ACC Weekend Preview: January 6-7

Posted by Mick McDonald on January 5th, 2018

Conference season is underway and this weekend does not lack for intriguing action around the ACC. Duke looks to show it can win on the road; Miami hopes to bounce back; and there’s a heavyweight match-up to consider in Charlottesville. (All statistics through games of January 4 and all rankings via KenPom.)

Saturday, January 6

Virginia Just Keeps On Keeping On (USA Today Images)

  • North Carolina (#12) at Virginia (#3). In one of the best games of this weekend, Virginia welcomes North Carolina to Charlottesville. While the Tar Heels play a fast tempo that produces 84.9 points per game (26th nationally), they are also aa solid defensive team, allowing just 43.5 percent from two-point range (29th). Combine that with Virginia’s normally excellent defense (allowing 40.9 percent from two-point range and 39.4 percent from the field) and this should be a rock fight. We know Devon Hall and Kyle Guy are Tony Bennett‘s scorers this season, but finding a third option has been solved. In his last four games, point guard Ty Jerome has averaged 17.8 PPG while shooting 57.8 percent from the field and 66.7 percent from three-point range.
  • Louisville (#39) at Clemson (#18). Clemson put together a solid non-conference resume last year but the Tigers were done in by close loss after close loss in ACC play. So you can imagine what Tiger fans were thinking as Clemson played in yet another tight game at Boston College on Wednesday night. However, Brad Brownell’s bunch kept it together down the stretch this time and left Chestnut Hill with a win (which is more than Duke can say). Senior Donte Grantham continued his impressive campaign, scoring 23 points and grabbing 14 rebounds in the victory. The Tigers will need both Grantham (67.7% eFG) and Elijah Thomas (64.0% eFG) to be precise around the rim against Louisville’s stellar front line defense of Anas Mahmoud and Ray Spalding. After a rough start to the season, Cardinals point guard Quentin Snider is coming on, shooting 41.7 percent from three-point range over his last nine games. Louisville will need Snider to continue his hot shooting given that the team makes just 33.7 percent of its attempts from long range (232nd nationally.)

  • Duke (#5) at NC State (#90). The Blue Devils took care of business at Cameron Indoor Stadium against Florida State last weekend and now head on the road to visit the Wolfpack in Raleigh. There will be many questions about how Duke will handle a road environment after dropping its ACC opener last month at Boston College. However, this match-up is a particularly tough one for Kevin Keatts’ team. To beat Duke, NC State will need to knock down outside shots despite shooting just 33.1 percent (253rd nationally) from long-range. In addition, the Wolfpack will need Lennard Freeman (72.2% eFG) and Omer Yurtseven (64.3% eFG) to get to work in the post and try to get Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter in foul trouble. Finally, they’ll need the Blue Devils to revisit their tendency to fall in love with the three-pointer again. In their two ACC games so far this season, Trevon Duval and Grayson Allen have combined to shoot just 5-of-27 from distance.

Sunday, January 7

  • Florida State (#26) at Miami (#28). We know Josh Pastner’s defense can throw teams for a loop from time to time, but Miami’s loss at Georgia Tech Wednesday night was really ugly. The Hurricanes committed 18 turnovers, made just 4-of-19 shots from long range and shot just 37.5% from the field. After playing a soft non-conference schedule, that loss leaves us with more questions than answers about the Hurricanes. And the first question is: What’s going on with Bruce Brown? He missed two games with an injured hand but perhaps it’s still bothering him. In his past five games, Brown is shooting just 41.2 percent from the field and 12.5 percent from three-point range. Against an athletic Florida State team that can score against good defenses, Jim Larranaga desperately needs a breakout game from the very capable Brown.
Mick McDonald (70 Posts)

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