Each week The Chronicle will take a look at the ACC Women’s Basketball standings and update you on who is in position to win the Atlantic Coast Conference regular season crown. Here is the ACC standings as of today:
1. Duke (20-1, 10-0); 2. Maryland (18-3, 9-1); 3. North Carolina (21-3, 9-2); 4. Florida State (18-4, 8-3); 5. Virginia (14-7, 6-4); 6. Miami (16-7, 7-5); 7.Wake Forest (10-12, 3-7) 8. North Carolina State (11-12, 3-8); 9. Georgia Tech (10-12, 3-8); 10. Boston College (9-13, 3-8); 11. Clemson (6-16, 2-9); 12. Virginia Tech (7-14, 1-9).
Can Duke hold the 1 seed?
No. 5 Duke proved that it had the skill and determination to compete with a top ACC opponent in rival No. 16 North Carolina. Easily handling the pressure from the Tar Heels proficient offense, the Blue Devils now return home, where they have yet to lose a game this season to face No. 7 Maryland. With a full lineup, Duke has found scoring throughout the lineup depending on the game. Against Carolina, it was the play of guard Chloe Wells that carried the Blue Devils, but against other opponents players like Chelsea Gray and Tricia Liston have made big impacts in Duke’s play on the court. The question will be developing the kind of consistent intensity to compete with the other top-five women’s squads in the country.
Maryland will be a major test for Duke in hitting the final stretch of regular season play. The Terrapins have lost two games this season to No. 4 Connecticut and North Carolina. Unlike Duke, Maryland was able to compete with Connecticut at a higher level losing by merely 15 points, half of the margin Duke lost to the Huskies by. Maryland’s lone ACC loss against North Carolina was a very close game with the final margin only three points. Any doubts regarding Duke’s position in the league would be dispelled with a victory against Maryland. If the Blue Devils can prove that they are the undisputed ACC champions with a win, then the prospects for an ACC and National Championship run are much brighter.
Will Maryland make a run for the ACC title?
Monday’s matchup at Cameron Indoor Stadium between No. 5 Duke and No. 7 Maryland will show which of the two top ACC teams is the superior squad. The question for the Terrapins is whether they can match the scoring ability of the Blue Devils who have depth at all positions. This gamer will not dictate, however, whether Maryland makes a serious bid for the ACC championship later in the season. The Terrapins will have an idea of where they stand in comparison to Duke after Monday’s game and may have improved enough to offer Duke its most imminent threat to reclaiming the title. The Blue Devils will need to have a season-defining victory against Maryland Monday in order to quell any rumors that the Terrapins can seriously challenge them on the court. Any confidence Duke allows Maryland to have increases the chances of the Terrapins holding the ACC championship trophy come the end of the season.
Can North Carolina hold the No. 3 spot in the ACC?
The Tar Heels began their toughest four-game stretch of the season on Jan. 24 with a 26-point loss to Maryland and then barely held on for a two-point win over an average Miami team. North Carolina bounced back with a ten-point victory against then No. 20 Florida State, but fell short in effort and scoring against Duke losing by 21. The question remains with one more game against No. 19 Florida State and No. 5 Duke, can the Tar Heels hold onto the third spot in the ACC?
After such a rough stretch in the season as well as the continuous pressure to earn head coach Sylvia Hatchell her 900th career victory, North Carolina will need to regroup and gain some momentum over some of the worst ACC teams in Boston College, Wake Forest, and Georgia Tech before a Feb 17 matchup at Florida State that will largely determine what conference ranking the Tar Heels will have come the end of the season.
Upset Special: Miami over No. 19 Florida State
The Hurricanes have the ability to compete with a ranked ACC opponent, losing only by two points to then No. 11 North Carolina in late January. Though Miami fell to Florida State in the team’s matchup earlier this season, Miami may be able to pull out a win and move up into the top-five in the ACC. Expect that the Hurricanes will come out strong looking for a big upset because they have nothing to lose at this point in the season. Florida State is defending their ranking and may be caught off guard by the physicality and size of Miami.