ACC Basketball Preview: Wednesday Night Action

Three more conference games litter the ACC basketball schedule on Wednesday night, as an intriguing in-state match-up highlights the slate. It should be an exciting night of hoops action, so without further ado, let’s get to all you need to know about the games ahead.

The Match-Up

UPDATE, 9:10AM: Notre Dame pivot Zach Auguste has been suspended for tonight’s game, possibly longer, more details to come. Some reports saying grades might render him ineligible for the remainder of the season.

#12 Notre Dame (15-2, 3-1, RPI: 48) Vs. Georgia Tech (9-6, 0-3, RPI: 62)

Their Last Game

Notre Dame

The 12th-ranked Irish fell on Saturday evening at home to #2 Virginia in a back and forth defensive affair, 62-56. It was one of the best ACC games of the weekend and definitely lived up to the hype.

Georgia Tech

The Yellow Jackets are reeling after they suffered their third straight tough loss over the weekend, falling to Wake Forest on the road, 76-69.

Players To Watch

G/F Jerian Grant, Notre Dame

Grant had a breakout game in the meeting two weeks ago against the Yellow Jackets, scoring 24 points and 6 assists in the double overtime win at home. Not to mention the menacing slam he threw down in the contest that may have broken the internet and ESPN that weekend. Grant continues to be stellar for the Irish in his return this season from academic suspension, as he leads the team in scoring at 16.6 points per game on 50% shooting from the field.

F Charles Mitchell, Georgia Tech

Mitchell had a huge game against the Irish in their first meeting, which should not be a huge surprise considering Notre Dame’s lack of front-court depth. Mitchell dropped 14 points and added 12 rebounds in the first meeting, and will need a line in that vicinity on Wednesday night if the Yellow Jackets plan on pulling the home upset.

The Game And Prediction

This was one heck of a showdown on ACC opening weekend, as the Irish survived against Georgia Tech at home in double overtime, 83-76. Wednesday night, I expect a similar type affair, as GT has played their conference opponents tough so far. Although 0-3 in conference, the Ramblin’ Wreck have only lost their three conference games by a combined 15 points. They are playing teams tough, but have had trouble overcoming deficits in the final minutes so far this season in conference play. Charles Mitchell is the X-Factor for Georgia Tech, because he is the one player on their roster who poses a significant match-up problem when considering Notre Dame’s lack of depth in the front-court. Although I do anticipate him having a big night, I think the Irish are too talented for Georgia Tech, and should be able to manage covering the 4 point road spread with a late run in the waning minutes.

Notre Dame  76  Georgia Tech  66

The Match-Up

#15 North Carolina (12-4, 2-1, RPI: 12) Vs. NC State (12-5, 3-1, RPI: 34)

Their Last Game

North Carolina

The Tar Heels come into Wednesday night’s match-up riding high after a weekend upset against #5 Louisville in which they rallied from 13 down to win. Marcus Paige left the North Carolina faithful smiling after hitting a floating lay-up with under 6 seconds left to secure the Tar Heel home upset by a score of 72-71.

NC State

North Carolina State is coming off of an upset of their own, as they rode their hot back-court shooting to an 87-75 home romp over then-ranked #2 Duke.

Players To Watch

G Marcus Paige, North Carolina

Honestly though, did you expect it to be anyone else? As you may have read in some of my previous installments, the Tar Heels go as Marcus Paige goes, and the belief held true on Saturday in their upset victory over Louisville when he unleashed his heroics in the waning seconds of the game. Paige is averaging 13.3 points per game and 3.6 assists for North Carolina, as he has tried to help the Tar Heels navigate their tough schedule this season.

G Trevor Lacey, NC State

Lacey is one of three NC State guards who can shoot the lights out of the gym. Lacey is averaging 17 points per game on 50% shooting, and is coming off of a 21 point effort against the Blue Devils, in which he went 5-7 from beyond the arc. He’s on fire this season, and will try to propel the Wolfpack to victory, as he has the offensive tools to get the job done.

The Game And Prediction

How will these two very good ACC teams handle prosperity? This could be the prevailing narrative of this game, as both teams will try to follow-up upset victories with a solid ACC win on Wednesday night. While UNC will have to find solid offensive contributions from their role players such as Brice Johnson and J.P. Tokoto, the story of this game will be in the back-court, where NC State will send Ralston Turner, Anthony Barber, and Trevor Lacey out on the floor ready to shoot. How the Tar Heels backcourt defends this trio could end up deciding who wins this game, as Marcus Paige will have to lead his team by example on both ends of the floor Wednesday night. UNC enters the game as a 3.5 point road favorite, but I love the way the Wolfpack are playing right now, even with their recent loss a week ago to UVA. I’ll take the points, and the ‘Pack at home in a slight upset over the ‘Heels.

NC State 75   UNC  72

The Match-Up

Harvard (10-3, 1-0 in the IVY League, RPI: 41) Vs. Boston College (7-7, 0-3, RPI: 152)

Their Last Game


The Crimson enter this non-conference contest with Boston College after winning their Ivy League opener against Dartmouth, 57-46.

Boston College

The Eagles continue to struggle, as their most recent loss on the road to Miami (FL) 60-56 dropped BC to 0-3 in ACC Play.

Players To Watch

G Wesley Saunders, Harvard

The Crimson will look to once again win the Ivy League this year, and are led into conference play by senior guard Wesley Saunders, who is the team’e leading scorer at 16.2 points per game on 52% shooting. Scoring isn’t the only thing that Saunders brings to the table however, as his 5.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 2.1 steals per game are all career highs for Saunders, who seems to continue to improve for the Crimson.

G Olivier Hanlan, Boston College

Hanlan will be tasked with limiting Wesley Saunders of Harvard on the defensive end, in addition to carrying the scoring load for the Eagles. Hanlan is averaging 16.4 points per game, but his contributions when he doesn’t have the ball in his hands will end up deciding the game, so this is what viewers will need to pay attention to most in this match-up.

The Game And Prediction

Harvard is one of the better teams in the Mid-Major conferences, and Tommy Amaker’s club is always well coached and ready to play. Boston College is one of the weakest teams in the ACC, and their game with Harvard on Wednesday night will be anything but easy. In fact, despite a back-court that averages 31.0 points per game, the Eagles are actually home underdogs against the visiting Crimson. It is hard for me to disagree with Vegas in this case, as the Eagles have not been very impressive at all this season. I’ll take Harvard big in this game, with more than enough firepower to cover their 3.5 point spread.

Harvard  66   Boston College  52

The Match-Up

Florida State (9-7, 1-2, RPI: 150) Vs. Pittsburgh (11-5, 1-2, RPI: 103)

Their Last Game

Florida State

The Seminoles were simply over-matched in their game with Syracuse at the Carrier Dome on Sunday night, as they were massacred by the struggling Orange in a game that ended with a final of 70-57.


Jamie Dixon’s young squad was not able to get the job done at home against Clemson on Saturday, as they lost to the Tigers, 71-62.

Players To Watch

G Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Florida State

Xavier Rathan-Mayes has been a very consistent scorer for Florida State, as the true freshman has scored in double digits in six of his last seven games. He is averaging 12.5 points per game, which is impressive in a very tough ACC conference. Look for his tear to continue on Wednesday night against Pittsburgh.

F Michael Young, Pittsburgh

Michael Young is due for a bounce-back performance on Wednesday night, as he failed to score in double digits against Clemson for the first time in the last eight games he has played. Young has sat around 13 points per game and 8 assists this season, and Pittsburgh will need him to step back up towards those numbers against Florida State.

The Game And Prediction

Pittsburgh is the better overall team in this match-up against Florida State, and will have the best player on the floor in Michael Young. However, the Panthers have been very up and down this season on both ends of the court, which is to be expected from a youthful team. Ultimately, the inside presence of Michael Young will be too much for the Seminoles, despite the solid back-court contributions that they should get from Montay Brandon and youngster Xavier Rathan-Mayes. Pittsburgh enters the game as a five point home favorite, and I like them to win, but I’ll take the points against the spread in a close, ugly game.

Pittsburgh 58   Florida State  55

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