ACC Weekend Preview: December 8-10 Edition

Posted by Mick McDonald on December 8th, 2017

It is expected to be a relatively quiet weekend in the ACC, but don’t miss the first conference game of the season and a couple more sneaky good matchups (all ratings are via KenPom and statistics are through the games of December 7).

Saturday, December 9

Duke is All Smiles Entering ACC Play at #1 (USA Today Images)

  • Duke (#5) at Boston College (#95). Look, a real live ACC game in early December! Boston College figures to finish near the bottom of the ACC once again this season, but that should not take away from the fact that the Eagles are much improved. A big part of the reason for that improvement was Illinois State graduate transfer Deontae Hawkins, who had gotten off to a terrific start prior to an untimely right knee injury that ended his season. That, once again, leaves the Eagles dangerously thin in the frontcourt and therefore exceptionally vulnerable against all the size of Duke. Speaking of which, Marvin Bagley III has been sensational but not enough has been said about his fellow freshman Wendell Carter. Carter has been nearly as efficient in scoring as Bagley (63.5% eFG to Bagley’s 63.8%) and is a slightly better rebounder (23.6% to 23.5% DRB; 14.4% to 13.9% ORB) to this point. Having two big men playing at such a high level of productivity gives Mike Krzyzewski several options and helps protect Duke if either gets into foul trouble. Without Hawkins available, Jim Christian’s team simply may not have enough bodies up front to pull off what would be a season-defining upset.

  • Indiana (#84) at Louisville (#26). After consecutive losses to Purdue and Seton Hall, the Cardinals righted their ship earlier this week by pounding Siena. On Saturday they’ll welcome an interesting group of Hoosiers to the Yum! Center. The key here will be if Indiana can knock down a sufficient number of perimeter shots to open up the middle — as a team, the Hoosiers are shooting just 33.7 percent from three-point range this season (225th nationally). The problem is that Louisville shuts down the paint — allowing just 39.4 percent shooting from its opponents in the two-point range (third nationally). The long-armed interior combination of elite defenders Ray Spalding (7.5% block rate) and Anas Mahmoud (16.2%) make it very difficult to get clean looks at the rim. Given Indiana’s issue with perimeter shooting, this could spell trouble for Archie Miller’s bunch.
  • West Virginia (#10) at Pittsburgh (#159). Somebody break up Pitt! After beginning the season a laughable 1-4, Kevin Stallings’ club has now won four straight games. Sure, the only team of those four ranking among the KenPom top 200 is Lehigh (#198), but when your resume already shows losses to Navy and Montana, the Oakland Zoo will take it. Making it five in a row will be a much bigger challenge, however, as Bob Huggins’ Mountaineers come to town in a regional rivalry game. How can the Panthers pull off the huge upset? As with any West Virginia opponent, it starts with taking good care of the ball. The Mountaineers are thus far turning over their opponents on an incredible 28.5 percent of their offensive possessions (second nationally). Pittsburgh point guard Marcus Carr has already struggled with taking care of the ball (23.0 TO rate) and will need to be much more under control in order to give his team a chance Saturday. His counterpart, West Virginia point guard Jevon Carter, has been sensational this year. In a brilliant performanceover Virginia this week, Carter scored 23 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and notched seven assists. Already known as a terrific defender, Carter is putting up career-best offensive numbers (29.8 PER, 127.5 ORtg) and making a push for All-America consideration.
Mick McDonald (70 Posts)

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