Louisville is Ahead of Schedule
Chris Mack is a great coach. Everyone knew that was a strong hire when he was brought on to replace disgraced former coach Rick Pitino. Mack proceeded to sign five four-star recruits, but most observers expected the team to take some time to grow into Mack’s program.
Instead, he already has a win over top-ten opponent Michigan State earlier this season, now he adds an ACC road win over No. 12 North Carolina. The Cardinals blasted UNC 83-62 and they dominated almost from the start. One of the most glaring numbers was Louisville’s three-point shooting percentage of 42.3 compared to just 13.6 for Carolina.
Watch out for the Cardinals.
Duke is Who We Thought They Were
The loaded Blue Devils have lost just once this season in a two-point decision against Gonzaga. Duke remained perfect in ACC play after another two-point decision, this time a beautifully designed last-second buzzer beater over No. 13 Florida State on the road.
Everyone drools over Zion Williamson and his wild dunks, but RJ Barrett is the guy they can’t live without. His team-leading 23.4 points per game is just the start of Duke’s most well-rounded player. He’s a strong rebounder and averages nearly four assists per game. He’s such a threat that he drew the double-team on that final inbounds play to free up a wide open Cam Reddish.
As usual it’s a real pick your poison situation with the Blue Devils.
Wake Made a Mistake
Wake Forest signed Danny Manning to a contract extension in the fall of 2017. The terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. He had a 45-57 record at the time, but he had recruited well and taken the team to an NCAA Tournament appearance (albeit a loss in the First Four).
Since inking that deal however, Wake is just 16-24 overall and 4-17 in ACC action including 0-3 this season. His overall ACC record is 20-55 (.267). The contract takes Manning through the 2024-25 season meaning they’re likely stuck with him for a while as the buyout would be huge. Wake Forest is a small school meaning it has a smaller alumni base than a large school with donors that might be willing to pony up for a hefty buyout.
This year’s team once again appears overmatched early, as the closest ACC loss was an 11-point decision against a below average Miami squad. There’s still time to right the ship this season, but the schedule doesn’t get easier.
Georgia Tech is Going to be Pesky
Josh Pastner’s club should probably be 3-0 in conference but instead they’re 2-1 after dropping a heartbreaker to Virginia Tech. Too many turnovers and an inability to make shots doomed the Yellow Jackets in that one. They turned it around in a big way with a road win at Syracuse Saturday.
Jose Alvarado lead the way with 19 points in an impressive 73-59 victory. The story came in the paint though where the Jackets dominated. James Banks added 16 points to snap a four-game Orange winning streak. It puts Georgia Tech at 10-6 overall.
Tech ranks 20th in the nation in scoring defense and Alvarado is one of the top young guards in the conference. When this team makes shots they’re going to be tough to beat.
-Pittsburgh notched the biggest win of the Jeff Capel era so far with an 89-86 W over Louisville. They already have three more wins than all of last season and will avoid going winless again in conference play.
-Virginia Tech and Virginia meet this week in Charlottesville in a top ten Commonwealth clash. It should be entertaining, but also might be fairly low-scoring as Virginia ranks 1st in the nation in scoring defense (51.8 PPG) and the Hokies are right behind at 4th (57.8 PPG).
-Notre Dame knocked off rival Boston College despite not having guard T.J. Gibbs who was out with an illness. Gibbs is 13th in the nation in assist to turnover ratio (3.41) but Prentiss Hubb filled in and nailed a couple of late free throws to seal the win.
-NC State continues to roll despite an 8-point setback against North Carolina. Their only other loss this season was by four points to a ranked Wisconsin club. Torin Dorn is the leading scorer (14.2 PPG) by Markell Johnson’s game has taken a leap as a junior. He’s making 46 percent of his three-point tries and is a vital piece for the 14-2 Wolfpack.