ACC Weekend Preview: February 16

Posted by Mick McDonald on February 15th, 2019

While this weekend doesn’t feature a signature showdown in ACC play, it still provides plenty of intrigue for the many teams vying for NCAA Tournament position. Rush the Court ACC writer Mick McDonald (@themickmcdonald) gets you set. (All rankings via KenPom)

Saturday, February 16

Can Louisville Recover From Its Meltdown? (USA Today Images)
  • #32 Clemson (15-9, 5-6) at #13 Louisville (17-8, 8-4). While Louisville’s collapse against Duke got most of the attention around the ACC this week, it was Clemson that suffered more long-term damage with its loss to Miami. Clemson had been grinding opponents down, holding their previous three opponents under 35 percent in effective field goal percentage, but in their loss this week, Brad Brownell’s club allowed Miami (48.1% eFG) far too many easy baskets. A positive sign for the Tigers has been the recent play of Shelton Mitchell. In his last three games, Mitchell (15.0 PPG, 46.9 FG%, 44.4% 3FG) has become the necessary complement to Marcquise Reed that Clemson expected to have this season. They’ll need both Mitchell and Reed at the top of their games when they face the defensive ball-pressure facilitated by Louisville’s backcourt.
  • #22 Florida State (19-5, 7-4) at #99 Georgia Tech (11-14, 3-9). Here come the Seminoles… Leonard Hamilton’s club has now reeled off six consecutive victories, and in typical Florida State fashion, they are getting significant contributions from different players every night. Against Wake Forest earlier this week, Christ Koumadje scored 20 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and shot 10-of-12 from the field in a dominant victory over the Demon Deacons. Last weekend in a win over Louisville, Terrance Mann scored 20 points while knocking down three-of-four of his attempts from long distance. In their previous win against Syracuse, Mfiondu Kabengele notched 18 points and eight rebounds while making 7-of-10 shots from the floor. Florida State has lots of different ways to win games, which makes them well positioned for another deep run in March.
  • #11 Virginia Tech (19-5, 8-4) at #85 Pittsburgh (12-13, 2-10). While the Hokies righted the ship earlier this week in beating Georgia Tech, they are clearly missing injured Justin Robinson. In Virginia Tech’s first 20 games with its star point guard, the Hokies shot 50.3 percent from the field and 42.6 percent from long-distance. In the four games since his injury, Buzz Williams’ club is making just 38.8 percent from the floor and 36.2 percent from three-point range. Their suffering without Robinson has been most noticeable in the performance of Nickeil Alexander-Walker. Alexander-Walker (35.6 FG%, 4.5 turnovers per game) has seen his production take a hit since the Hokies’ floor general has been forced to the sidelines. They’ll need him to pick his game up for a tricky trip to Pittsburgh, where Jeff Capel’s Panthers have already knocked off Florida State and Louisville.
  • #39 NC State (18-7, 6-6) at #1 Duke (22-2, 10-1). It’s been quite a week for Duke, huh? The Blue Devils’ incredible shooting performance at Virginia and the comeback for the ages at Louisville were important, but the bigger story has been the recent play of Cam Reddish. Remember when everyone was worried if he could become a significant contributor? So much for that. In Duke’s last five games, Reddish (18.4 PPG, 42.6% FG, 39.2% 3FG) has become the dynamic third scorer Mike Krzyzewski was expecting. When he is draining shots from long-distance, it opens up the lane for RJ Barrett and Zion Williamson to work their magic while making the Duke offense effectively unguardable. Combine that with a generally underrated defense led by the intense ball pressure of Tre Jones, and you’ve got a team that has the look of one that can answer any challenge in March.
Mick McDonald (70 Posts)

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