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ACC update: The NC State Wolfpack climb into the top 10 after upset win

The No. 9 Virginia Tech Hokies, No. 10 NC State Wolfpack, No. 13 Florida State Seminoles and No. 17 Notre Dame Fighting Irish all have gotten off to strong starts.

Connecticut v NC State
Saniya Rivers, Mimi Collins, Madison Hayes and the NC State Wolfpack have entered the top 10 of the national rankings.
Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

Two weeks into the regular season, there already have been some exciting games and ACC teams that have exceeded expectations. Here is a look at how the ACC teams ranked in the top 20—No. 9 Virginia Tech, No. 10 NC State, No. 13 Florida State and No. 17 Notre Dame—have performed to start the season:

No. 9 Virginia Tech Hokies (3-1, 0-0 ACC)

Virginia Tech remains the highest-ranked ACC team despite losing to Iowa. It’s hard to punish them for losing to Caitlin Clark, who went for 44 points on the Hokies. Nonetheless, Virginia Tech’s Kitley-centric offense has yielded impressive results so far, a 127 offensive rating to be exact.

Virginia Tech loves to run flex cuts to get Kitley the ball on the low block and, because she demands so much attention, Georgia Amoore has benefited greatly from this action. Amoore is picking up right where she left off in the NCAA Tournament, averaging almost 19 points and nine assists. She makes the pick-and-roll with Kitley look so easy.

Next week, they will face off against the defending champions: the No. 7 LSU Lady Tigers. It will be interesting to see how the Hokies adjust to guarding the pick-and-roll, as Iowa was able to have some success putting Kitley in these actions. What better opportunity to silence the doubters than to go into Louisiana and upset the champs?

No. 10 North Carolina State Wolfpack (4-0, 0-0 ACC)

During my ACC preview, I listed NC State as a team that had the potential to upset one of the top teams in the country. Last week, they did exactly that, winning a thriller against then-No. 2 UConn, their first win against the Huskies since 1998.

Saniya Rivers was spectacular, scoring 33 points on 11-for-19 shooting. The Huskies could not stop Rivers in isolation; she was able to score at will and got to the free throw line 14 times. Her ability to get downhill and get to the line not only will benefit the Wolfpack late in games, but also in tournament play when offenses typically slow down.

The Wolfpack entered the regular season unranked and their win against UConn was the first time since December 2016 that NC State had a top-five win while unranked. In just over two weeks, the Wolfpack have gone from unranked to top 10 in the country—a phenomenal start!

No. 13 Florida State Seminoles (4-0, 0-0 ACC)

Florida State has had as great a start to the season as they could’ve imagined, with a win against then-No. 11 Tennessee followed by a late-game win at Florida. Compared to other ACC teams, the Seminoles have had a tougher schedule, but still have succeeded in going undefeated.

Tennessee was a huge test for Florida State to evaluate where they stand. The Lady Vols opened the game playing man-to-man defense, but the Seminoles simply played too fast for them; FSU scored effortlessly in transition and got crucial stops. Tennessee switched to 2-3 defense zone later in the first quarter, but the Seminoles could not miss, shooting 6-for-8 from behind the arc and forcing the Volunteers to switch back to man defense. Florida State finished the game shooting almost 60 percent from 3.

Florida State is shooting a conference-best 38 percent from 3 and comfortably leads the ACC in pace, which is unsurprising based on how they played last season. The month of December should be pretty easy for Florida State, but expect their matchup with the No. 2 UCLA Bruins to be a battle.

No. 17 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (3-1, 0-0 ACC)

Notre Dame is still without the services of their best player Olivia Miles, so it wasn’t a surprise that their season opener against South Carolina did not go well. Since then, the Irish have responded, winning each of their next three games by at least 25 points. Although the competition in those games is nothing to brag about, Notre Dame’s activity in their zone defense has been pretty impressive to start the year.

Freshman guard Hannah Hidalgo has been absolutely menacing at the point of attack, averaging 25 points and almost seven steals per game. (Yes, you read that right!)