College basketball: ACC this week
Published 7:01 pm Friday, February 27, 2015
A look at things to watch this week in the Atlantic Coast Conference:
GAME OF THE WEEKEND: Syracuse at No. 4 Duke. It’s always a big deal when the two winningest men’s coaches in Division I history meet, even though the Orange will sit out this postseason under self-imposed sanctions. The Blue Devils (25-3, 12-3) bring an eight-game winning streak that’s the longest active streak in the league, while Syracuse is coming off an upset of No. 9 Notre Dame. Maybe Jim Boeheim will stick around for the end of this one — he was memorably tossed in the final seconds last year after he tore off his jacket to argue a charging call.
LOOKING AHEAD: It’s been an up-and-down past few weeks for No. 17 Louisville, which has gone 3-3 during its past six games — with two of those wins by a combined three points — and dealt with guard Chris Jones’ suspension, reinstatement and subsequent permanent dismissal. The Cardinals (22-6, 10-5) play host to Notre Dame (24-5, 12-4) in a matchup of teams chasing two-round byes at the ACC tournament.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Few players have been hotter than Duke guard Quinn Cook, who had three 20-point games in an eight-day span. He scored 22 against North Carolina, had a career-best 27 against Clemson and added 21 of his 26 in the second half and overtime against Virginia Tech. He has played 209 of 210 possible minutes in the Blue Devils’ last five games, both because he’s playing at a high level and because his team only has eight scholarship players.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Virginia continues to get it done with defense. The Cavaliers lead the nation in scoring defense, allowing an average of 49.3 points — the third-lowest average since the shot clock was introduced in 1986 — and opposing teams shoot just 34.6 percent against them. They’ve held five of their last six opponents to fewer than 50 points, with Wake Forest’s 34 points on Wednesday night marking their fewest in a game at 26-year-old Joel Coliseum. That’s despite playing without injured starters Justin Anderson and London Perrantes. Coach Tony Bennett says he’s looking for “not perfection, but as close to excellence as we can get.”
ON THE WOMEN’S SIDE: There’s nothing easy about the back end of North Carolina State’s schedule. The Wolfpack close with three games against nationally ranked opponents. They won the first of those, knocking off then-No. 10 Duke last Sunday, and after a visit to No. 9 Florida State on Thursday night, they finish at home against No. 4 Notre Dame before the ACC tournament starts next Wednesday. “If we can keep everybody hitting on all cylinders like that,” second-year coach Wes Moore said after the Duke win, “who knows?”