Let’s get going with this week’s ACC Basketball Power Rankings — with a detailed look at Louisville’s offense, Florida State’s dynamic duo and some quick numbers regarding Cole Anthony since his return to North Carolina’s lineup.
No. 1 Louisville
The offensive performance Louisville put forth against Virginia is another feather in this team’s cap: 1.36 points per possession. This marks just the fourth time under Tony Bennett that Virginia — an annual defensive juggernaut — has allowed more than 1.3 points per possession in a single game. (It’s the first time since since December 2013 that this has happened, too.)
Virginia: 73@JordanNwora led the Cards to a hard-fought win with 2⃣2⃣ points!#GoCards #ACCMBB pic.twitter.com/COIPOgtRiF
— ACC Digital Network (@theACCDN) February 8, 2020
Jordan Nwora was wonderfully efficient in this game. The junior sniper scored 22 points on 16 true shooting attempts (4-of-8 3PA) and failed to record a single turnover. As a team, Louisville turned the ball over just six times — a turnover rate of 10.2 percent. The win over Virginia was just the seventh time since the 2007-08 season that Louisville has posted a turnover rate under 12 percent and an effective shooting rate of at least 60 percent.
Also, David Johnson continued to do his thing: with five more assists against Virginia, he now has a 39 percent assist rate in ACC play. Johnson is very, very good.
No. 2 Duke
Duke just continues to respond when called upon. Over the last two weeks, the Blue Devils have won five straight games — including three consecutive on the road: Syracuse, Boston College and North Carolina — which was punctuated by Monday’s win over a top-10 Florida State squad. The win against FSU came a mere 48 hours after Duke’s emotional overtime victory at UNC. That’s remarkable stuff.
As usual, Duke’s versatility was on display: in the wins over BC, UNC and FSU, Mike Krzyzewski has downsized, at times. Duke has played extended minutes without either of its power forwards — Matthew Hurt and Jack White — on the floor. The smaller lineups have worked.
HAVE A NIGHT J GOLD
🔒 13 points (career high)
🔒 5-5 FG (3-3 3pt)@j_gold11 pic.twitter.com/nI58Na6REg
— Duke Men’s Basketball (@DukeMBB) February 11, 2020
Instead Coach K chose to surround Vernon Carey Jr. with four guards/wings, which cleared the lane (some) for drives and pick-and-roll. Hurt is obviously an excellent floor-spacer, but he doesn’t have the same quick-drive game as Tre Jones, Cassius Stanley, Wendell Moore Jr. and Jordan Goldwire. (When VCJ fouled out with 4:16 left to play in regulation against UNC, Duke played the final 9:16 of that game with no true bigs on the floor.)
What a game from Tre Jones vs. UNC. Outside of the late-game heroics — wasn't his best shooting night, especially out of screen-roll, but 42 mins, 30% usage, 3 TOV (credited for 2 TOV), 3 steals, 9 FTA. Excellent isolation + transition, an (unofficial) look at those numbers pic.twitter.com/OKNrTdEqFB
— Brian Geisinger (@bgeis_bird) February 9, 2020
Speaking of Goldwire, man, he just continues to play great basketball. And after a lackluster performance at UNC, Hurt put together a strong effort in the win over FSU: 12 points (2-of-3 3PA, 6-of-6 FTA) and one monster offensive rebound.
Here’s the weirdest of Duke basketball stats from this very weird ACC basketball season:
Duke has 7 games left. None are against top 50 Kenpom teams.
— Ben Swain (@TheBenSwain) February 11, 2020
No. 3 Florida State
After Florida State’s best offensive performance of the ACC schedule — 1.26 points per possession in a win over Miami — the Seminoles struggled offensively against Duke: 0.92 points per possession (40.2 eFG%). Duke’s half-court defense, which has been brilliant all season, put the clamps on FSU; Devin Vassell, normally brilliant and ruthlessly efficient, required 14 field goal attempts (4-of-12 2PA) to get his 14 points. As a team, FSU shot just 3-of-18 on 3-point attempts.
Despite all of that, Florida State was inches away from a road win over a top-10 Duke team. With Vassell and Trent Forrest, Leonard Hamilton — at the crest of his switch-happy defense — has the two best defenders in the ACC. (Or at least two of the top three, factoring in Tre Jones, too.) In total, FSU forced 21 Duke turnovers, including eight steals from Forrest.
FSU vs. Duke: stocks
Trent Forrest: 9 (8 steals)
Devin Vassell: 4 (2 steals, 2 blocks)
Patrick Williams: 4 (3 steals)
In general, FSU did as good of a job as anyone has on VCJ, limiting deep post touches.
— Brian Geisinger (@bgeis_bird) February 11, 2020
Defensively, Forrest was everywhere in Durham — switching 1-5 and helping wherever needed. Vassell and Forrest give this FSU squad two of the most dangerous help defenders in the country. Those dudes will fly in with weak-side help to block shots or just rip the ball right out of your hands. It’s absolutely wild to watch.
Vassell even got in the post and batted with VCJ. Florida State did as well as any team has this season in limiting deep post touches for Carey — front the post, rotate back side.
No. 4 Virginia
Let’s start with the good news, first: going up against Louisville, a solid defensive team, Virginia had its most efficient offensive performance of the season: 1.24 points per possession (11-of-22 3PA). In fact, it marks the first time UVA scored better than 1.2 points per possession since the 2019 title game against Texas Tech.
Who leads the #ACC in zone-by-zone shooting? (min 0.8 shots/game/zone)
On this plot you can see Markell, CJ Bryce, and Tre Jones pull-ups; Vernon Carey’s lefty finishing; Cole’s distance+drive; Diakite’s touch; and some dangerous deep snipers
h/t to @bgeis_bird for the analysis pic.twitter.com/y5dEwMc0Vn
— Fifth Factor Plots (@5th_Factor) February 10, 2020
Now, the bad news: despite the scoring surge, Virginia allowed Louisville to score 1.36 points per possession. This was just the third time all season that an opponent has scored better than 1.1 points per possession against Virginia.
No. 5 Syracuse
After consecutive losses to Clemson (a one-point affair) and Duke (a competitively fun Saturday night match-up), Syracuse avoided what could’ve been a disaster with a two-point win over Wake Forest, after a week off.
As the months move along, Quincy Guerrier has put together a nice freshman season, especially in ACC play. Guerrier was impactful against Wake Forest: 13 points (7-of-8 FTA), two blocks and three offensive rebounds.
In conference play, Guerrier ranks top 10 in the ACC in offensive rebound rate (10.9 percent) and 2-point shooting percentage (62.5 2P%). He’s also blocked 1.5 shots per 40 minutes in league action as well.
I don’t think it can be overstated just how much Quincy Guerrier’s progress has helped turn things around the last couple weeks.
— OttosGrove.com 🍊 (@OttosGrove) January 23, 2020
Guerrier has a tendency to get in foul trouble — committing 5.8 fouls per 40 minutes this season — but he also creates a lot of contact. The native on Montreal has drawn four fouls per 40 minutes in ACC play, where he’s shooting 80 percent from the line.
No. 6 NC State
It wasn’t the prettiest of victories on the road in Miami (sans Jericole Hellems), but after three straight losses: a win’s a win, right? The Wolfpack, who have stumbled some offensively in conference play, still managed to score 1.1 points per possession — with Markell Johnson leading the way, along with Braxton Beverly.
This may have been Beverly’s finest game of the season: 14 points, 4-of-7 from 3-point range. However, Johnson was the man with plan — knifing to the rim again and again. NC State shot 17-of-22 at the rim (77.3 FG%), with Johnson leading the way: 6-of-9 around the hoop. As usual, pick-and-roll volume between Johnson and DJ Funderburk or Manny Bates was high.
One 6-min stretch of the 1st half after Bates sat (14:08), before Funderburk got hurt (8:09), NC State: 12 possessions, DJ on + Bates off, including 11 in the half court (1 TOV transition)
All 11 involved a Funderburk ball screen, including 8 PnR 1-5 possessions Markell + DJ
— Brian Geisinger (@bgeis_bird) February 7, 2020
No. 7 Notre Dame
T.J. Gibbs has been an absolute beast for Notre Dame this season. The senior guard continues to excel as one of the top spot-up artisans in the country. Gibbs is one of only four ACC players with at least 50 3-pointers who is also shooting above 40 percent on 3-point looks, too — along with Nwora, Ryan McMahon and Buddy Boeheim. Of that small group, Gibbs has the highest assist rate (18.4 percent) and ranks just behind Boeheim in turnover rate (10.7 percent).
During league play, Gibbs has been on fire: 32-of-64 on 3-point attempts (50 3P%, No. 2 in the ACC), 36-of-62 on 2-point attempts (58.1 2P%, No. 12 in the ACC) and 37-of-41 on free throw attempts (90.2 FT%, No. 1 in the ACC).
TJ Gibbs is unreal from three in ACC play. What a senior year he's shaping up to have.
9-5 ND at the first media timeout
— One Foot Down (@OneFootDown) February 9, 2020
Gibbs is playing the best basketball of his career while enjoying a role that’s similar to what he had as a sophomore — playing next to point guard Matt Farrell. Through 12 conference games, per KenPom, Gibbs ranks first in the offensive rating, effective shooting (66.7 eFG%) and true shooting (70.5 TS%).
Among ACC players with at least 50 catch-and-shoot attempts this season, Gibbs ranks third in efficiency — 1.38 points per possession, 69.1 eFG% — behind only Jalen Cone and Nwora, according to Synergy.
No. 8 Pittsburgh
Justin Champagnie is in the midst of assembling an All-Freshman team season for Pittsburgh. Last week, Champagnie dropped 20 points and 11 rebounds (four offensive) in a loss to Notre Dame; he then followed that up with 30 points and nine rebounds, all of which were necessary, in a close win over Georgia Tech.
Pitt's Justin Champagnie dunks against Georgia Tech Saturday at Petersen Events Center. He finished with 30 points as his team goes on to win, 73-64. pic.twitter.com/Bk2NHquKYH
— Matt Freed (@mattfreedpghpg) February 8, 2020
Champagnie currently averages 12.6 points on 52.2 percent true shooting. The freshman forward is shooting just under 65 percent at the rim and leads Pitt with 18 dunks.
No. 9 Virginia Tech
Um, what’s going on here, you guys? The Hokies have dropped five straight and continue to suffer from a power outage on offense. Only once in the last five games has Virginia Tech — 100.3 points per 100 possessions against Boston College — broken the one point per possession barrier. Currently, Virginia Tech ranks 12th in offensive efficiency during conference play.
Before the season, if you told Virginia Tech fans that — come mid-February — the Hokies would be 14-10, with five ACC victories, that group of people likely would’ve been reasonably pleased. However, the last two weeks are a disappointing backslide, including two losses to Boston College.
Both #Hokies Landers Nolley and Tyrece Radford – two redshirt freshmen – after a frustrating overtime loss, the team's fifth straight defeat, came back out a second time to speak with reporters who had missed them initially. That's first class.
— Mike Barber (@RTD_MikeBarber) February 8, 2020
No. 10 Clemson
No Aamir Simms (flu) was a tough blow for Clemson on Sunday against Notre Dame; the loss that followed was another tough blow, too. The Tigers have dropped three straight games — in each contest they’ve scored under one point per possession, with the nadir coming against Wake Forest: 0.68 points per possession (33.9 eFG%).
Save for Louisville next Saturday, though, Clemson has some winnable games on the horizon.
No. 11 North Carolina
What could’ve been: that’s the story in Chapel Hill. A likely lost season received a glimmer of hope when — after back-to-back wins over Miami and NC State — Cole Anthony announced his return. Well, since then, UNC dropped three straight games, all by six or fewer points, including Saturday’s memorable overtime defeat to Duke.
Anthony really does have the ability to be special; and with a 2020 draft that projects to be underwhelming, he will still go high. Anthony can create his own shot; there’s some pull-up variety to his game, and has moments in the pick-and-roll when his full play-making capabilities seem fully engaged.
On defense, he can be darn good at times, too. For whatever it’s worth, he’s a solid defensive rebounder as well.
When possessions are at a premium, turnovers are just brutal pic.twitter.com/Avd5INAKC5
— Dadgum Box Scores (@dadgumboxscores) February 9, 2020
However, Anthony finished the Duke game with a couple head-scratching decisions. In the three games since his return, Anthony has averaged 22 points per contest, but on 32.1 percent (27.3 3P%) shooting. With Anthony running the show, UNC scored under one points per possession against BC (0.97) and FSU (0.84), and barely cracked that mark against Duke (1.03). (Of course, those are three good defenses.)
For the season now, Anthony is shooting under 41 percent at the rim.
No. 12 Georgia Tech
There are currently five players in the ACC this season with 25+ dunks and a block rate of at least five percent: Vernon Carey Jr., Manny Bates, Jay Huff, Juwan Durham and James Banks.
Banks, unfortunately, struggled in the loss to Pittsburgh: seven points (1-of-5 FTA), four turnovers and five fouls. The veteran big did, however, block three shots and collect four offensive rebounds.
No. 13 Boston College
Man, this Boston College squad is vexing. The Eagles rank last among all ACC teams in prominent adjusted efficiency models, like KenPom and Bart Torvik. Those same Eagles, however, have six ACC wins (all by severn or fewer points) on the season and are just a game under .500 in league play. Boston College also gave Duke all it could ask for last week, too.
No. 14 Miami
Operating with a limited rotation, Miami has played some competitive basketball this season; however, largely because of their defense, the Hurricanes don’t have enough sustain play over 40 minutes and win games in the ACC. That was the story of Miami a season ago, and it has continued in the 2019-20 campaign.
That said, as frustrating as times have been, Jim Larranaga must be encouraged by the play of freshman guards Isaiah Wong and Harlond Beverly. Over the last five games, Beverly has averaged 13.4 points (50 2P%) while demonstrating an ability to create for his teammates — 17.6 percent assist rate — and get to the free throw line (5.2 FTA per game). Beverly loves to put pressure on the rim.
Wong has caught a vibe as well. Over the same five-game stretch, Wong has averaged 15.8 points (56.8 FG%, 57.1 3P%) while flashing some serious shot-making skills, too.
No. 15 Wake Forest
Wake Forest was this close to putting together a masterful week. That’s been the story far too often for the last decade, though. Wake Forest took a 12-point lead into the half against Louisville, but faltered on the road, losing 86-76.
Then on Saturday against Syracuse, Wake Forest flipped roles — trailing at halftime and storming back over the final 20 minutes — but landed the same result: a close road loss in conference play.
Despite the defeats, Olivier Sarr played good basketball — combining for 31 points (6-of-7 FGA at the rim), 18 free throw attempts (15-of-18 FTA) and nine offensive rebounds in those two games.
|David Glenn||Brian Geisinger||Josh Graham||Consensus|
|3||Florida State||Florida State||Florida State||Florida State|
|6||NC State||NC State||NC State||NC State|
|7||Notre Dame||Notre Dame||Notre Dame||Notre Dame|
|9||Virginia Tech||Virginia Tech||Virginia Tech||Virginia Tech|
|12||Georgia Tech||Clemson||Georgia Tech||Georgia Tech|
|13||Boston College||Boston College||UNC||Boston College|
|15||Miami||Wake Forest||Wake Forest||Wake Forest|