ACC Weekend Preview: December 22-23

Posted by Mick McDonald on December 22nd, 2017

As you get set for the holidays, don’t miss a few must-watch ACC games before Santa comes down the chimney. (All ratings are via KenPom and statistics are through the games of December 21)

Friday, December 22

Syracuse Needs Quality Wins (USA Today Images)

  • St. Bonaventure (#60) at Syracuse (#52). This is an important game as Syracuse works to put together its NCAA Tournament resume. Normally non-conference wins over former rivals Georgetown and Connecticut would sparkle, but the Hoyas and Huskies are both down this year. Currently all Syracuse has to its credit is a win over Maryland. The Bonnies feature a wonderful backcourt of Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley, but, as usual, Syracuse should have a significant advantage up front. Freshman power forward Oshae Brissett has put together a three-game stretch where he has averaged 23.3 points and 9.0 rebounds per game.
  • Miami (#14) at Hawaii (#211). The Hurricanes are off to the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii this weekend, where they’ll play three games on a Friday/Saturday/Monday schedule. The original hope with this trip five time zones away was to gain a few more chances at quality wins to counterbalance a light non-conference schedule. Instead, Miami will get a true road game against a sub-200 team (Hawaii), followed by a match-up with either Davidson (#83) or New Mexico State (#92). A potential match-up with USC in Christmas Day’s title game has also lost its luster given the Trojans’ recent struggles. Scheduling woes aside, we continue to be impressed by the play of Hurricanes’ sophomore center Dewan Huell. The big man has started to figure it out, putting up a 123.3 Offensive Rating and 28.5 PER to this point in the season. His game is by no means a finished product (an 11.3% defensive rebounding rate and a 15.1% turnover rate are issues), but he has at least become the big man that Jim Larranaga desperately needed coming into this season.

Saturday, December 23

Wake Forest — Trending Upward? (USA Today Images)

  • Tennessee (#28) at Wake Forest (#63). Don’t look now, but Danny Manning has won six straight games! Sure, his team’s best win came at home over a struggling Illinois (#94) squad, but when you’ve already lost to Georgia Southern, Liberty and Drake in the same season, any victory is a step in the right direction. The competition ramps up this weekend as a Tennessee team that nearly beat North Carolina last weekend comes to Winston-Salem. It will be interesting to see how Rick Barnes’ offense chooses to attack Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons allow opponents to shoot 39.6 percent from three-point range (326th nationally) and the Volunteers shoot a robust 39.1 percent from there. Pay special attention to Jordan Bowden (56.8%) and James Daniel (41%) in this game, the Volunteers’ two most likely candidates to get hot from long range.
  • Ohio State (#45) vs. North Carolina (#11). We still aren’t really sure what happened to North Carolina on Wednesday night against Wofford. The good news for Roy Williams’ bunch is they have a relatively quick turnaround and a chance to make amends Saturday in New Orleans against Ohio State. This game should feature an outstanding one-on-one matchup in Buckeyes’ forward Keita Bates-Diop (28.2 PER, 60.8% eFG) and Tar Heels’ defensive stopper Theo Pinson. Don’t be surprised if North Carolina plays more aggressively than normal on defense — Ohio State point guards CJ Jackson (19.5% turnover rate) and Andrew Dakich (34.4% turnover rate) have both been awful in taking care of the ball.
Mick McDonald (70 Posts)

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