ACC Basketball: Monday Preview

Another weekend of basketball in the books, as we move one step closer to postseason play. #3 Virginia picked up a huge win at home against #9 Louisville, but sustained a huge loss of star player Justin Anderson, who broke his hand and is expected to miss at least a month. It will be interesting to see if this injury derails their chances of winning the regular season title, as well as the conference tournament. Duke was able to handle Notre Dame in surprising fashion, beating them by 30 points at Cameron Indoor on Saturday. While that performance was the most impressive in all of college basketball this weekend, Miami (FL) picked up a win Sunday evening against Clemson that may end up saving their season. The Hurricanes were sputtering of late, and a good conference win against another bubble team is exactly what they needed as the end of the season draws near, as they have at least kept themselves in contention for an at-large bid to the Big Dance.

The weekend was not without sadness, as the college basketball world learned of the death of former UNC coach Dean Smith, who passed away Sunday at the age of 83. Check out fellow writer Ethan Winter’s piece on Coach Smith, who sheds light on the life of one of the most transcendent figures in the history of college basketball.

#4 Duke (20-3, 7-3, RPI: 4) Vs. Florida State (13-11, 5-6, RPI: 128), 7:00 PM ET, ESPN

Game Notes

    • Will Duke come out flat on the road? The Blue Devils rode an 81% shooting effort in the first half on Saturday to blow out #10 Notre Dame 90-60.
    • Florida State has the 215th ranked scoring defense in the country, while only 8 teams in the entire nation can score the basketball better than Duke. The ‘Noles will have to lock down their defense to give themselves a shot
    • This game will be about the tale of two freshmen. Florida State’s Xavier Rathan-Mayes has been phenomenal this season, averaging 13.7 ppg. and 4.8 apg. In his last game against Virginia Tech, he recorded a double-double with 12 points and 11 assists. Meanwhile, Jahlil Okafor is a National Player of the Year Candidate for Duke, as he is averaging 18.2 points and 9.3 rebounds per game for the Blue Devils.
  • Duke can hammer home the shots from beyond the arc, shooting nearly 40% as a team, but this department has been a struggle for the Seminoles, as they have only shot 28% on the season.


Florida State has struggled shooting the ball at times this season, with their early season loss of Aaron Thomas to suspension not aiding the cause one bit. The Seminoles have relied largely on their true freshman Xavier Rathan-Mayes, whose stellar play has gotten him into the All-ACC conversation in some camps. The ‘Noles will obviously need more help around Rathan-Mayes on Monday night, as Montay Brandon (12.8 ppg.) and Devon Bookert (10.2 ppg.) will need to step up their games offensively to try to help lead an upset. Florida State has scored 68.5 points per game this season as a team, which is only 149th in the country, so added contributions will be needed.

The Blue Devils are playing some of their best basketball of the season, coming off of a week in which they upset #3 Virginia, beat Georgia Tech, and then destroyed #10 Notre Dame 90-60 on national tv on Saturday afternoon. Jahlil Okafor has put on a show, per usual, and has solidified his candidacy for ACC Player of the Year, as well as National Player of the Year. This game should be decided swiftly with Florida State’s lack of defensive awareness, coupled with the fact that Duke can hit 3’s at an unbelievable clip. Ask Notre Dame, they let Duke hit 9-15 from out beyond the arc, which was one of the major reasons why the highly anticipated rematch on Saturday turned into a blowout.

Bottom line, Duke is playing like they are one of the top teams in the country, and Florida State plays no defense. This should be over quick.

Duke 80  Florida State 63


Georgia Tech (11-12, 2-9, RPI: 95) Vs. Virginia Tech (9-14, 1-9, RPI: 228), 9:00 PM ET, ESPNU

Game Notes

  • Georgia Tech continues to play hard for Brian Gregory, even though his days seem to be numbered in Atlanta. They lost to Duke by six on the road last Wednesday, and then notched a 14 point win over Wake Forest on Saturday.
  • Virginia Tech can’t seem to put any sort of momentum together, as they have promptly lost three straight games since defeating Pittsburgh on January 27th for their first ACC win of the season.
  • Adam Smith has been the most consistent scorer for Virginia Tech of late, recording 19 points in a loss to Florida State on Saturday. He is averaging 13.4 points per game this season, which leads the team.
  • Georgia Tech’s offense has continued to run through Marcus Georges-Hunt, who at 13.9 points per game leads his team in scoring.


Pretty tough to get excited about this one as an outside observer. Virginia Tech plays hard for new head coach Buzz Williams, who always seems to get the most out of his young players. The Hokies have lost three out of their last four ACC games by 3 points or less. The other loss was this past Saturday in an 8 point loss to Florida State. With many tight games and no wins to show for the effort, it is tough for Buzz to keep his young team motivated in this rebuilding year.

Georgia Tech is in a similar situation to the Hokies, as they have lost a ton of close games as well, seemingly unable to make the one or two plays down the stretch to make a difference. The Yellow Jackets have been poor again this season under Brian Gregory, who let’s face it, will be out of a job at year’s end.

While this game will be an ugly, low scoring contest, the Yellow Jackets hold a massive advantage in a single category that will decide this game: rebounding. Georgia Tech pulls down 38.6 rebounds per game, which is 26th in the country. The Hokies? 31.0 rebounds per game, which is 319th nationally. This should be enough to get GT a much-needed road win.

Georgia Tech 66   Virginia Tech 57


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