ACC Weekend Preview: January 27

Posted by Mick McDonald on January 27th, 2018

A pair of in-state matchups and a huge bubble game in South Bend would normally be enough excitement to make for an intriguing ACC weekend. Add in a top-five match-up that features the best offense against the best defense in college basketball and you have a weekend of ACC hoops that is absolutely must-see.

Saturday, January 27

What to Make of NC State Basketball This Season (USA Today Images)?

  • NC State (#74) at North Carolina (#8). Is there a more interesting NCAA Tournament resume than NC State? The Wolfpack own a neutral court win over Arizona to pair with home wins over Duke and Clemson. They’ve also somehow lost to Northern Iowa on a neutral court and UNC-Greensboro at home. And while taking care of business against a bad team (Pittsburgh) isn’t anything to write home about, it’s something many previous Wolfpack teams have struggled with. Kevin Keatts’ team is still in the NCAA mix mainly thanks to the leap from sophomore big man Omer Yurtseven. In eight ACC games, the young Turk has logged a 27.9 PER with a 62.1 percent eFG rate. In his last three games, Yurtseven is averaging 22.0 points and 6.0 rebounds per outing. Against a relatively inexperienced North Carolina frontcourt, look for Yurtseven to have another big game in one that could be closer than many think.
  • Virginia (#3) at Duke (#4). This might be the pre-Championship Week game of the year in college basketball. The best offensive team in the country will host the best defensive team in the country at (arguably) the toughest place to play in the entire sport. Giddy up. While there are countless individual match-ups worth watching, it’s impossible not to get excited about Marvin Bagley III facing off with his biggest challenge this season, Isaiah Wilkins. Wilkins, who should be a lock for ACC Defensive Player of the Year, leads the country in Defensive Win Shares (2.1) and is putting up an insane 77.2 Defensive Rating, second best in the country behind only Cincinnati’s Gary Clark. His versatility will allow him to follow Bagley out to the perimeter as well as defend him on the blocks. Meanwhile, Bagley’s 2.9 Offensive Win Shares are good for sixth in the nation as he converts over 60 percent of his shots from the field. Can we tip this one off now?

  • Miami (#29) at Florida State (#24). Three weeks ago, the Hurricanes topped the Seminoles by eight points in South Florida. In that game, Florida State shot just 36 percent from the field and made only 5-of-24 from long range. Miami can’t expect such a poor shooting night for a second time around, so it will need freshman Lonnie Walker to continue rounding into form. In his last four games, Walker is averaging 18.0 points per game while shooting 44 percent from long range. With Bruce Brown struggling to score lately, Jim Larranaga needs someone he can count on to get a bucket and Walker is becoming that player. However, the freshman scored just five points in the first match-up against the athletic Florida State defense.
  • Virginia Tech (#49) at Notre Dame (#30). Notre Dame has now lost four straight games, and Mike Brey has no idea when he’ll get All-American Bonzie Colson back in action, if at all. And yet, somehow, things have gotten worse. On Thursday night, news broke that senior point guard Matt Farrell is also out indefinitely with a bone bruise in his left ankle. That probably ends the Irish’s realistic NCAA Tournament chances, but if they want to keep their slim hopes alive, they certainly need to win this game against the Hokies. Their best chance against an undersized Virginia Tech team may be to ride Martinas Geben. In the Irish’s last four games, Geben is averaging 15.5 points and 11.0 rebounds per game. You can expect Brey to slow the game down and limit possessions, so look for most of those possessions to run through Geben as they try to stem the tide without their two best players.
Mick McDonald (70 Posts)

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