ACC Stock Watch: February 7Posted by Mick McDonald on February 7th, 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.
Syracuse. The Orange have won seven of their past 10 games, including victories over Florida State and Virginia during a current four-game winning streak. A key for an improving Syracuse team has been that this collection of transfers and freshmen are finally starting to understand how to play Jim Boeheim’s zone defense. On Saturday, Syracuse clearly flustered Virginia in the second half, forcing the Cavaliers into a 22.3 percent turnover rate, their highest of the season. Another factor has been the emergence of Andrew White III as the team’s go-to scorer. White has now scored 20 or more points in four straight games, all Orange victories. Over that stretch, the senior is shooting 50 percent from the field, 40.5 percent from three-point range and 88.5 percent from the free throw line. White’s newfound role as the primary scoring option, along with other capable offensive players like John Gillon, Tyus Battle and Tyler Lydon, make Syracuse a dangerous team down the stretch. The Orange should have no trouble piling up enough wins to make the NCAA Tournament.
John Collins, Wake Forest. As the Demon Deacons continue their quest to return to the NCAA Tournament following a seven-year drought, the play of sophomore center John Collins is without question the reason for their success. He has quickly become the best big man in the ACC this season, and has turned it up a notch recently over his last six outings — averaging 22.8 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game while shooting 68.1 percent from the field. Head coach Danny Manning knows a little something about a big man carrying a team deep in to March. He’ll need Collins to perform a few miracles of his own to get Wake Forest back into the NCAA Tournament with an opportunity to advance.
Florida State. After losing consecutive road games last week, Florida State righted the ship with an easy victory over Miami in Coral Gables and an absolute demolition of Clemson on Sunday. The Seminoles now sit just one game behind North Carolina at the top of the ACC standings. The best news for Leonard Hamilton is that it appears his dynamic offense is back in action. After posting Offensive Ratings of 98.6 or lower in three straight games (a win over Louisville and the two losses on the road), the Seminoles have since posted a 127.1 against Miami and a season-high 147.3 against Clemson.
Georgia Tech. No matter what happens during the rest of this season, Josh Pastner’s first year in Atlanta will be considered a success. He managed to turn a team that everyone thought would finish last or next-to-last in the ACC into a legitimate NCAA Tournament contender. That said, what Georgia Tech needs to beef up its resume is a few more wins away from home. Last week provided a pair of opportunities at Clemson and Wake Forest, but the Yellow Jackets did not appear very competitive in either game. Their offense sputtered, shooting 1-of-11 from three-point range and committing 17 turnovers against Clemson, and then shooting 35.7 percent from the field against Wake Forest. Georgia Tech has three road trips remaining. It would be difficult to envision Pastner’s club making the NCAA Tournament without winning at least one of the trio of games at Miami, Notre Dame or Syracuse.
NC State. While Georgia Tech is a season-long feel-good story that happened to have a bad week, NC State at this point is more of a “dumpster fire that you just can’t look away from.” The Wolfpack have now lost three straight games and seven of nine. Four of those losses came at home, and that win at Cameron Indoor Stadium over Duke feels like it happened several months ago. It’s no surprise that defense is what has let NC State down. Over the last three games, the Wolfpack have allowed opponents to shoot a combined 52 percent from the field and 53.5 percent from three-point range. This week features trips to Florida State and Wake Forest, two of the better offensive teams in the league. Things appear like they could get much uglier before they get better for Mark Gottfried’s group in Raleigh.