A look at the upcoming week around the Atlantic Coast Conference:
GAME OF THE WEEKEND
No. 13 Louisville at No. 3 Duke on Saturday. Louisville and Duke are in a three-way tie with No. 9 Florida State for first place in the league standings. The Cardinals and Blue Devils meet for the only time in the regular season at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Cardinals (14-3, 5-1) are 3-1 on the road, with their only setback coming by 78-70 in overtime at No. 10 Kentucky on Dec. 28. Duke is 8-1 at home, with its only loss coming against Stephen F. Austin on Nov. 26. The Blue Devils (15-2, 5-1) will be looking to bounce back from a 79-72 loss at Clemson on Tuesday night. Louisville is 1-2 against teams ranked in the top 25 when they met, and Duke is 2-0 against teams that were ranked when they met.
After a very slow start to the season, a 34-point effort in a home loss to Virginia, Syracuse seems to be hitting a much more characteristic stride. The key for the Orange, besides their famous zone, is the scoring trip of Elijah Hughes, Buddy Boeheim and freshman point guard Joseph Girard. The three combined for 51 of the Orange’s 60 points in an overtime victory at Virginia on Jan. 11 and followed that with a combined 53 points in a 76-50 victory against Boston College on Wednesday night. Coach Jim Boeheim’s team (10-7, 3-3) will try to avenge a 67-63 loss to Virginia Tech (13-4, 4-2) at home when they visit the Hokies on Saturday. The Orange then head onto the road to face struggling Notre Dame (11-6, 2-4) on Wednesday night.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Virginia Tech’s Landers Nolley is turning the ACC Freshman of the Week award into a personal possession. The redshirt freshman has won it five times already this season and started this week with a 21-point effort in the Hokies’ 80-70 victory at Wake Forest on Monday night. Nolley sat out last season under Buzz Williams, put his name in the transfer portal when Williams left for Texas A&M after the season and decided to stay after meeting new coach Mike Young.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
Virginia is still playing some of the best defense in the country, but the loss of the Cavaliers’ three best players — and best 3-point shooters — to the NBA after last season has left a gaping hole in their offense. Three players expected to help fill that void — junior college transfer Tomas Woldetensae, sophomore Kody Stattmann and freshman Casey Morsell — have actually been better on defense than offense. Woldetensae is 17 for 52 on 3s, or 31.5%. Stattmann is 7 of 38 (18.4%) and Morsell is 9 of 62 (14.5%). As a team, the Cavaliers are shooting 26.5% from beyond the arc.
ON THE WOMEN’S SIDE
The conference has only three teams in the Top 25, and two others receiving votes, making the stretch North Carolina is in easily the hardest of the season. The Tar Heels beat No. 9 N.C. State last week before losing to No. 11 Florida State in Seminoles coach Sue Semrau’s 200th ACC victory. The Heels were at home against Miami, one of the teams receiving top 25 votes, on Thursday night and were to host No. 5 Louisville on Sunday afternoon.
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