ACC Basketball: Preview of Tuesday Night’s Three-Game Docket

Tobacco Road getting a little weather tonight. I bet it’s a little hotter in the Deandome as NC State tries to exact revenge for the Marcus Paige heart-breaker at PNC earlier this year.

But in addition………!!!

Three exciting conference games tonight are on tap for your viewing pleasure. Here’s everything you need to know about the match-ups happening tonight, and don’t forget to check out our live in-game feed tonight on

Syracuse (17-10, 8-6, RPI: 74) Vs. #9 Notre Dame (24-4, 12-3, RPI: 27), 8:00 PM ET,

This game has the potential to be much more interesting than you would think. Notre Dame is gunning for a #2 seed in the NCAA Tournament next month, and they have looked fantastic since the Duke debacle on February 7th. Since that 30 point defeat, the Irish have won three straight games, including two decisive victories against Wake Forest and Boston College. Jerian Grant looks as good as ever for the Fighting Irish, as he is averaging 17 points per game on 50% shooting, while dishing out 6.5 assists per contest. He has clearly made his mark on college basketball this season, and is looking to lock up ACC Player of the Year as the final weeks of the season begin to wind down.

Syracuse meanwhile has the size down low that can cause the Irish fits. While Notre Dame has rolled of late, their best big man, forward Zach Auguste, has been up and down. He will have his hands full on Tuesday night, as Syracuse’s Rakeem Christmas continues to state his claim for a potential lottery pick in June’s NBA Draft. While the Orange as a whole have appeared more and more spiritless as their season comes to a close, Christmas has continued to shine, posting two 20-point, 10 rebound contests in his last five games, while enjoying a monster performance in a win against Louisville last week, where he tallied 29 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 blocks. All of a sudden, a high draft choice that once seemed unreasonable a year ago, are now well within the reach of Christmas, as he continues his stellar season.

In the game tomorrow night, I believe that it will come down to whether or not Zach Auguste can stay out of foul trouble for the Irish. If he can body up Christmas down low, this game won’t be close, because the Orange will have no answer for ND’s tremendous duo of Jerian Grant and Pat Connaughton. I believe that Rakeem Christmas will be able to make his mark on this game, because Zach Auguste has been hard to trust of late for the Irish. However, even with another potential 20-10 performance out of Christmas, I’ll take the Notre Dame at home to win this game.

Notre Dame 84    Syracuse 71


NC State (16-11, 7-7, RPI: 52) Vs. #15 North Carolina (19-8, 9-5, RPI: 13), 8:00 PM ET,

The Tar Heels enter this match-up on Tuesday night losers of four out of their last six, but they haven’t been playing bad basketball. They have lost an overtime game to #10 Louisville on the road, a home game to #3 Virginia, an overtime game to #4 Duke, and a 13 point loss to a white-hot Pittsburgh team. UNC is a lock to make it to the NCAA Tournament, most likely as a 3 or 4 seed at this point, a few weeks from conference tournament play. They have been relying on the great play of Marcus Paige, who leads the team in scoring at 13.6 points per game. Will he sink them again like he did in mid-January?

If they want a double-bye in the ACC Tournament, they 100% need to win this game tonight to keep pace with Louisville, especially after the Cardinals survived last night against Georgia Tech on the road, rallying from 13 down over the last several minutes.

North Carolina State is one of the most inconsistent teams in the conference, as they have lost 5 out of 8 to put them at a modest 7-7 record in conference play. They need to win out and win a couple of conference tourney games, plain and simple. I was high on them early in the year, and I’m still high on them now, because they can beat anyone when their shooters are hot, but they have been so streaky since the start of ACC play, that it is hard to know which team is coming to play on a given night. Look for North Carolina to establish their frontline, where they hold a distinct advantage over the ‘Pack. While NC State has Beejay Anya down low, who is a load on both ends, he simply doesn’t stay out of foul trouble enough to pose UNC a serious threat. It seems like night in and night out you look at the box score to see Anya play 10 minutes and foul out, which has to be frustrating for Mark Gottfried. It doesn’t help that they have had to play the toughest conference docket of any of the teams bunched at 7-7 right now. Pitt and Miami have easier roads to hoe down the stretch.

The Tar Heels have this in-state game at home, and need it to keep their chances at a 3-seed alive, and I like them to win this one by at least 10 over the Wolfpack, but it should be a good one. Look for UNC’s stout frontline to frustrate the smaller Pack, who will need to be perfect from the perimeter to compete with a UNC team that grows more confident with each outing.

North Carolina 83   NC State 72


Boston College (9-17, 1-13, RPI: 169) Vs. Pittsburgh (18-10, 7-7, RPI: 40), 9:00 PM ET, ESPNU

The match-up between these two teams tonight is a re-match of a January 6th meeeting, which was won by Pitt 61-60 in overtime. The Panthers ended that game on a 10-0 run, but Boston College still had a chance to win it, only to airball at the buzzer to allow Pitt to escape. Pittsburgh is much improved since that game, as they have won 5 out of their last 7 since an overtime loss to the Virginia Tech Hokies, which is one of their worst losses on their schedule. This is a huge game tonight for the Panthers, and let’s face it, every game for them is huge from here on out. They are right on the cusp of an NCAA Tournament bid, and winning their remaining against BC, Wake, Miami, and Florida State, should put them right in the mix heading into the conference tournament.

Boston College has struggled mightily this season, but are led by the impressive scoring of junior Olivier Hanlan, who is averaging 18.7 points per game to singlehandedly keep the Eagles competitive. He’s been great all year, but there’s no escaping his situation at BC, short of a transfer. He has a year of eligibility left, but it doesn’t look like the Eagles will be any better next year. Plus, he’s a combo guard at best at the next level, so his height and handle makes his draft stock a tad more volatile, so he probably isn’t a candidate to leave early for the NBA after the season. In some places we refer to this as purgatory.

Pittsburgh needs this one desperately, and I love the way they are playing right now. Look for them to come away with another much needed victory tonight.

Pittsburgh 75    Boston College 68


Thanks for reading! Follow me on twitter @mikem92VT, and follow ITA on Facebook, and be sure to follow along with our live in-game feed on Tuesday night with our entire InsideTheACC hoops panel.

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