Two top 10 ACC teams are in action on this Monday evening, with the #6 North Carolina Tar Heels heading down to Tallahassee to play against Florida State, while #4 Virginia will make the trip southwest to take on bitter in-state rival Virginia Tech. Here are some storylines to watch for as you settle in for some exciting basketball action.
#6 North Carolina (13-2, 2-0 ACC) Vs. Florida State (10-3, 0-1 ACC), 7:00 PM ET on ESPN
- Although North Carolina commands one of the nation’s best offenses, averaging 86.5 points per game, the majority of their struggles have come on the defensive end of the floor, where the Tar Heels are 164th in points allowed, giving up 70.5 points per game.
- Florida State will need to do a much better job boxing out and crashing the boards. In their 84-75 loss on the road to Clemson on Saturday, the Seminoles were outrebounded 42-31. North Carolina is no slouch on the glass, so the ‘Noles will not be subject to any reprieve this evening. The Tar Heels are tied for 39th in the nation averaging 41.0 rebounds per game.
Florida State and North Carolina boast plenty of offensive threats across the board, and play very similar styles of basketball while running their up-tempo attacks. Additionally, neither team has lived up to expectations on defense, where both the Seminoles and Tar Heels rank well outside the top 150 in scoring defense.
The difference will be on the glass, where North Carolina has excelled, as outlined above, while Florida State has struggled to rebound at the same clip (83rd at 39.2 per game). While the discrepancy is not significant in the averages per game, the Tar Heels have been much more consistent on a game-to-game basis in comparison to the Seminoles. The inconsistencies in rebounding, like we saw for Florida State against Clemson on Saturday, make it tough for me to believe that the ‘Noles will pull of an upset tonight, although the game should be extremely fun and competitive throughout.
North Carolina 87 Florida State 81
#4 Virginia (12-1, 1-0 ACC) Vs. Virginia Tech (9-5, 1-0 ACC), 9:00 PM ET on ESPN2
- Virginia forward Mike Tobey, who was an after-thought in the Cavaliers offense, has taken his scoring to new levels over the last couple of games. After scoring eight points or less in six straight games, Tobey has erupted in his last two outings, averaging 15.5 points per game in victories against Oakland and Notre Dame.
- Virginia Tech earned its first conference win of the season on Saturday, as they defeated NC State in a home overtime victory behind the valiant scoring efforts of guards Seth Allen and Jalen Hudson, who each scored 23 points. They were the only two players in double-digits for the Hokies on offense.
Virginia Tech always seems to give the Cavaliers a difficult test when playing in Cassell Coliseum, including last season, where Virginia escaped with a 50-47 win despite trailing for a good portion of the contest. While the Blacksburg faithful would enjoy seeing their hometown school pull off an unlikely upset this season, it is not completely realistic to expect a favorable outcome when the buzzer sounds tonight. The Hokies have been inconsistent across the board on offense, with no one individual providing a consistent scoring punch night-in and night-out.
Against a team like Virginia, a go-to scorer who can take over the game is paramount for success, which unfortunately for Virginia Tech, has been an Achilles Heel since the departure of guard Erick Green to the NBA three years ago. With the balanced, and all of a sudden, formidable Virginia offense, combined with their suffocating half-court attack, it is tough to see the Virginia Tech offense (107th nationally at 77.4 points per game) being able to score enough to defeat one of the best defenses in the nation in Virginia (59.6 points allowed, 8th in the country).
Virginia 68 Virginia Tech 56