This Weekend in the ACC: February 4

Posted by Mick McDonald on February 4th, 2017

Here are a few things to keep your eye on around the ACC this weekend (all times Eastern).

Clemson needs Jaron Blossomgame to come up big if the Tigers want to win in Tallahassee. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

  • Saturday, 12:00 PM: Virginia (17-4, 7-2) at Syracuse (14-9, 6-4). The Cavaliers have been excellent on the road this year, going 4-1 in the ACC with their only loss in overtime at Pittsburgh. In an ACC season where road wins have been tough to come by, that record is an excellent way to win an ACC regular season championship. The Orange are undefeated at home in ACC play, but this game could be decided on the glass. In their last two wins at the Carrier Dome, Syracuse has dominated the offensive glass (33.3% against Wake Forest; 38.7% against Florida State.) Virginia, on the other hand, has been downright dominant at securing defensive rebounds in its last three ACC victories (91.7% against Georgia Tech; 96.4% against Notre Dame; 88.9% against Virginia Tech).
  • Saturday, 3:00 PM: Georgia Tech (13-9, 5-5) at Wake Forest (13-9, 4-6). Coming into this season, this looked like a game you would easily skip over on a busy college hoops weekend. But both Josh Pastner and Danny Manning have gotten their teams into the early February bubble conversation, and this game looms large for either team’s NCAA Tournament hopes. The Yellow Jackets have collected several terrific wins at home but need to show they can win outside of Atlanta. The Demon Deacons’ resume is still short on wins over other Tournament-quality teams, so adding a few victories over fellow bubble teams like Georgia Tech is key. Wake Forest ranks among the top 50 in the country in effective field goal percentage (53.9%) and relies heavily on Bryant Crawford and John Collins to produce. This will come down to whether Georgia Tech’s zone defense can get enough stops against a very efficient offense (12th nationally, per KenPom). The Yellow Jackets have not allowed a team to shoot an eFG over 51.0 percent in their last eight games — if they can make it to nine, they should be able to win this game.

  • Sunday, 12:30 PM: Clemson (13-8, 3-6) at Florida State (19-4, 7-3). The Tigers faced an incredibly challenging schedule to begin ACC play and a 1-6 ACC record reflected it. They’ve since rebounded by winning at Pittsburgh and beating Georgia Tech at home, but the difficulty ratchets up again with a trip to Tallahassee on Super Bowl Sunday. (It’s also fitting that the two top football schools in the conference would play on the day the NFL decides its champion.) This is the type of game where the Tigers will need star Jaron Blossomgame to carry them. The senior has struggled in shooting the ball this year, hitting at just a 25.4 percent clip from long-range. Over the last four games, however, Blossomgame has made nine of his last 16 attempts. The Tigers will need that trend to continue if they want to pick up a monster road victory.
  • Sunday, 1:00 PM: Notre Dame (17-6, 6-4) at North Carolina (20-4, 8-2) (@Greensboro, NC). After emerging as an early ACC title contender, the Fighting Irish have dropped three straight games and now must head to Greensboro to take on North Carolina in a delayed Super Bowl Sunday game as a result of Chapel Hill’s water crisis. Notre Dame has relied on terrific three-point shooting this season, hitting on nearly 40 percent on the year from long-range. In their last three losses, however, the Irish are just 17-of-56, a mark at just over 30 percent. North Carolina is the best offensive rebounding team in the country and Notre Dame just doesn’t have enough size to counter that advantage. Their only realistic chance in this game is to rediscover their hot outside shooting and hope Matt Farrell, VJ Beachem and Steve Vasturia can make enough threes to propel them to a huge quasi-road win.
Mick McDonald (70 Posts)

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