With January in the rear view mirror, eight ACC teams have a conference record of .500 or better, and all are still in the running for the NCAA tournament. The other four teams are a longshot at this point, but they proved over the last week that they are still very capable of competing with the rest of the conference.
Things are still jumbled at the top. Duke is on top, which is no surprise, though they hardly looked like world beaters at Georgetown over the weekend. The Blue Devils are having a lot of trouble on the road this year.
Despite the loss to Georgetown, Duke is the only team in the conference that is on a current winning streak in ACC play. The Blue Devils have won two ACC games in a row. No one else in the league currently has a streak longer than one win, and that really can’t be considered a streak. It’s the perfect example of how up and down the ACC is this year.
Here are the ACC Games that will be played this week:
Miami at Wake Forest, Feb. 2, 7pm, ESPN2
NC State at Virginia, Feb. 3, 7pm, ESPNU
Georgia Tech at Duke, Feb. 4, 7pm, ESPN2
Maryland at Florida State, Feb. 4, 9pm, Raycom
North Carolina at Virginia Tech, Feb. 4, 9pm, Raycom
Wake Forest at Virginia, Feb. 6, Noon, Raycom
Duke at Boston College, Feb. 6, 2pm, ESPN
Clemson at Virginia Tech, Feb. 6, 4pm, Raycom
NC State at Georgia Tech, Feb. 6, 4pm, Raycom
Miami at Florida State, Feb. 6, 8pm, ESPNU
North Carolina at Maryland, Feb. 7, 2pm, FSU
There are a number of good games this week, including plenty of action featuring NCAA bubble teams squaring off head to head. The action starts tonight, when Miami heads to Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons will be looking to avenge their one-point loss at Miami earlier this month, while the Canes will look to keep the hot shooting they had against Virginia Tech going for another game.
Game of the Past Week
There were more blowouts than usual around the league this past week. The best game to watch was Wednesday night’s Virginia-Virginia Tech game. The Hokies went to Charlottesville and found themselves down 22-10, but rallied to take a 28-27 lead into halftime.
Tech ran into more adversity in the second half when Jeff Allen was ejected for a very questionable flagrant foul, and the Hokies were losing by 10 points with just under three minutes remaining. Seth Greenberg’s squad managed to come back and take a 65-62 lead before Sammy Zeglinski’s miracle three-pointer at the buzzer tied the game.
Unfazed by the tough break, the Hokies used their “overtime is our time” mantra and dominated the final five minutes, beating the Hoos 76-71 to earn the big road win.
Game of the Upcoming Week
Georgia Tech and Duke play in Durham on Thursday. The game will be televised by ESPN2 at 7pm. Duke lost on the road to the Yellow Jackets earlier in the year, and they’ll be looking for revenge at home. The Blue Devils are much better at home, but Georgia Tech matches up well, particularly on the inside.
Check it out, if you can’t make the Tech-UNC game. Georgia Tech has a solid mix of youth and experience, and their strong freshman class will be challenged by their first trip to Cameron Indoor Stadium.
The ACC’s Most Improved Player
The Carolina media will tell you that the most improved player in the ACC is Duke’s Nolan Smith. However, you could make the same claim for Virginia Tech wing Dorenzo Hudson. Hudson has improved his scoring average from 4.6 points per game as a sophomore to 13.5 as a junior. In conference play, Hudson is averaging 17 points per game, which ranks #7 in the ACC.
A guy who has struggled with his shooting in the past, Hudson is ninth in the ACC in field goal percentage (45.3%) and seventh in three-point percentage (37.5%). Again, those stats are for conference games only.
Over his last four ACC games, Hudson is averaging 19.3 points per game.
He is just over 50% from the field in that span, going 29-of-57. During those four games, he’s made seven or eight field goals in each outing, and attempted 14 or 15 field goals each time. He’s the model of consistency right now. He’s also 11-of-21 from three-point range, again over 50%. Dorenzo saw a big basket in the month of January.
Road Wins Still Hard to Come By
There were 10 games between ACC teams in the last week, and the home team won seven of them. The three teams with big road wins were Virginia Tech at Virginia, North Carolina at NC State and Virginia at North Carolina.
Going on the road in the ACC is hard, even at teams who are in the bottom part of the standings and don’t sell out their arena. Clemson and Virginia Tech found out the hard way this past week. The Tigers were coming off an emotionally draining home loss to Duke, and went on the road to Boston College and lost 75-69.
On Sunday, the Hokies went to Miami and were beaten 82-75 by a Miami team that had lost four games in a row. As soon as you’re feeling good about yourself in the ACC, all it takes is a road trip to remind you that you aren’t quite as good as you think you are.
In case you didn’t notice, North Carolina is just 13-8 overall and 2-4 in the ACC. The defending National Champs are running a serious risk of not making the NCAA tournament.
UNC has to play at Virginia Tech on Thursday night at 9pm. The Tar Heels are coming off their latest loss, a 75-60 whipping at the hands of Virginia in the Dean Dome. Roy Williams claims that he’s trying everything he knows how to do to get his team to play better, but apparently it’s not working right now.
The game Thursday night is basically a must-win for North Carolina. If they drop to 2-5 in the ACC, they can forget about the Big Dance. They still have two games against Duke, road trips to Maryland, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest, as well as a home game with Florida State.
Considering that upcoming schedule, UNC is probably already done. But a loss in Blacksburg would probably seal the deal a little bit early.
Player of the Week
Virginia’s Sylven Landesberg is one of the best players in the ACC, and he gave North Carolina all sorts of trouble on Sunday night. Landesberg finished the game with 29 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals. The 6-6 wing torched the Tar Heels, and he averaged 23.5 points over the course of the week.