This Weekend in the ACC: January 21

Posted by Mick McDonald on January 21st, 2017

Here are a few things you should be keeping your eye on around the ACC this weekend (all times Eastern).

Have We Reached the Point Where Syracuse Begins to Save Its Season? (USA Today Images)

  • 12:00 PM: Syracuse (11-8, 3-3) at Notre Dame (16-3, 5-1). The Orange, which desperately need some quality wins to get on the right side of the NCAA Tournament bubble, will have a big opportunity this afternoon against the ACC-leading Fighting Irish. The problem for Jim Boeheim‘s club is that this game is in South Bend. In Syracuse’s six (yes, just six) games away from home this season, the Orange are 0-6, having lost those games by an average of nearly 13 PPG against questionable competition (i.e., St. John’s, Connecticut and Boston College). Most teams experience significant home and road shooting splits, but the Orange’s numbers away from home — 37.4% from the field, including just 31.2% from three — have been downright dreadful. Keep an eye on point guard John Gillon. In his six games away from the Carrier Dome, he’s made just 9-0f-37 shots (24.3%) and 3-of-17 (17.7%) from beyond the arc. If Gillon can knock down a few shots to relieve some of the pressure from Andrew White III and Tyler Lydon, Syracuse might be able to hang with Notre Dame long enough to have a chance to pull the upset. If not, it could be a very long afternoon in South Bend.
  • 2:00 PM: Louisville (16-3, 4-2) at Florida State (17-2, 5-1). In our Stock Watch that published earlier this week, we noted the recent terrific play of Louisville wing Donovan Mitchell and how important it will be for the sophomore to maintain his high level of play with starting point guard Quentin Snider on the shelf. Mitchell was once again terrific in the Cardinals’ win over Clemson on Thursday night, but the story of the game was Snider’s replacement, freshman V.J. King. Prior to Thursday night’s game, King had scored just 21 total total points in five ACC contests; his debut as a starter resulted in 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting. Now that he’s a known commodity, keep an eye on how King performs against the array of talented athletes that Seminoles’ head coach Leonard Hamilton will throw at him. In order to walk out of Tallahassee with a victory, the Cardinals will need King to knock down shots as well as remain physical with the Florida State guards.

  • 2:00 PM: Wake Forest (11-7, 2-4) at NC State (13-6, 2-4). Yes, it’s only January 21, but don’t tell that to Wake Forest fans. In the latest version of Joe Lunardi’s “Bracketology,” the Demon Deacons are listed as one of the “Last Four In” and one of CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm’s “First Four Out.” Given what fans in Winston-Salem have gone through over the last five years, this alone is a significant achievement. That said, a home win over Miami isn’t enough to hang your hat on, and Wake Forest will need collect as many wins as possible in a treacherous ACC to have a chance. One of those opportunities comes this weekend in Raleigh against a porous NC State defense. If the Demon Deacons can limit their turnovers as they did with only nine against Miami, they should find plenty of easy scoring chances for John Collins and Bryant Crawford against the Wolfpack’s defense.
  • 8:15 PM: Miami (12-5, 2-3) at Duke (14-4, 2-3). ESPN’s College GameDay will be in Durham this weekend, but the Blue Devils that they will find at Cameron Indoor Stadium are not quite the ones we thought we’d have at this point in the year. Duke is of course without Mike Krzyzewski for at least another few weeks, and the status of senior center Amile Jefferson, out with a foot injury, is still up in the air. Regardless, it will be interesting to see how Jeff Capel decides to defend Miami point guard Ja’Quan Newton. Newton isn’t much of a three-point shooter (just 30.8 percent this season) and is prone to turnovers (averaging 3.5 per game), but he is also a dynamic playmaker once he gets into the lane. The Blue Devils usually like slotting senior Matt Jones on the opponents’ best player, but Newton’s quickness could give Jones some trouble. Don’t be surprised if Duke plays a good amount of zone this evening, and forces Newton to beat them with jump shots.
Mick McDonald (70 Posts)

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