ACC Weekend Preview: January 13

Posted by Mick McDonald on January 13th, 2018

As we move into the middle of January, each weekend features games that will have a major impact on how the ACC will ultimately shake out. This long holiday weekend is no exception, with a pair of games featuring major bubble implications (already!) on the docket, and a chance for one team to stake its claim as a surprise ACC title contender. (All stats through games of January 11 and rankings via KenPom.)

Saturday, January 13

Leonard Hamilton Isn’t Worried About a 1-3 ACC Start (USA Today Images)

  • #45 Syracuse at #31 Florida State. Don’t be fooled by Florida State’s 1-3 ACC record. The Seminoles received a brutal schedule to start conference play, dropping games at Duke and Miami followed by a home loss to Louisville. None of those three losses alone are reason for concern, but the Seminoles need to address their recent shooting woes. Florida State has made just 27 percent of their attempts from long-range in the last two games, and Phil Cofer (42.3% 3FG on the season), in particular, has really struggled (2-of-10 3FG). Against Syracuse’s long and athletic zone defense, Leonard Hamilton will need Cofer to regain his form as the designated zone-buster. The Orange are likely to keep Florida State out of the paint, as Syracuse is allowing opponents to shoot just 42.0 percent from two-point range this season, the seventh best mark in college basketball.
  • #29 Miami at #14 Clemson. Is Clemson a legitimate ACC title contender? We are about to find out. The Tigers are 3-1 after losing to NC State in Raleigh Thursday night, but their schedule gets much tougher very quickly, beginning with this weekend’s visit from the Hurricanes. A key for Brad Brownell’s club this year has been the development of junior big man Elijah Thomas. He is posting a 26.6 PER and 63.1 percent effective field goal rate on the offensive end, while also becoming a dominant rebounder (26.1% defensive rebounding rate) and shot-blocker (11.8% block rate.) It will be fun to watch Thomas take on Miami’s much-improved big man Dewan Huell, who is posting an 85.8 Defensive Rating and shoos 65.6 percent from the field. Huell was terrific in the Hurricanes’ recent win over Florida State, scoring 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting while grabbing eight rebounds.

  • #47 Virginia Tech at #37 Louisville. Earlier this week, Louisville got a massive road win against Florida State, and Virginia Tech looks to do the exact same thing this weekend in the Bluegrass State. This match-up features an intriguing clash in styles. The Cardinals are one of the best teams in college basketball in defending the three-pointer, with opponents shooting just 30.2 percent against them (16th nationally). Meanwhile, Virginia Tech shoots 40.3 percent from long-range, good for 23rd nationally. Something has to give. It will be interesting to see if Buzz Williams plays with a four-guard lineup to try and draw Louisville’s bigs (who are excellent shot-blockers) away from the rim and create driving lanes.
  • #10 North Carolina at #19 Notre Dame. Just like last weekend versus Syracuse, the Fighting Irish went to Atlanta this week without the services of injured stars Matt Farrell and Bonzie Colson. This time, however, Notre Dame could not escape with a win. Farrell’s status remains up in the air, but the Irish need him back soon given an upcoming stretch that features road trips to Duke and Clemson along with a home game versus Louisville. With Colson out until March, Senior Martinas Geben has stepped up. He scored 16 points and grabbed nine rebounds against Georgia Tech, and has been effective when asked to score this year (62.8% eFG). He’ll go head to head with North Carolina big man Luke Maye, who Virginia shut down but got back to form against Boston College earlier this week, scoring 32 points on 13-of-20 shooting.
Mick McDonald (70 Posts)

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