ACC Basketball: Saturday Preview

We are in for a big weekend of college hoops in the ACC. There are eight games on the docket this weekend, with three intriguing contests taking place on Saturday. Without further a do, let’s take a look at what to watch for in first games of the weekend.

The Match-Up

Wake Forest (9-10, 1-5, RPI: 138) Vs. Clemson (10-8, 2-4, RPI: 96), 12:00 PM ET,

Their Last Game

Wake Forest

Wake’s last outing was an 87-71 blowout loss at home to #15 North Carolina.


The Tigers lost a back and forth affair to Florida State in their last game on Monday, by a score of 59-55.

Players To Watch

F Konstantinos Mitoglou, Wake Forest

Mitoglou has been getting better and better for the Demon Deacons with increasing court time, as he is coming off of the bench as a freshman and is averaging 8.7 points per game and 4.6 rebounds over 20 minutes of court time per contest. This game should be closely contested, with bench production potentially being the difference in the outcome, so Mitoglou is worth paying attention to when both teams go to their reserves.

F Jaron Blossomgame, Clemson

Sophomore Jaron Blossomgame is the Tigers’ most explosive offensive player. The magic number in this game is 15. Since the start of ACC play, when Blossomgame scores 15 points or more, the Tigers are 2-1, but they are 0-3 when he scores less than 15. In a game that should be as close as this one, Blossomgame exerting himself positively offensively could make all the difference in the world between a win and a loss for Clemson.

The Game And Prediction

With both teams coming off of tough losses, it is hard to see either one carrying much momentum at all into the game on Saturday. While Wake Forest has seen some great production of late from Codi Miller-McIntyre, Clemson has also seen outstanding play from Jaron Blossomgame. Both players are known for their ability to effect the game on both ends of the floor, with Blossomgame being a tad more consistent overall this season. While this should be a relatively close affair, I like Clemson in this game at home, because quite frankly, we have seen more positive play out of them this year than Wake.

Clemson 68   Wake Forest 62

The Match-Up

Florida State (10-9, 2-4, RPI: 135) Vs. #15 North Carolina (15-4, 5-1, RPI: 11), 2:00 PM ET, ESPN

Their Last Game

Florida State

Behind 17 points from freshman Xavier Rathan-Mayes, the Seminoles beat Clemson 59-55 on the road on Monday.

North Carolina

The Tar Heels came out firing against Wake Forest on Wednesday, blowing out the Demon Deacons 87-71.

Players To Watch

G Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Florida State

Rathan-Mayes has continued his freshman campaign as one of the breakout players in the ACC. He is averaging 12.7 points per game on 40% shooting, and is coming off of a 17-point outing against Clemson, which narrowly led the ‘Noles to victory. When he scores in bunches, Florida State plays much more competitive, even though they will be over-matched in most conference games this season with their young roster.

F Kennedy Meeks, North Carolina

Kennedy Meeks’ numbers have gone up in every category this season as he moved from the bench into the starting lineup. Meeks is averaging 12.8 points per game, versus 7.6 points per game a year ago, shooting 60% from the floor, up from 55% a year ago, and is averaging 8.4 rebounds per game, up from 6.1 a year ago. All of this, of course, on the heels of his jump in minutes from 16.3 to 22.5 this season. He is a force down low, and the one player outside of Marcus Paige that Florida State will absolutely have to contain.

The Game And Prediction

Xavier Rathan-Mayes is going to be able to make some plays early on in this game to keep Florida State competitive on the road at UNC. The real problem though, is the fact that the Seminoles are 152nd in the country in scoring, so where else is the offense going to come from in this game?

North Carolina meanwhile, boasts the country’s 19th ranked offense, and they are playing a better, more consistent brand of basketball than Leonard Hamilton’s bunch. While the ‘Noles will hang around for most of the first half, I like the ‘Heels to win comfortably after pulling away late in this one.

North Carolina 77  Florida State 59


The Match-Up

Miami (FL) (13-5, 3-2, RPI: 50) Vs. Syracuse (14-5, 5-1, RPI: 59), 4:00 PM ET, ESPN2

Their Last Game

Miami (FL)

The Hurricanes were very impressive in the second half on Thursday night against NC State, as they were able to hold off the Wolfpack late, 65-60.


The Orange led for most of the game against Boston College, and were able to overcome mistakes late in the game to beat the Eagles 69-61 on Tuesday night.

Players To Watch

G Sheldon McClellan, Miami (FL)

McClellan’s latest huge night came against North Carolina State on Thursday night, as he scored 16 points and pulled down 10 rebounds in the Hurricanes’ 65-60 win over the Wolfpack. He is averaging 15.4 points per game on 53% shooting, and is pulling down 5.6 rebounds per game as well. He is as consistent as they come for the ‘Canes, and he will hope to continue his stellar campaign on Saturday.

G Trevor Cooney, Syracuse

PSA for Trevor Cooney: BE CONSISTENT!!!!

Syracuse is a much better team when Cooney shoots the ball well, and they can be extremely tough to play when combining their 2-3 zone defense with the offensive prowess of Rakeem Christmas down low and Cooney’s offensive ability on the outside. The problem is, that he has been so up and down this season that it is hard to gauge what kind of player we are going to see on a given night. He is averaging 14.1 points per game, which is respectable, but is only shooting 37% from the field overall, and from 3-point land. The Orange would benefit from seeing Cooney put in a line of 28 points on 9-16 shooting like the Florida State outing, instead of the potential five points on 0-7 shooting, like he registered against Clemson.

The Game And Prediction

After seeing the Hurricanes’ performance against North Carolina State, I am impressed. Not only were they able to contain the Wolfpack guards, but they were able to get enough production out of their backcourt to pull away late. It is hard not to be impressed with the way Sheldon McClellan is playing as well, he is without a doubt one of the best rebounding guards in the ACC, and maybe in the rest of the country.

The Orange have seen highs and lows this season, but through it all they have had consistency out of only one player, Rakeem Christmas. While Christmas has been fantastic, it is tough to really buy in to what Syracuse is about, as they seem to rely a bit too much on their outside shooting if they struggle to get Christmas the rock. I think that Jim Boeheim is a good enough coach to get the most out of his players, even when they are overmatched, and that should be no different in this game. However, it is really hard not to like the way Miami is playing right now, even in their narrow defeats. I’ll take the Hurricanes, but this should be a competitive match-up between two teams trying to establish themselves in the ACC.

Miami (FL) 80   Syracuse 74


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