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ACC men's basketball power rankings: Duke holds down top spot, surprise teams climb amid conference chaos

<p>Duke leads this week's Power Rankings as our beat writers' unanimous top choice.</p>

Duke leads this week's Power Rankings as our beat writers' unanimous top choice.

With nothing but ACC games from now until March, our beats are here with another installment of The Chronicle's Power Rankings of each team vying for the ACC crown:

1. Duke (10-1)

Previous ranking: 1 // Average ranking: 1.0

I’m sure this one is shocking. The Blue Devils haven’t faced a quality opponent since their loss at Ohio State, but it doesn’t matter—they’ve shown thus far that they’re probably the only true contender out of the ACC this season (and perhaps will be the conference’s only NCAA tournament team). Anything short of the program’s first ACC regular-season title since 2010 has to be considered a disappointment at this point. -Evan Kolin

2. Wake Forest (11-1)

Previous ranking: 9 // Average ranking: 3.0

They started ranked 13th in the preseason ACC poll. We had them at ninth a few weeks ago. This week, the Demon Deacons are one of two ACC teams remaining to have only suffered one loss—and that one loss was against LSU, the No. 3 team in the nation according to the NET rankings. Star guard Alondes Williams is giving Duke’s Wendell Moore Jr. a run for his money in the race for the most ridiculous stat line with averages of 21.0 points, 6.6 rebounds and 4.9 assists, and Wake Forest handled its nonconference schedule in a manner few other ACC teams could, despite close calls with VMI and Charlotte last week. The unranked Demon Deacons are on a five-game win streak and are rolling into the true conference season. -Micah Hurewitz

3. North Carolina (8-3)

Previous ranking: 3 // Average ranking: 3.1

North Carolina is an interesting team, because by all accounts, the Blue Blood program is underperforming, yet is still one of the best ACC teams. It came into the season with a preseason No. 19 ranking, but by the third week of the season it was out of the rankings completely. With their history and roster, the Tar Heels should be making a case for the top spot in these rankings and are simply not. North Carolina got embarrassed by Kentucky 98-69 in the CBS Sports Classic, a game that was supposed to be a marquee matchup between powerhouse teams. Its other two losses, against ranked opponents Tennessee and Purdue, weren’t particularly close either, and its only ranked win came against Michigan, another team that is massively underperforming and has since fallen out of the rankings. With this kind of season baggage, it just doesn’t make sense to rank them above an 11-1 up-and-comer like Wake Forest. -Sasha Richie

4. Virginia Tech (8-4)

Previous ranking: 2 // Average ranking: 6.3

It hasn’t been the smoothest few weeks for the Hokies, who fell into a funk after their first loss of the season against Memphis, losing four of six. But head coach Mike Young’s squad bounced back in a big way last time out, trouncing a good St. Bonaventure team at the Hall of Fame Shootout behind sparkling shooting nights from starting guards Storm Murphy and Hunter Cattoor. In a season that has been most unkind to nearly all of the preseason conference favorites, Virginia Tech still feels like a safe bet to contend in the ACC, even after a lukewarm start.

Still, the Hokies don’t appear to have the highest ceiling, dropping both contests against ranked teams thus far. They’ll get a chance to prove me wrong Wednesday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium, but for now, this Virginia Tech team feels as if it should hover around this spot all the way until March. -Jonathan Levitan

5. Miami (8-3)

Previous ranking: 13 // Average ranking: 6.6

Really? Is Miami a top-five team in the ACC? With the ACC looking as weak as ever, it just might be. The Hurricanes’ 8-3 record is the conference’s third-best mark, and they have not suffered too embarrassing a loss this month. Miami rides a four-game winning streak, in which it took down Clemson in its first ACC game of the season. Miami is likely to slip down this list as conference play ramps up in the coming weeks—it was picked to finish 12th in the preseason media poll—but for now, sixth-year player Kameron McGusty has helped extend Hurricane season to December. -Glen Morgenstern

Complete rankings:

1. Duke (PR: 1 // AR: 1.0)

2. Wake Forest (PR: 9 // AR: 3.0)

3. North Carolina (PR: 3 // AR: 3.1)

4. Virginia Tech (PR: 2 // AR: 6.3)

5. Miami (PR: 13 // AR: 6.6)

6. Louisville (PR: 5 // AR: 7.0)

7. Clemson (PR: 10 // AR: 7.5)

8. N.C. State (PR: 7 // AR: 7.6)

9. Virginia (PR: 6 // AR: 8.1)

10. Florida State (PR: 4 // AR: 8.6)

11. Syracuse (PR: 11 // AR: 9.1)

12. Notre Dame (PR: 12 // AR: 11.3)

13. Georgia Tech (PR: 8 // AR: 12.9)

14. Boston College (PR: 14 // AR: 13.0)

15. Pittsburgh (PR: 15 // AR: 14.9)

Take a look at last week's Power Rankings here.

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