ACC Stock Watch: January 17

Posted by Mick McDonald on January 17th, 2017

Each week during the ACC season, RTC will review the last seven days to discuss the teams, players and anything else trending across the league.

STOCK UP

  • Notre Dame. As expertly diagrammed by our Brad Jenkins last week, winning on the road in the ACC is quite the chore. So when a team can win a pair of games over likely NCAA Tournament teams away from home in the same week — as Notre Dame did with victories over Miami and Virginia Tech — it will result in a “Stock Up” spot on our list for the second consecutive week. Irish point guard Matt Farrell has made so many big plays down the stretch for his team that, according to David Peel, head coach Mike Brey referred to Farrell as “his Aaron Rodgers.” Now that’s some high praise, indeed.

Donovan Mitchell is becoming the leader of a very talented Louisville team. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

  • Donovan Mitchell, Louisville. When you think about the great Rick Pitino teams, you think about terrific guards — players like Peyton Siva and Russ Smith from Louisville’s 2013 National Championship team or Tony Delk and Wayne Turner from Kentucky’s 1996 National Championship squad. Pitino’s best teams have always had outstanding athletes in the backcourt leading the way. Sophomore Donovan Mitchell is the next name on that list. In the Cardinals’ last five games, Mitchell is averaging 19.0 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.2 steals per game. His ascension to stardom will become even more important in the short term as news broke last night that starting point guard Quentin Snider will miss 2-3 weeks with a hip injury. If Mitchell can continue to play at a very high level, Pitino could be headed back to another Final Four.
  • North Carolina. The Tar Heels’ home win over Florida State on Saturday was an important step for Roy Williams’ team if it wants to win the ACC this season. After also beating Syracuse during Big Monday last night, North Carolina has now won five straight games after an ACC-opening hiccup at Georgia Tech. The key to the streak has been Williams’ offense, as the Tar Heels, riding stellar three-point shooting to the tune of 40.5 percent, have scored at least 85 points in each of those five games. When they miss, extra opportunities abound, with North Carolina also averaging nearly 17 offensive rebounds per game during the stretch. A combination of an offense that is clicking, domination of the offensive glass and a favorable schedule over the next few weeks could give the Tar Heels an early advantage in the ACC title race.

STOCK DOWN

  • Pittsburgh. The Panthers were flying high after an upset win over Virginia on January 4, a game in which Pittsburgh shot 13-of-21 from three-point range and dropped 88 points against the vaunted Cavaliers’ defense. Since then, Kevin Stallings’ team has dropped three straight, including a home shellacking that came against Miami on Saturday. In those three losses, the Panthers are shooting just 38.0 percent from the field and 33.8 percent from three-point range. We discussed the importance of Cameron Johnson as a reliable third option for Stallings behind the scoring talents of Jamel Artis and Michael Young, and it appears that the time is now for the sophomore to elevate his game. Since the Virginia game, Johnson is shooting just 22 percent from the field, including a dismal 3-of-18 mark from three-point range. The Panthers’ match-up against similarly reeling NC State tonight looms large for both teams’ ultimate postseason hopes.

It was a week to forget for Mark Gottfried and the Wolfpack. (AP Images)

  • Mark Gottfried. This was a week to forget for NC State and especially head coach Mark Gottfried. After a deflating loss at Boston College last week, Gottfried earned the ire of many fans by claiming that his team was improving. His mood had changed by Sunday, where, after the Wolfpack’s home loss to Georgia Tech, he called his team’s defensive performance “embarrassing.” NC State hosts Pittsburgh and Wake Forest this week, and anything less than a pair of wins would put the Wolfpack’s already precarious path to the NCAA Tournament in jeopardy.
Mick McDonald (33 Posts)


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