By Ryan Decker
Year in and year out the Atlantic Coast Conference is regarded as the best conference in men’s college basketball.
During Tuesday’s episode of Moose-Talkas, I told our audience that even though I believe North Carolina (19-4) is the best team in the conference, Florida State (18-4) appears to be the most consistent team.
Just five days later, and neither of the two statements are true.
At the midway point in the college basketball season, the sport’s top conference is still looking for its true top team.
Maybe athletically, or on paper, the Tar Heels are still the best team in the ACC. And a team with a 19-4 record that currently sits as the conference leader would more times than not be considered the best team.
But the UNC’s season says otherwise.
The Tar Heels are also just 2-2 against ranked teams and are winless in the three games this year in which they’ve scored under 70 points. UNC also recently had to edge out the likes of Wake Forrest and Boston College in wins that Tar Heel fans would agree were too close for comfort.
Tony Bennett’s UVA (16-3) squad might not score as much as North Carolina, or other top teams around the nation, but the twelfth-ranked Cavaliers are 6-2 when scoring under 70 points. However, Virginia has won only one of its three contests in which it scored 69 or fewer points against a ranked opponent.
Those two losses were against West Virginia in December, and Florida State in early January, and both came on the Cavs’ home floor.
UVA’s defense could save them in a low-scoring affair, but the Cavs lack of offense will spell trouble if they get into a shoot out with a good offensive team.
Speaking of the Seminoles, Florida State has suffered three bad losses like the Tar Heels.
No. 6 FSU came out on the losing end early in the year against Temple, and then has lost each of its last two games – an embarrassing 22-point loss at Georgia Tech and then a 10-point loss in the Carrier Dome against Syracuse Saturday.
The Seminoles may be 6-1 against ranked opponents, but they are 1-3 in true road games, which isn’t a characteristic the truly good teams have, especially in the ACC.
Other teams near the top of the ACC have had troubles, and have showed signs of a lacking of consistency.
Notre Dame (17-5) started the year winning 16 of its first 18 games, but since have lost 3 of 4 and have not looked very good doing so.
Louisville (17-4) is just a .500 team against ranked opponents, winning four and losing four such games. The Cardinals have also struggled on the road, just winning 2 of 4 true road games.
Turmoil at Duke has also been well documented this year.
A lack of consistency at the top isn’t just a problem in the ACC this season. Major conferences such as the Big 12, Big Ten, and Pac-12 are also still looking to figure out who the best team is.
But at this point in the season in the ACC, we normally know by now, or at least have a pretty good idea.
This year, though, it’s anyone’s guess as to which team will become superior by season’s end.