Around the ACC: Weekend preview for January 12, 2013

Duke at NC State  – The two ranked teams in the conference will meet in Raleigh for a high-noon showdown.

For Duke to win. they will have to adjust to life without Ryan Kelly, who will be out indefinitely following an injury to his right foot. This is the same foot that Kelly injured near the end of last season, causing him to miss the Blue Devils’ losses to Florida State and Lehigh.  Kelly is the team’s most accurate shooter from the perimeter, making 52.1% of his three-point attempts.

NC State has impressed over the past month and a half.  However, many pundits will only pay attention to whether or not the Wolfpack can pick up this win as confirmation that they have “returned” to ACC prominence.

Virginia at Clemson – After Virginia beat North Carolina, some wondered how that team could have possibly lost to Old Dominion. Then Virginia lost to Wake Forest.

The conference’s two slowest teams meet in this contest. In terms of pace of play, not actual quickness of their players.  Expect this to be a defensive struggle that leads to lots of Big Ten jokes from the snarky social media types.

These two teams really match up very well.  Akil Mitchell and Devin Booker should be scrapping for rebounds in a game where every possession will count.  Meanwhile, shot-blocking fiend K.J. McDaniels could be spending some quality time with Virginia’s leading scorer, Joe Harris.

North Carolina at Florida State – The road does not get any easier for the struggling Tar Heels. They’ll travel to Tallahassee, where they suffered a memorable 90-57 loss last season.

Florida State will be looking for its first 3-0 ACC start since joining the conference.  Over the course of the season, Florida State has struggled to rebound.  It will be crucial for the Seminoles to limit North Carolina’s second chances or fast break opportunities by hitting the glass.

Both of these teams get a week off following this game.  A North Carolina loss would give the team either a full week to practice and start fresh next Saturday before facing Maryland (gulp) or a full week of hearing how awful everyone thinks they are.

Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech – Virginia Tech is struggling and shorthanded, which is a pretty cruel combination.  Georgia Tech is not very good offensively, but this still has the feel of another Hokie mismatch

The Hokies will likely need a strong effort from its “supporting cast” in order to have a chance of knocking off the Yellow Jackets. Someone will have to step up and help Erick Green, because that help has not appeared in either of Virginia Tech’s conference games thus far.

The Yellow Jackets are hardly an offensive juggernaut, but they might be able to find some success against the Hokies.  Virginia Tech is not a great defensive team, and they will quickly find themselves in foul trouble if Georgia Tech attacks them with Daniel Miller (a size mismatch for everyone in the Hokie rotation), Kammeon Holsey, or Robert Carter, Jr.

Boston College at Wake Forest – After this game, one of these two very young squads will have a 2-1 start in ACC play after being projected to finish 11th and 12th in the conference.  Both of these teams picked up wins against opponents from the state of Virginia on Wednesday.

Wake Forest hopes to limit its turnovers against the Eagles.  Boston College doesn’t generate a lot of turnovers defensively, but the Demon Deacons have been careless with the ball at times.  There should be plenty of opportunities for Wake to score, if they can protect the ball.

Boston College, however, has to be aware of Wake’s trouble keeping possession.  If they can force mistakes and generate some easy offense, especially early in the game, it could take some bite out of the Joel Coliseum crowd.

Maryland at Miami – The Sunday night game will feature Maryland, fresh off a loss to Florida State to snap a 13-game winning streak, meeting up with the 2-0 (and Reggie Johnson-less) Hurricanes

The Miami frontcourt of Kenny Kadji and Juilan Gamble excelled Thursday night against North Carolina, but Alex Len should provide a stiffer test.  This should be an absolute battle in the paint all night

Of course, battles in the paint often come with fouls.  In that case, Maryland is much more equipped to engage in the conflict than Miami, especially with Johnson’s absence.

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