Does the Atlantic Coast Conference possess the strongest collective group of teams in college basketball this season?

That can’t be answered, definitively, until March.

But, after the first 10 days of the 2014-15 season, there are five teams from the conference – North Carolina, Virginia, Duke, Louisville and Miami – in the first Power 16 ratings.

Sitting atop the ratings – be prepared to be shocked – are the Kentucky Wildcats, whose 5-0 start includes an average winning margin of 34.6 points.

Here are some averages in that start that are maybe just as amazing: The Wildcats are shooting just .467 from the field, including .303 from behind the arc.

No.’s 3 (Wisconsin) and 6 (North Carolina) are in the Bahamas this week, while No.’s 2 (Arizona) and 14 (San Diego State) are on their own collision course in Maui.

No. 4 Gonzaga started out the year far too low on the polls and could be the best shooting team in the nation.

1. Kentucky
Games in the next month with Providence, Texas, North Carolina, UCLA and Louisville will provide a better gauge as to just how good this team is going into the 2015 portion of the season.
2. Arizona
The Wildcats will get a taste of the Midwest (Missouri and Kansas State or Purdue) in their first two days in Lahaina. And then it’s a likely 2014 West Regional semifinal rematch with San Diego State for the Maui Classic championship Wednesday night.
3. Wisconsin
The Badgers could play No. 5 UNC on Friday and will play No. 7 Duke on Dec. 3 – and in Madison, too!
4. Gonzaga
Raise your hand if you’ve heard or read this before: “This is the best team Mark Few has coached”. And, you know what? This team may be the one that goes to the Final Four – finally.
5. Texas
No Isaiah Taylor against Cal? It’s no problem as Javan Felix and Longhorns don’t miss a beat.
6. North Carolina
The Tar Heels have a whole lot of guys who can score a lot of points in a lot of different ways. They’ll be put to good use in the Bahamas this week.
7. Duke
Furman and Army provide the “pre-Wisconsin game” tune-ups.
8. Virginia
Until further notice, this team will make trying to score against it like a visit with an IRS auditor.
9. Iowa State
Until Kansas rounds into shape, at least, the Cyclones and the Texas Longhorns are the best in the Big 12.
10. Louisville
The Cardinals would likely be favored to win its old (American) conference title. In the ACC they might prove to be the fifth or sixth best this season.
11. Wichita St.
A Dec. 3 game with Utah in Salt Lake City should help quell the “but their schedule sucks!” rhetoric that will build again if the Shockers are unbeaten very deep into the season.
12. Ohio State
I’ve got to pick at least one other Big 10 team for now although none of them (minus Michigan State’s game with Duke) has played a compelling scheduled as of yet.
13. Villanova
Monday night highlight “Villanova vs. VCU”. Sweet, indeed!
14. San Diego St.
A “Mountain West reunion” game with BYU on tap in Lahaina Monday night for the Aztecs.
15. VCU

Not to get too far ahead of ourselves but . . . Dec. 6 at home to the University of Virginia. Sweet, indeed, Part II!

16. Miami
Yes, I would suggest that the additions of transfers Angel Rodriguez and Sheldon McClellan have made quite an impact on the Hurricanes’ early-season fortunes.

ON THE CUSP: Connecticut 3-1, Kansas 1-1, Northern Iowa 4-0, Notre Dame 4-1, Ohio State 3-0, Providence 5-0, Stanford 3-1, West Virginia 5-0 and Xavier 3-0.

PLAYERS OF THE WEEK (or, more accurately, the first 10 days of the season)

Angel Rodriguez (Miami): His PG play – and jump shooting – helped the Hurricanes win at Florida and then polish off Drexel, Akron and Charlotte by an average of 19 points in Charleston.

Kevin Pangos (Gonzaga): How are these for PG numbers over four games: 10.3 points and 5.8 assists per game and ZERO turnovers in 95 minutes?

LaDontae Henton (Providence): The 6-6 senior averaged 23.4 points and 5.8 rebounds during a 5-0 start that includes wins over Florida State and Notre Dame.

Jonathan Holmes (Texas): Holmes, a 6-8, 240-pound senior, averaged 20.0 points – hitting 13 of 23 shots from the field – and 8.0 rebounds in victories over Iowa and Cal.

Nigel Hayes (Wisconsin): The “neglected” member of college basketball’s best starting frontcourt averaged 15.3 points and 9.8 rebounds during the Badgers’ 4-0 start.

Frank Burlison has been covering hoops for 30+ years for a variety of publications.

Follow Frank on twitter @FrankieBur. Also make sure to follow his website at College coaching staffs interested in Burlison’s scouting service should contact him at [email protected]



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