ACC Basketball Gets Off to an Uneven Start

College basketball has kicked off, and as college football comes to a close, more hype and anticipation is built for each and every game. College basketball’s popularity grew last year, increasing the average viewed game in the NCAA Tournament to 10.7 million, according to Statista. The Atlantic Coast Conference was prominent in the unfolding of the tournament, as they had three teams in the elite eight, Miami, Duke, and North Carolina. All eventually failing to complete the run for the National Championship. 

The Atlantic Coast (ACC) has in years past been very successful and dominant. Dating back to the 2018-2019 season for the ACC, they had 5 teams finish the season in the top 25, and 8 out of the 15 teams were ranked in the top 25 at some point during the season. Not to mention, they had the top three teams in the nation that year. Duke, Virginia, and UNC finished as the top three teams in the country, and eventually, all went on to be one seeds in the NCAA tournament, with Virginia being the eventual National Champion. 

The story this year, though, is how the ACC is bouncing back from such dominant years. There seems to be no true powerhouse in the ACC, and even in college basketball in general. No team is a standout. Only three teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference are ranked in the top 25, and none of them are even at the top of the ACC standings. Clemson leads with a 5-0 conference record, while Miami who is ranked at 12 in the AP rankings, follows at 4-1. The shocker of the year so far has to be Pittsburgh, as they are beating out Virginia (AP Rank – 11), Duke (AP Rank – 16), and UNC ( Ranked #1 to start the year) in the ACC standings at 4-1. Virginia, UNC and Duke all sit at 3-2 with big games approaching in conference play.

70% of home games are being won in conference play in the ACC. No team has been able to handle the pressure on the road, and nobody has been able to really separate themselves from the rest of the conference. This is a down year for the ACC, as it was last year. But the real hope for the ACC is that the conference finishes strong as they did last year in NCAA tournament play, which is approaching at a fast rate.

Discussion of some of the sneaky teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference has to be started with NC State. They have blown out Duke, competed with Kansas to the final buzzer, beat Virginia Tech, who was ranked before conference play, competed with Miami to the final buzzer, and has two star talents at the guard position. Wake Forest is also silently looking like one of the top teams in the ACC. They have beat Duke, nearly beat UNC, beat Wisconsin out of conference play, and has not lost to a team below .500 in conference play. They are in every game they have played all year. Finally, Virginia Tech. They have not lost a game in conference play by more than 5 points. They not only beat UNC, but they were one possession from beating Clemson, two from beating NC State, and one possession from beating Wake Forest. This team may look weak due to the 1-4 record, but this team will almost certainly go on a run. If they get hot, this team can boost to the top of the rankings in a very quick manner. The top 25 ranking before conference play started was no lie, just a start of the season slump. This team can compete with any team in the ACC.

The Atlantic Coast Conference has always been one of the most decorated conferences in the nation, no matter the sport. Every conference will go through down years, and every conference will go through great years. But not only the ACC seems to be in a slump, there is no powerhouse in the nation. Purdue, Houston, and Kansas are ranked one through three in the AP Rankings, and yet they have all been in close games all year and certainly seem beatable on any day. The NCAA tournament this year could be a wild ride, anybody can take it, and I don’t think it’ll be one of these top ranked teams.