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 are the ACC standings as of today:
1. Duke (23-1, 13-0); 2. North Carolina (23-3, 11-2); 3. Maryland (20-4, 11-2); 4. Florida State (19-5, 9-4); 5. Miami (16-8, 7-6); 6. Virginia (15-9, 7-6); 7. North Carolina State (13-12, 5-8) 8. Wake Forest (11-14, 4-9); 9. Boston College (10-14, 4-9); 10. Georgia Tech (10-14, 3-10); 11. Virginia Tech (8-16, 2-11); 12. Clemson (6-18, 2-11).
Driver's Seat: Duke
The Duke women gave themselves an inside track to the one seed this week, handing Maryland its second loss and then routing Virginia Tech by 44. In addition to an impressive backcourt lead by point guard Chelsea Gray, the team's post play is only improving as the season continues. Both Haley Peters and Elizabeth Williams posted 25-points and Peters double-doubled against the Hokies on Thursday. The Blue Devils have already beaten each of their five remaining conference opponents, so it's not unreasonable to examine their chances of running the table in conference play. The team's visit to College Park next sunday will likely be the toughest remaining obstacle to an undefeated ACC regular season. North Carolina is another top-15 team waiting in the wings—the Tar Heels will get a chance to avenge their 20-point home loss to Duke in early March.
Tar Heels Bounce Back
Since suffering a relatively one-sided defeat at the hands of Duke, North Carolina has responded with three wins—two of which were decided by 20+ points—against Boston College, Georgia Tech, and Wake Forest. The Tar Heels outrank all of their remaining opponents except for Duke, and a loss or two from the Blue Devils could make things very interesting come March third. Senior guard Tierra Ruffin-Pratt has been a slashing force for North Carolina, averaging 14.1 points per game. Freshman forward Xylina McDaniel has also proven to be a huge addition for the Tar Heels, averaging 12.4 points and 7.3 rebounds per game herself. As the regular season winds down, don't lose sight of Hall of Fame candidate head coach Sylvia Hatchell's dangerous squad.
Tournament Implications: In Search of the Bye
While it's always nice to be number one, each of the top four teams enjoy a day off during the first round of the ACC tournament. A first-round bye's significance can hardly be overstated; teams without the bye will face more rested and better—at least in rank—opponents. As things stand, Florida State (19-5, 9-4) holds the fourth seed, though both Miami (16-8, 7-6) and Virginia (15-9, 7-6) remain within closing distance of the Seminoles. The Hurricanes are 3-3 in their last six games, although their losses have come against good teams in Duke, North Carolina, and Florida State. The same cannot be said for the Cavaliers, whose February includes disappointing losses to both Boston College and Georgia Tech. Nevertheless, the Seminoles will have to face each of the ACC's top three teams once more, so both Miami and Virginia have a chance to right their respective ships and make a run for the fourth and final bye.
Upset Watch: Georgia Tech vs. Wake Forest
Despite an underwhelming 10-14 record, Georgia Tech has shown a propensity to play above their level at times this season. The Yellow Jackets have already upset both Virginia and Wake Forest and almost stunned North Carolina last Sunday in a 60-58 nail-biter. Junior Tyaunna Marshall and Dawnn Maye can be a threatening combination in the backcourt, combining for over 25 points per game. Look for the Yellow Jackets to play with pride next Thursday at Joel Coliseum and upset the Demon Deacons.