ACC Basketball: Weekend Preview

Full ACC slate again this weekend, with six games on Saturday and one game on Sunday afternoon. Here are all the facts you need to know about the match-ups, along with some of my unofficial-official predictions. Let’s get started.

Wake Forest (11-12, 3-7, RPI: 142) Vs. Georgia Tech (10-12, 1-9, RPI: 96), 12:00 PM ET Saturday,

Game Notes

  • Wake Forest is coming off of a home win against N.C. State in their last contest, while GT lost by six on the road to Duke after competing quite well throughout the entire game
  • Offense has been hard to come by for the Yellow Jackets this season, their 64.6 points per game ranks 249th in the country, ouch.
  • The Jackets were able to hang with Duke on Wednesday night for most of the game by the 3-point shot. They shot 8-11 (73%) as a team from beyond the arc, which is grossly above their season average of 27%.
  • Wake’s defense has struggled mightily throughout most of this season. They have given up nearly 71 points per game this year, which is 286th nationally.


Georgia Tech has been battling good teams throughout this year and continuously falling just short. While coach Brian Gregory’s job may be in jeopardy, he is still getting the most out of his players, and the effort is clearly there. The Yellow Jackets are led by Marcus Georges-Hunt in scoring, as the junior forward is averaging 14 points and 6 rebounds per game this season.

While Wake Forest has more conference wins than Georgia Tech, they have not looked nearly as good as the Yellow Jackets throughout the entirety of the season. Codi Miller-McIntyre and Devin Thomas are the two top dogs for Wake, and their scoring ability will provide problems for Georgia Tech’s 121st ranked defense. This will be a low scoring affair, and I’ll give Georgia Tech the edge at home.

Georgia Tech 66  Wake Forest 60


#10 Notre Dame (21-3, 9-2, RPI: 27) Vs. #4 Duke (19-3, 6-3, RPI: 5), 1:00 PM ET Saturday, CBS

Game Notes

  • Since upsetting Duke in South Bend a little over a week ago, ND has been upset by Pittsburgh, and barely snuck by BC. Not the greatest last two games for the Irish, so it’ll be interesting to see how they can respond in a tough environment at Cameron Indoor.
  • Duke meanwhile, is on the uptick since losing against Notre Dame. The Blue Devils went into Charlottesville and played some of the most impressive basketball I’ve seen all season in the last four minutes against the Cavaliers. The result? A 69-63 win. They then beat the Yellow Jackets 72-66 at home on Wednesday.
  • Much like the last meeting, the outcome of the game will be dictated by Duke’s Jahlil Okafor, who dominated down low with 22 points and 17 rebounds last week. Much of his dominance had to do with Notre Dame forward Zach Auguste getting in foul trouble, which most definitely can’t happen if the Irish want to win this game on the road.
  • Duke’s backcourt will have to find a way to defend Notre Dame’s guards. Jerian Grant, Pat Connaughton, and Demetrius Jackson for one of the most potent guard combinations in the country, and the trio is good enough to carry the Irish to victory if Duke isn’t careful.


Notre Dame has looked shaky since their upset over Duke in South Bend, losing to Pittsburgh on the road and barely beating Boston College at home. The defense has been most to blame, allowing guard penetration and getting into foul trouble. The Irish only employ 7-8 players in their rotation, and foul trouble will doom their chances every time, especially considering how thin they are in their front court.

Duke has the home court advantage, Jahlil Okafor’s dominance in the paint, and outstanding guard play of late. This should be another closely contested contest, but I have a tough time seeing Coach K lose to one of his former assistant’s twice in the same season.

Duke 78  Notre Dame 72

Florida State (12-11, 4-6, RPI: 133) Vs. Virginia Tech (9-13, 1-8, RPI: 207), 3:00 PM ET Saturday,

Game Notes

  • After upsetting #23 Miami (FL) over the weekend, the Seminoles lost a hard fought road game to the surging Clemson Tigers, 62-56 on Wednesday.
  • Freshman Xavier Rathan-Mayes is really coming into his own for Florida State, as he has scored 15 points or more in 5 of his last 6 games.
  • Virginia Tech continues to fight for new head coach Buzz Williams, but they have given away a ton of close games recently, as they blew a huge lead to Syracuse on the road on Tuesday night.
  • Tech’s leading scorer Justin Bibbs is back in action, and since returning from a concussion has averaged 14.5 points per game for the Hokies.


The Hokies are at home, reeling after giving the game away against Syracuse for the second time this season. It is Tech’s first home game since upsetting Pittsburgh a little over a week ago. Justin Bibbs is back, and is already making a difference on the offensive end for the Hokies, as he is picking up where he left off prior to his concussion.

Florida State has been up and down this season, but Xavier Rathan-Mayes has been so consistently good of late that he will demand the Hokies’ undivided attention at all times. The Hokies will get into their zone defense and try to force the ‘Noles offense to hit threes to beat them. It remains to be seen whether or not the Seminoles will be up to the task.

This game will be ugly and low scoring. I’ll pick the Hokies just because they’re due for a W, especially if the game is close.

Virginia Tech 62   Florida State 59

#12 North Carolina (17-6, 7-3, RPI: 10) Vs. Boston College (9-12, 1-8, RPI: 128), 3:00 PM ET Saturday,

Game Notes

  • Two straight tough losses for the Tar Heels. After losing to Louisville in overtime over the weekend, they struggled to play with Virginia in the second half, as the Cavaliers controlled the tempo and beat down the ‘Heels 75-64.
  • North Carolina enters the game #2 in the country in rebounding. Boston College? 281st. This alone should decide the game.
  • BC has Olivier Hanlan, who at 17 points per game tries to singlehandedly guide the Eagles to wins.
  • Unfortunately for the Eagles, Carolina has one of the best point guards in the ACC in Marcus Paige, so the impact Hanlan may make will be countered by Paige. Book it.


UNC is a much better team across the board. It will be nice for them to get a bit of a reprieve from their brutal schedule of late. Hanlan will try for BC, but Paige will counter and the ‘Heels will roll.

North Carolina 78   Boston College 60

Syracuse (15-7, 6-3, RPI: 72) Vs. Pittsburgh (15-8, 4-5, RPI: 78), 4:00 PM ET Saturday, ESPN2

Game Notes

  • Syracuse is taking the floor for the first time since announcing that they are self-imposing a postseason ban due to an NCAA investigation into possible violations during the 2007 season.
  • Michael Gbinije sunk the game-winner as Syracuse somehow eluded the lowly Virginia Tech Hokies on Tuesday night, 72-70.
  • After the Panthers came up with a huge home upset over then-ranked #8 Notre Dame last Saturday, they defeated Bryant University in a non-conference tilt on Monday. Pitt will look to make it three in a row, and try to gain some momentum as they head to the back-end of their conference schedule.
  • How motivated will the Orange play? Every game for the rest of the season, now holds little meaning except for the future development and experience of their younger players. Pitt seems to have everything to gain, while Syracuse has nothing to play for due to the new ban.


It is hard to see Syracuse compete hard in this game. Sure, they match-up well with Pittsburgh, but the events that transpired over the past week around the program will be too much to overcome. I like Pitt by 10.

Pittsburgh 64  Syracuse 56


#9 Louisville (19-3, 7-2, RPI: 12) Vs. #3 Virginia (20-1, 8-1, RPI: 3), 7:00 PM ET Saturday, ESPN

Game Notes

  • Both teams enter the contest with Top 20 defenses. Virginia’s defense is the class of college basketball at this point, as their #1 ranked scoring defense only allows 50.9 points per game. Louisville’s full-court press defense also ranks among the nation’s elite, as they only surrender 58.8 points per game this season.
  • Louisville should be able to gain an edge on the glass, as they rank in the Top 15 in the country in rebounding, while Virginia sits outside the Top 50 in that department.
  • Can Louisville’s wings, specifically Wayne Blackshear, contend with Justin Anderson and Malcolm Brogdon of UVA? While Louisville holds the advantage in the paint with Montrezl Harrell, Anderson and Brogdon may be able to decide this game with their play on the perimeter.
  • London Perrantes is known for his ability to play stout defense among some of the nation’s best guards. He will have his hands full on Saturday, as guard Terry Rozier leads the Cards with 18.5 points per game


This without a doubt will be a game centered around establishing the tempo. UVA likes to burn up as much clock as they can while on offense, while Louisville tries to speed up the game by using a full-court pressure defense to force turnovers and get out on the break. Louisville has a perceived edge in the pain with Montrezl Harrell and his relentless size and speed. However, Virginia should be able to get good production out of their wings against the Louisville pressure. Both teams play sound defense, so this game will be low scoring, but I’ll take UVA at home in a close game. This is the must-watch game of the weekend, and will be the most intriguing to watch, as both teams will try to force their identities offensively and defensively on the other.

Virginia 55    Louisville 52


Clemson (14-8, 6-4, RPI: 74) Vs. Miami (FL) (14-8, 4-5, RPI: 64), 6:30 PM ET Sunday, ESPNU

Game Notes

  • Miami has lost three straight games, scoring only 53.0 points per game during that span. This is well below their average offensive output of 68.0 points per game, which is clearly a big reason why they are struggling.
  • Clemson is officially on “bubble watch” for the Big Dance in March. The Tigers have won 5 out of their last 6 games, improving their conference record to 6-4 in the process. With two games against Notre Dame and one game against Duke remaining in their regular season schedule, we should learn a lot more about Clemson in the coming weeks.
  • The Tigers have a ton of trouble scoring, averaging only 63 points per game. They do rely on playing good defense, as they are a Top 50 national scoring defense, only giving up 60.5 per contest.
  • Hurricanes guard Angel Rodriguez, who is the team’s second leading scorer and had such a promising start to the season, has had a heck of a time shooting the ball of late. Over his last five games, he is just 9-47 from the field (19%).


These are two teams heading in completely opposite directions. All of a sudden, the Hurricanes, who were so deadly from beyond the arc for most of the season, can’t shoot. As I alluded to above, they are scoring 15 points per game under their average for the last three games, and Rodriguez, one of their best players, has been horrible. As a team that once looked like a sure-fire bubble team for the tournament, and one that could make some noise if given an opportunity in March, Jim Larranaga’s squad has looked like a completely different team of late, making you wonder what exactly has happened in Coral Gables.

Clemson meanwhile, is riding their leading scorer, Jaron Blossomgame (13.1 ppg.) to new heights in conference play. The Tigers keep on winning, potentially giving themselves a chance at the Big Dance if they can rattle off one or two more quality wins in the regular season. If they can do that, then advance a few rounds in the conference tournament next month, they will be in serious contention for an at-large bid. Their defense is the key, and if they continue competing on that end of the floor, they will be a tough team to play the rest of the season.

After watching the Hurricanes over the last few games, nothing seems to be going right. I think this game could trend towards a blowout, just because of how well the Tigers have been playing on both ends of the court. Miami is more than capable of winning this game, especially at home, but they haven’t shown me much recently, and their inconsistencies will be too much for them to overcome.

Clemson 70    Miami (FL) 63


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