ACC Weekend Preview: December 1-3

Posted by Mick McDonald on December 1st, 2017

After overwhelming the Big Ten this week by a final tally of 11-3, the ACC now moves into a weekend that features a handful of very interesting non-conference tilts. (All ratings are via KenPom and statistics are through games of November 30)

Friday, December 1

  • North Carolina (#12) vs. Davidson (#77). Two of the highest-scoring teams in the country (both coming in at over 85.0 PPG) will face off tonight in Charlotte in what promises to be a very fast-paced affair. Tar Heels point guard Joel Berry II has improved his scoring (career-high 20.0 PPG) thanks to tempo and opportunity, but he is clearly still shaking off some rust from an early-season hand injury — logging career lows in shooting (34.1 FG% and 35.9% from three-point range). While his shooting should improve over time, he has been terrific in taking care of the ball (career-low 6.9% turnover rate) and will have an opportunity to find his touch against a Davidson team that is allowing opponents to shoot 38.4% from from behind the three-point line.

Saturday, December 2

Ahmed Hill has led a prolific Hokies offense early on. Can it continue as the competition picks up? (Hokie Sports)

  • Virginia Tech (#37) at Mississippi (#60).  A road contest at Ole Miss will represent the biggest challenge faced by Buzz Williams’ team so far this season. Both teams are guard-oriented and love to shoot the three, with the Hokies’ scorching 46.8 percent mark good for fourth nationally. With the caveat that Virginia Tech’s competition this far has been bad, not enough has been said about the play of Ahmed Hill this season. The junior wing is shooting the lights out, with marks of 63.9% FG, 54.3% 3FG and an insane 73.8% eFG. His elite offensive performance alongside guards Justin Bibbs and Nickeil Alexander-Walker has made Williams’ offense especially dangerous. Those three will need to outperform a loaded Rebels’ backcourt that features Terence Davis (61.8% eFG) and Deandre Burnett (45.2% 3FG).

  • Syracuse (#53) vs. Kansas (#1). This game is part of the Hoophall Miami Invitational located in South Florida. Yes, that’s right, Syracuse will play a non-conference game outside of the state of New York! The Orange have to hope their suffocating zone defense (holding opponents to 37.1% FG, third nationally) travels with them. The length of two freshmen (6’8” Oshae Brissett and 6’9” Marek Dolezaj) has made it very difficult for opponents to find holes in the zone, but it may not matter if Kansas continues to shoot so well from long distance. The Jayhawks come into this game as the eighth-best three-point shooting team in the country at 45.2 percent, even with star point guard Devonte’ Graham making a career-low 36.1 percent.

Sunday, December 3

Louisville needs point guard Quentin Snider to improve if they plan to make noise in the ACC. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

  • Seton Hall (#24) at Louisville (#23). The Cardinals’ offense was ugly (36.5% eFG) in their first real test of the season at Purdue earlier this week. The most troubling part for Louisville, however, is the continued inconsistent play from point guard Quentin Snider. Snider is shooting a dreadful 29.5 percent from the field this season and is turning the ball over (16.1% TO rate) at a career-high clip. This match-up between former Big East foes will feature another highly-touted point guard not living up to preseason hype in Seton Hall’s Khadeen Carrington. The senior shot 38.2 percent from three last year but has hit on just 6-of-24 attempts this season.
  • Tennessee (#27) at Georgia Tech (#63). The Yellow Jackets will first take on Grambling on Friday night before hosting the Volunteers in Atlanta Sunday evening. This game is notable because it marks the return of star forward Josh Okogie, who has been suspended for the first six games of the season. Okogie (16.1 PPG, 38.4% 3FG last season) will certainly boost Georgia Tech’s offense, but head coach Josh Pastner will be most excited to add his toughness to the lineup. The Volunteers don’t have a lot of size in its frontcourt this season, but they play as physical as any team in college basketball. Just ask Purdue, a team which Rick Barnes’ group bullied in an upset victory at the Battle 4 Atlantis. Keep an eye on undersized Volunteers’ forward Grant Williams (26.7 PER), who stands just 6’5” but weighs 234 pounds and rarely gets outmuscled around the rim.
Mick McDonald (70 Posts)

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