ACC Stock Report: Volume VI

Posted by Matt Auerbach on February 19th, 2019

With Virginia’s win over Virginia Tech on Monday night, North Carolina is now in position to create a three-way tie at first place in the ACC standings with an upset victory at Duke on Wednesday. 

Stock Rising

Florida State is Riding High Again (USA Today Images)

Florida State: Just one short month ago, the Seminoles blew a 10-point halftime lead at Boston College to extend their losing streak to three games. That defeat dropped Florida State to 1-4 in ACC play and out of the national polls. With a promising season circling the drain, Leonard Hamilton’s veteran squad has responded by winning every game since. In ripping off those seven consecutive wins, Florida State has vaulted itself back into the second tier of the league behind Virginia, North Carolina and Duke. Only a dramatic comeback overtime victory over Louisville and a nine-point handling of Clemson were close games. In typical fashion, the Seminoles are winning with balance, depth, length and defensive acumen. Five different players have led the team in scoring over the past seven games, and only the Cardinals reached 70 points against their top-20 defense.

Sophomore Mfiondu Kabengele has been a revelation, leading the Seminoles in scoring despite not starting a single game. Senior Terrance Mann is the only other player averaging in double figures, but Florida State’s lack of an explosive scorer is made up in the balance of having eight guys notching 6.5 points per game or better. The Seminoles face a stiff test in keeping its current winning streak alive, as a trip to a desperate Clemson team looms tonight followed by a visit to Chapel Hill. But, with a split, and with all of its final four games coming in Tallahassee and at Wake Forest, Hamilton’s squad could find itself right where most envisioned prior to its slow start — as the #4 seed heading into the ACC Tournament.

Stock Holding

Coby White is a Difference Maker for UNC (USA Today Sports)

Coby White: It is rare event when a North Carolina freshman as dynamic, charismatic and proficient as Coby White can fly so far under the radar. But this particular Tar Heel, for the most part, has been spectacular this season. He has provided Roy Williams with the ball-pushing, explosive point guard that he requires to make the North Carolina offense hum — capable of creating his own offense (2.4 three-point field goals per game) and facilitating for others (5.5 assists per game over the last eight). Driven by White’s stellar play, the Tar Heels’ only loss over the last month came against Virginia, as the freshman struggled against the Cavaliers’ longer defenders down the stretch. He will be matched up with Duke’s Tre Jones — a superb on-the-ball defender — tomorrow night, and how White handles that individual match-up will be a major determinant on whether his team can spring the upset to forge a three-way tie atop the ACC standings.

Stock Falling

Louisville Barely Survived Clemson Over the Weekend (USA Today Images)

Louisville’s game closing ability: Chris Mack’s team has undeniably overachieved relative to its preseason expectations, and good for the Cardinals, as Mack is a likable coach and the team has been a really nice story to track. But they could have really used Mariano Rivera on the roster last week.

Last Saturday, the Cardinals led Florida State by seven points with less than five minutes to play, only to lose in overtime. That was child’s play compared to the 23-point lead that it blew against a Duke team it had dominated for the first three quarters of their midweek contest. On Saturday, the Cardinals all but gift-wrapped another win for the opposition, blowing a seven-point advantage with 17 seconds remaining when Jordan Nwora inbounded the ball directly into the arms of Clemson’s Marcquise Reed. Luckily for Mack’s sanity, Nwora recovered to block the game-winner, as the Cardinals avoided a third straight devastating collapse.

Louisville is safely in the NCAA Tournament field as of today, but, with a trip to Syracuse and a home-and-home with Virginia remaining, the Cardinals need to right the shakiness of their ship down the stretch. A once very promising campaign could completely go up in smoke if Mack cannot solve what is happening to his team in the closing minutes of these games. The Louisville team we saw for thirty minutes against Duke can beat anyone in the country. The one we have seen finish the last three contests, however, is capable of losing its final five regular season games.

Matthew Auerbach (70 Posts)

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