Around the ACC: Weekend Preview, January 26-27

Court-storming ruled the week, as Wake Forest stunned NC State and Miami protected its undefeated ACC record with a blowout win of top-ranked Duke.  We can only hope this weekend will be just as exciting. Here’s a look at what’s in store.

Maryland at Duke:  Oh, Maryland, what poor timing you have. Duke hasn’t lost back-to-back ACC games since 2009 (UNC and Boston College, February 11 and 15), and hasn’t lost a home game following a loss since 2007, when the Blue Devils followed up a road loss to Virginia with home losses to Florida State and North Carolina (and then lost to Maryland on the road, for good measure).  And none of those losses were as emphatic as the one Duke suffered against Miami.  Nonetheless, the two teams will meet at 1:00 PM Saturday, and Maryland will hope Duke’s frustrations from Wednesday ended with a practice that may or may not have happened.

For Maryland to have a chance of pulling off the surprising win in Cameron, they will have to do a much better job of protecting the ball.  The Terrapins have the worst turnover margin in ACC play, averaging 15.3 turnovers and 10.8 takeaways in their six conference games.  Turnovers will only allow for easy Duke baskets, which is exactly what shot down the Terrapins in their visit to Chapel Hill last Saturday.

Boston College at Virginia: The Cavaliers are coming in hot, with double-digit wins over Florida State and Virginia Tech in the past week.  Meanwhile, Boston College has lost its last three games by a combined nine points.

Virginia will be operating on a quick turnaround, playing Saturday at 1:00 fresh from Thursday’s victory over Virginia Tech.  NC State played two games in three days to start the week, defeating Clemson at home on Sunday before losing at Wake Forest on Tuesday.  Will the Cavaliers fare better?

This game will feature four of the top ten scorers in ACC play: Ryan Anderson (18.0 points per game), Lonnie Jackson (16.2), Olivier Hanlan (16.0) and Joe Harris (16.0).  Of course, Virginia will try to slow the game down and prevent any offensive fireworks, but perhaps someone can break through for a big game and lead their team to a victory.

Wake Forest at Georgia Tech: Winston-Salem partied like it was 2009 after the Demon Deacons upset win over NC State Tuesday.  Now, can Wake Forest follow it up with a road win against Georgia Tech?

The Yellow Jackets will be looking for their first conference win of the season, so they certainly hope Wake Forest will be suffering from a big-win hangover.  They’ve only gotten within single-digits of an ACC opponent once this season, though, in their overtime home loss to Virginia Tech.

Of course, for Georgia Tech to win, they will have to make shots. That sounds obvious, but the Yellow Jackets are last in ACC play in field-goal percentage (36.1%), so you have to go back to basics to a certain extent when talking about them.

North Carolina at NC State: North Carolina and NC State will meet in Raleigh Saturday evening, a game that will have both fanbases excited.

North Carolina is looking to extend its ACC win streak to four games after an 0-2 start.  The Tar Heels are at their best when knocking down three-pointers, but they will face the conference’s best perimeter defense, as NC State is limiting opponents to 27.1% shooting beyond the arc.  UNC will also be without Leslie McDonald, serving a suspension for academic issues, so the onus will be on either Reggie Bullock and P.J. Hairston to get good looks from distance, or James Michael McAdoo and Brice Johnson to step up inside.

NC State is looking for its first win against the Tar Heels since 2007.  Coming off a loss at Wake Forest, the Wolfpack will have plenty of motivation.  Against Duke, Richard Howell’s tenacity helped key an NC State victory.  He will need a similar performance against the Tar Heels to prevent second chances for North Carolina.

Virginia Tech at Clemson: Clemson fell into the Snaer Thursday night, losing on a Michael Snaer three-pointer after leading 44-34 with 11:29 remaining.  Meanwhile, the Hokies will look to rebound from a 74-58 loss against Virginia.

For the Hokies, the mission will be the same as always: Get Erick Green some help.  Against the Cavaliers, Green scored 35 of Virginia Tech’s 58 points.  It’s nice to have the nation’s leading scorer, but at some point someone else has to step up for the Hokies to have a chance.

Similarly, Clemson hopes to stretch the Hokie defense by getting some production from its players not named Devin Booker.  You know exactly what Booker is getting each night.  The problem is, that is all you know.  One night, Milton Jennings is scoring 16 points, the next, he’s invisible.  Whichever team can get more production out of “secondary” players will have a huge advantage.

Florida State at Miami:  The Seminoles will be the next team to attempt to end Miami’s undefeated ACC run, visiting Coral Gables following the Hurricanes huge win against Duke.

It sounds cliche, but Miami, like Wake Forest, will be on hangover watch.  It’s unlikely they will have another blowout like Tuesday all season, and the target is painted clearly on their back now.  Florida State was last year’s “Miami” and knows a thing or two about winning in hostile environments from that experience.

Lost in the hoopla of that game Tuesday was Miami’s 15-of-27 shooting at the free throw line.  Miami is making only 65.7% of its free throws, while Florida State leads the conference in free-throw percentage at 71.5%.  If the emotions are running high in this in-state rivalry game between two of the ACC’s better teams, fouls could follow, and that would benefit the Seminoles.

Leave a Reply