's performance against Syracuse. Two turnovers in the last 21 seconds; no one is beating the No. 1 team at home with those mistakes. Look at the big picture, though. Mark Gottfried returned three players from last season, lost to N.C. Central at the beginning of the year and still managed to bring his team this far. N.C. State routed Wake Forest prior to the Syracuse loss, as T.J. Warren scored 34 points on 15-of-26 shooting. He's a star right now. The Wolfpack's RPI rank sits at No. 51. They should make the tournament.
7. Maryland (14-12, 6-7) - The aforementioned final shot from Charles Mitchell hung on the rim forever but ultimately rolled out to make it a two-loss week for Maryland. The Terrapins had a chance to make some noise with matchups against the Cavaliers and Blue Devils; nothing came of that hope. Dez Wells didn't score a single point in the first half against Duke. Three-point shooting has been abysmal for the whole team. Now Maryland is staring down five games remaining with Virginia and Syracuse left on the schedule.
8. Clemson (15-9, 6-6) - The Tigers continue riding the roller coaster that is their 2013-14 season. They've lost three straight including a recent double-overtime defeat against Notre Dame. K.J. McDaniels scored 30 against the Irish. He added another 24 points against Virginia on Saturday, but the next highest scorer from Clemson finished with...seven points. It's the same story every week. McDaniels is a one-man show on offense. With six games to go, Clemson could easily win the next five against mediocre/subpar ACC opponents. But it probably won't without another reliable scorer.
9. Florida State (15-11, 6-8) - Welcome back, Ian Miller. The senior guard returned from an ankle injury last week and went off for 25 points with five 3's against Wake Forest Saturday night. Think the Seminoles are happy to see him again? Florida State did drop a game against Miami, though, so it's not all good news coming out of Tallahassee. Turnovers are hurting lately, as the Seminoles committed 26 in those two matchups. But Miller's return is a major plus, as he brings a legitimate outside threat to the floor.
10. Notre Dame (14-12, 5-8) - Notre Dame had a great week, picking up wins over Clemson and Boston College. The Irish needed two overtime periods to beat the Tigers, but they were in control most of the way. Freshman guard Steve Vasturia was the unlikely hero, hitting two 3's in the second overtime to seal the deal. Another odd aspect from the two wins was the fact that leading scorer Garrick Sherman shot 6-of-18 and scored 14 points in those games. Maybe the team is growing around him after all.
11. Georgia Tech (13-12, 4-8) - Who says the games between the bottom half of the conference aren't fun to watch? Marcus Georges-Hunt hit a three right before the buzzer to lift the Yellow Jackets over the Boston College Eagles. Daniel Miller led the team with 18 points. Georgia Tech still let Boston College shoot over 50 percent from the floor, but that ending makes up for it.
12. Wake Forest (14-11, 4-8) - Now riding a five-game skid, Wake Forest dropped games to N.C. State and Florida State. The Demon Deacons shot 51.1 percent from the floor on the road in Raleigh. How did they lose by 15? Hitting 14-of-31 free throws might explain some of their woes. They also led the Seminoles 29-23 at halftime on Saturday before coming apart down the stretch. Wake Forest might win two of its last six games; that's about the nicest thing we can say.
13. Miami (12-13, 3-9) - Nice job, Hurricanes. You picked up a win on the road against Florida State. How are things going since then? Oh, just throw in a seven-point loss to the worst team in the ACC. Miami scored 15 points in the first half against Virginia Tech. Fifteen. I wonder how the Hurricanes could possibly be the worst scoring team in the conference. They shot 26 percent from the floor for the entire game and made 7-of-34 3-point attempts. Sure, just keep chuckin' away from downtown. It's not like it matters anymore.
14) Boston College (6-19, 2-10) - The Eagles keep proving they're actually a decent offensive team. They rank No. 8 in field-goal percentage, No. 4 in three-point shooting and No. 2 at the free throw line. But when you give up 74.5 points per game and let your opponents shoot 47 percent from the floor, you're not winning often. It looked like Olivier Hanlan won the game with his baseline jumper to put the Eagles up 71-70 over the Yellow Jackets. Hanlan scored a combined 39 points in losses to Tech and Notre Dame over the last week. He's been fun to watch.
15) Virginia Tech (9-15, 2-10) - Its only game of the past week was a win, so this will be the most positive review we've seen about the Hokies. They didn't play great against the Hurricanes, but they shot 40 percent from beyond the arc (which is far better than we're used to seeing), and they figured out a way to put a curse on Miami's basket to prevent it from scoring. Well done. Boston College is still the better team.