No. 9 Duke’s trip to Louisville headlines ACC’s week ahead

Published 4:34 pm Friday, January 28, 2022

By AARON BEARD

AP Basketball Writer

A look at the upcoming week around the Atlantic Coast Conference:

GAME OF THE WEEKEND

No. 9 Duke at Louisville noon Saturday. The Blue Devils (16-3, 6-2) remain the league’s only AP Top 25 team and now they’re headed to an unusual circumstance by facing a team fresh off a midseason coaching change. Assistant Mike Pegues will act as the interim coach for the Cardinals (11-9, 5-5) after the school and head coach Chris Mack announced Wednesday they had agreed to part ways.

Pegues led the team to a 5-1 start while Mack was sidelined by a six-game school suspension, but his team is reeling by losing five of six entering a matchup with Mike Krzyzewski’s Blue Devils led by freshman star Paolo Banchero (17.9 points).

LOOKING AHEAD

The Blue Devils visit Notre Dame on Monday in a light schedule to start next week, with the Fighting Irish (13-6, 6-2) sitting near the top of the league standings by carrying a three-game winning streak into Saturday’s visit from Virginia.

PLAYER TO WATCH

Oklahoma transfer Alondes Williams has been an immediate star for second-year Wake Forest coach Steve Forbes. The 6-foot-5 graduate is leading the league in scoring at 20.4 points, including consecutive games of 25 points against both Syracuse and Duke this month. He’ll lead the Demon Deacons (17-4, 6-3) in Saturday’s visit to the Orange.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS

The league ranks as the sixth-best conference in KenPom’s national rankings, with only Duke (14th) and Miami (18th) ranked in the site’s top 20 for adjusted offensive efficiency and no team inside the top 20 for defense as of Friday. … North Carolina’s Armando Bacot is third nationally in rebounding (12.1 per game) and second in double-doubles (15). … The ACC has five teams shooting at least 37% from 3-point range: Virginia Tech (39.4, sixth nationally), Clemson (38.7, 12th), Notre Dame (37.6), Duke (37.4) and UNC (37.0). … Led by first-year coach Earl Grant, Boston College hosts Pittsburgh on Saturday. A win would give the Eagles (8-11, 3-6) their third win in January, a number they have reached once (2018) in the previous 10 seasons.

 

ON THE WOMEN’S SIDE

Third-ranked North Carolina State’s home win against No. 5 Louisville on Jan. 20 has given the preseason league favorite Wolfpack firm control of the league race.

With only one head-to-head matchup on the schedule, N.C. State (18-2, 9-0) owns the tiebreaker on the Cardinals (17-2, 7-1). The Wolfpack won last year’s lone regular-season meeting, but the Cardinals earned the regular-season title by percentage points after teams played unequal numbers of games last season amid COVID-19 postponements and cancellations.

N.C. State went on to beat Louisville in the championship game of the league tournament for a second straight title. Wes Moore’s club is now trying to win the regular-season race for the first time since the 1989-90 season.
Both teams return to action Sunday, with N.C. State visiting rival North Carolina and Louisville hosting No. 21 Duke.

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Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at https://twitter.com/aaronbeardap

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