ACC Weekend Preview: February 17-18

Posted by Mick McDonald on February 16th, 2018

Somehow, there are just three weekends of play left in the ACC regular season. While Virginia appears to have the regular season title locked up, there is still much to be decided below the Cavaliers in the standings. (All rankings via KenPom.)

Saturday, February 17

Not Even Jim Boeheim is Sure Where the Orange Are Headed (USA Today Images)

  • Syracuse (#50) at Miami (#37). The Orange suffered a home loss to NC State on Wednesday, one they may very well regret they let slip away on Selection Sunday. Syracuse currently has just one Q1 win (a road victory over Louisville) on its resume, so it still has significant work to do to make the NCAA Tournament. The good news? Plenty of opportunities remain, beginning with a trip to Miami tomorrow. The Syracuse defense has been stingy against ACC foes, as usual, allowing ACC opponents to shoot just 39.9 percent from the field (second in the ACC). The issue has been on the offensive end, where the Orange are making just 42.3 percent of their own shots. If they want to score enough to win key games down the stretch, they need Tyus Battle’s sidekick, Oshae Brissett, to continue his recent scoring pace. Over his past three games, Brissett is averaging 18.7 PPG and shooting 50 percent from the three-point line.
  • NC State (#55) at Wake Forest (#84). Ask any Wolfpack fan what comes after an important win? The answer would be a loss to a bad team. It has certainly been that way in much of NC State’s past, and has even reared its ugly head in Kevin Keatts’ first season at the helm in Raleigh (e.g., beat Arizona, lose to Northern Iowa.) So, forgive them if they aren’t exactly looking forward to a trip to Winston-Salem this weekend after an important road win at Syracuse earlier this week. NC State handled the Demon Deacons in Raleigh in mid-January, thanks to 22 points from Omer Yurtseven. And while the sophomore big man has been outstanding for most of this season, he has also begun to slow a bit. In his last four games, Yurtseven has averaged just 11.8 points and 6.5 rebounds per game while shooting 48.6 percent from the field (down from 59.5 percent on the season). Keatts will need his big man to have another big night if the Wolfpack are to avoid yet another letdown.

  • North Carolina (#10) at Louisville (#27). Remember when North Carolina had lost three straight games and the sky was falling in Chapel Hill? The Tar Heels have now reeled off four straight wins. A tough end-of-season schedule, featuring three games on the road, begins with a trip to Louisville tomorrow, however. It will feature one of the more intriguing matchups of the ACC season: Luke Maye against Louisville’s lengthy frontcourt. In ACC games, Maye has posted a ridiculous 123.1 Offensive Rating and a 27.7 PER, which includes three 30+ games against ACC opponents.  His ability to step out and hit the three (46.4 percent on the season) has made him nearly impossible to guard. Here’s hoping David Padgett plays a smaller lineup than normal and lets Ray Spalding take the challenge. Spalding’s Defensive Rating in ACC games (92.1) is nearly as absurd as Maye’s Offensive Rating. His athleticism and quickness should allow him to stick with Maye when he pops for threes, and his length could give him trouble on the interior.

Sunday, February 18

  • Duke (#5) at Clemson (#16). Will Marvin Bagley III play in this game? We’ll know more by Sunday, but if he doesn’t, it may mean more big things from Grayson Allen. In the past two games without the services of the freshman superstar, Allen has appeared more comfortable in averaging 24 points points per game fueld by 10 three-pointers. By contrast, the senior guard had made just eight treys in Duke’s previous five games. The question, though, as always for this Duke team, is defense. Clemson’s backcourt is perhaps the most underrated group in the country, and the key cog for the Tigers lately has been senior guard Gabe DeVoe. In their past five games, DeVoe is averaging over 20 PPG while shooting 58.1 percent from the field and 62.5 percent (that is not a typo) from long-distance. Coupled with Marcquise Reed, DeVoe has given Clemson a 1-2 scoring punch in the backcourt that could give Duke fits.
Mick McDonald (70 Posts)

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