This Weekend in the ACC: February 11Posted by Mick McDonald on February 11th, 2017
Here are a few things to keep your eye on around the ACC this weekend (all times Eastern).
Saturday, 1:00 PM: Clemson (13-10, 3-8 ACC) at Duke (19-5, 7-4 ACC) Someone call Kenny Loggins, because the Tigers have officially entered the Danger Zone. After losing at the buzzer to Syracuse to suffer yet another heart-breaking defeat at home, Clemson’s NCAA Tournament hopes are in big, big trouble. Sometimes you can pinpoint a specific reason why a team is struggling, but sometimes losing a handful of close games is nothing more than just bad luck. In Clemson’s six ACC games that have fallen within a five-point window, the Tigers are just 1-5. It’s difficult to imagine that anything less than a 5-2 finish will be good enough for Clemson to make a realistic run at the NCAA Tournament, and the immediate road ahead is filled with difficulty. Including today’s trip to Cameron Indoor Stadium, three of the Tigers next four games are on the road against NCAA Tournament-quality teams.
Saturday, 2:00 PM: Miami (16-7, 6-5) at Louisville (19-5, 7-4) This is an important game for both Louisville and Miami, but for very different reasons. The Hurricanes have won four of their last five contests and appear to be trending on the right side of the bubble — a road win over Louisville would do wonders for their Tournament resume. As for the Cardinals, point guard Quentin Snider is expected back in the lineup after missing six games with a hip injury. The junior was averaging 14.8 points and 5.3 assists per game over the last four games prior to his injury, so for a team with limited offensive capabilities, getting a healthy Snider back is incredibly important for the prospects of a championship season for Rick Pitino.
Saturday, 6:00 PM: Florida State (21-4, 9-3) at Notre Dame (18-7, 7-5) The Fighting Irish righted the ship on Tuesday night by outlasting Wake Forest in South Bend. With four very winnable games on the schedule between today’s game against the Seminoles and a season-ending trip to Louisville, it’s within reason to think Notre Dame could grab at least a share of the ACC regular season championship with a win tonight. A key will be senior wing Steve Vasturia. During Notre Dame’s recent four-game losing skid, Vasturia averaged fewer than 9.0 points per game and converted just 27 percent of his attempts from the field. Mike Brey had to breathe a sigh of relief on Tuesday night when Vasturia scored 17 points and made 3-of-5 from deep in the victory over Wake Forest. They’ll need him to produce if they want to take down Florida State today in South Bend.
Sunday, 6:30 PM: Virginia (18-5, 8-3) at Virginia Tech (16-7, 5-6) This game feels very similar to the Miami-Louisville game, with the location flipped in favor of the team that needs it more. To wit, a bubble team has a chance at a huge resume win, while a team near the top of the league has to take care of business to stay in the regular season title hunt. When these teams met just last week in Charlottesville, the Hokies were blown out of the gym thanks to 14 turnovers and a putrid 3-of-20 performance from three-point range. A 38.0 percent three-point shooting team this season, Buzz Williams’ club will need to make those long-range bombs much more frequently tonight to beat Virginia. In the Cavaliers’ three ACC losses, opponents have made 52 percent of their three-pointers. If Virginia Tech can make half of their threes at home, the Hokies should have a chance to add a massive win to their resume.