ACC numbers don't lie as conference tourney nears - - Columbia, South Carolina

ACC numbers don't lie as conference tourney nears

The Miami Hurricanes vaulted to a No. 3 ranking this week in the Associated Press Top 25. (Source: ACC Digital Network) The Miami Hurricanes vaulted to a No. 3 ranking this week in the Associated Press Top 25. (Source: ACC Digital Network)

(RNN) - It's Duke, Miami and everyone else.

The Blue Devils (21-2, 8-2 ACC) and the Hurricanes (19-3, 10-0) find themselves ranked No. 2 and 3 respectively in the Associated Press poll released Monday.

While one back in the polls, Miami is in the position of power with a month left until the ACC tournament in Greensboro, NC, thanks to an undefeated record in conference play. It's rare that teams on Tobacco Road are looking up at the Hurricanes, or anyone else, in the standings.

Based on play through Tuesday, the conference can be broken into three different tiers.

Tier One: The two teams running the conference

1. Miami

2. Duke

Tier Two: The teams that could ruin it for the frontrunners

3. Virginia (18-6, 8-3)

4. North Carolina (16-7, 6-4)

5. North Carolina State (17-7, 6-5)

6. Florida State (13-10, 5-5)

7. Maryland (17-7, 5-6)

8. Clemson (12-11, 4-7)

Tier Three: The bottom (no nice way to put it)

9. Wake Forest (11-12, 4-7)

10. Georgia Tech (13-9, 3-7)

11. Boston College (10-13, 2-8)

12. Virginia Tech (11-13, 2-9)

Here are some ideas and storylines to consider for the week.

Hurri-kings: According to ESPN Stats and Information, Miami is the first team since ACC play began in 1953 to defeat Duke and UNC by 25 points or more in the same year. By trouncing UNC on Saturday, 87-61, the ‘Canes staked their claim as one of the nation's best teams.

It also helps they are in the top three teams in scoring defense and scoring margin.

Their best stat: 10-0 – the only undefeated conference record among all the major Division I schools.

Miami's success has garnered a No. 3 ranking for a team that had never been higher than No. 8 in the AP poll.

NC State, the dragon slayer slumping dark horse: The Wolfpack defeat of the Blue Devils in January seems like a distant memory. NC State is 3-5 since then and needed late game heroics Sunday against Clemson to end its three-game losing streak.

That doesn't mean it can't pull off a run to get in better position for tournament play.

The Wolfpack are five games behind first place in ACC play with eight games left to play and don't have Duke or Miami on the schedule again.

If any team can pull themselves from the middle of the pack, it's the Pack.

North Carolina is as middle of the pack as you can get. That isn't good for The Rivalry.

North Carolina is a young, talented team - they lead the conference in team scoring offense (78.3), assists (18.0), offensive rebounds (14.8) and steals (8.1).

On Wednesday, coach Roy Williams and UNC head to Durham to face their bitter rivals. Duke may be readying for the conference tournament and using UNC to do so.

Duke is an experienced, talented team. The Blue Devils are first in the ACC in average scoring margin, assist/turnover ratio and 3-point field goals made.

Stat of the week

A glaring stat that doesn't matter: Virginia Tech has the leading scorer in the nation, Erick Green at 25.3 ppg. The team around him is struggling though, and it is scraping the bottom of the ACC barrel.

ACC Play of the Week

Aside from Miami showing UNC who runs the ACC now, they had a superstar audience Saturday via Miami Heat stars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

MLB Hall of Fame member Barry Larkin is always there. His son, Shane Larkin, is the team's starting point guard.

The younger Larkin got his dad (and everyone else) on his feet with a backboard assist to teammate Kenny Kadji for the dunk.

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