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ACC men's basketball power rankings: Duke stays at No. 1, Wake Forest climbs as regular season nears conclusion

Duke pushed its winning streak to four games with victories against Wake Forest and Florida State.
Duke pushed its winning streak to four games with victories against Wake Forest and Florida State.

With the regular season nearing its exciting conclusion, our beats are here with another installment of The Chronicle's Power Rankings of each team vying for the ACC crown.

1. Duke (23-4, 13-3)

Previous ranking: 1 // Average ranking: 1.0

This past week, Duke extended its winning streak to four and took a one-game lead for the top spot in the ACC standings. Freshman Trevor Keels returned to the starting lineup for the first time in nearly a month against Wake Forest Tuesday night, but it was center Mark Williams who slammed home the putback winner with under a second to play to give the Blue Devils the go-ahead basket. A full-court heave from Wake Forest's Damari Monsanto nearly rattled home, but instead, No. 9 Duke walked away with a narrow victory. Saturday night saw the Blue Devils return to their dominant ways, as Duke shattered a brittle Florida State squad in head coach Mike Krzyzewski’s penultimate game at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Devils have a chance to avenge their previous loss to Virginia this week and a Saturday contest against Syracuse. -Glen Morgenstern

2. Wake Forest (21-7, 11-6)

Previous ranking: 5 // Average ranking: 2.5

They are not quite a lock to make the Big Dance, but after Saturday’s thrilling five-point win against Notre Dame, the Demon Deacons are right on the cusp of wrapping up a bid. In terms of KenPom, Wake Forest is in a peculiar spot at 31st—mid-major force Murray State and underachieving Michigan sandwich head coach Steve Forbes’ program—but it is clear that the duo of Alondes Williams and Jake LaRavia is one of the best in the conference. Plus, the Tuesday heartbreaker in Cameron Indoor Stadium and the aforementioned victory against Notre Dame were easily the most difficult contests left for the Demon Deacons until the postseason. Wake Forest ends with Clemson, Louisville and N.C. State. -Max Rego

3. Notre Dame (19-8, 12-4)

Previous ranking: 2 // Average ranking: 3.3

After surviving an overtime scare at home against a free-falling Boston College squad, Notre Dame finally saw its five-game winning streak come to an end Saturday, dropping a high-stakes battle at Wake Forest 79-74. With the loss, the Fighting Irish fell out of a tie for first place in the ACC with Duke with just four regular-season games remaining. Still, this Notre Dame team—which got a career-high six 3-pointers from star freshman Blake Wesley against Wake Forest—looks ready to contend in the conference tournament next month. -Jonathan Levitan

4. Virginia (17-10, 11-6)

Previous ranking: 4 // Average ranking: 4.3

Virginia, which has won five of its last six, is surging at the right time with the postseason on the horizon. Still, it opened its week by laying an egg against Virginia Tech. While the Hokies have somewhat sneakily posted just one loss in the month of February, the Cavaliers losing by nine after beating Duke and Miami was a bit of a head-scratcher. However, they finished their week strong by beating Miami again, and they’ll get a second run at Duke Wednesday in Charlottesville, Va. Virginia is currently on the bubble for the NCAA tournament, but with just three games left including their dance with the Devils, it may be too late for the Cavaliers unless they can pull off a strong ACC tournament showing. That’s not impossible—never count out head coach Tony Bennett’s squad—but they have a steep hill to climb if they want their recent run to not be for naught. -Sasha Richie

5. Miami (19-8, 11-5)

Previous ranking: 3 // Average ranking: 4.8

After controlling the first half against Virginia at home and jumping out to a double-digit lead in the opening moments of the second half, the Hurricanes let the red-hot Cavaliers storm back for the win, effectively ending the dream of a regular-season conference title in Coral Gables, Fla. Head coach Jim Larrañaga’s squad appears to be firmly in the prospective March Madness field, though, and with a somewhat-favorable final stretch to the regular season, looks poised to lock up a top-four seed and double bye at March’s conference tournament in Brooklyn, N.Y. -Levitan

Complete rankings:

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

2. Wake Forest (PR: 5 // AR: 2.5)

3. Notre Dame (PR: 2 // AR: 3.3)

4. Virginia (PR: 4 // AR: 4.3)

5. Miami (PR: 3 // AR: 4.8)

6. North Carolina (PR: 6 // AR: 6.0)

7. Virginia Tech (PR: 7 // AR: 6.4)

8. Syracuse (PR: 8 // AR: 8.0)

9. Louisville (PR: 11 // AR: 9.8)

10. Florida State (PR: 9 // AR: 10.6)

11. Pittsburgh (PR: 13 // AR: 11.8)

12. Clemson (PR: 10 // AR: 12.4)

13. N.C. State (PR: 15 // AR: 12.5)

14. Georgia Tech (PR: 12 // AR: 12.6)

15. Boston College (PR: 14 // AR: 14.3)

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

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