ACC Basketball: Thursday Night Preview

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UPDATE Thursday, 1:40 PM: Virginia Tech will again be without leading scorer Justin Bibbs against #8 Notre Dame due to lingering concussion symptoms.

Three games comprise the ACC basketball slate on Thursday night, as two of the nation’s Top 10 teams are in action, with another intriguing game between two unranked teams finalizing the Conference schedule for the evening. Let’s take a look at what to expect from all three match-ups.

The Match-Up

#8 Notre Dame (17-2, 5-1, RPI: 39) Vs. Virginia Tech (8-9, 0-4, RPI: 234), 7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3.com

Their Last Game

Notre Dame

Behind 23 points from star Jerian Grant, the Irish surged in the second half to a come from behind win against Miami (FL) on Saturday at home, 75-70.

Virginia Tech

The Hokies were able to slow the pace on Sunday against North Carolina to keep it relatively close early, but the Tar Heels’ sheer athleticism won them their home game by a final score of 68-53.

Players To Watch

F Zach Auguste, Notre Dame

After returning from academic suspension on Saturday against Miami (FL), Zach Auguste came off of the bench to score four points in nine minutes of court time for the Irish. Assuming Auguste returns to his regular role in the starting lineup against the Hokies on Thursday night, he should be in for a big game. Virginia Tech has a definitive weakness on their frontline, one which an offensive minded forward like Auguste could potentially exploit.

G Justin Bibbs, Virginia Tech

On a team that has struggled for offensive consistency throughout much of the season, freshman Justin Bibbs has been as reliable as you could ask for on the Virginia Tech roster. Bibbs is leading the team in scoring at 13.6 points per game on 50% shooting, but Tech will once again be without his services on Thursday night as he’ll miss his second straight game due to a concussion.

The Game And Prediction

Notre Dame and Virginia Tech are very similar in the way that they both want to play. While neither the Irish or the Hokies are known for their stout frontline, both teams rely heavily on production from their guards. With the way ND’s Jerian Grant and Pat Connaughton have been playing offensively of late, it is hard not to like the Irish in this one, as they are a better and more experienced team. The Irish are favorites on the road at -10, and they’ll cover.

Notre Dame 68  Virginia Tech 55

 

The Match-Up

Georgia Tech (9-8, 0-5, RPI: 87) Vs. #2 Virginia (17-0, 5-0, RPI: 3), 8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3.com

Their Last Game

Georgia Tech

The Yellow Jackets lost a hard fought game on the road at Pittsburgh on Saturday, 70-65, despite 16 points from Robert Sampson.

Virginia

The Cavaliers played a mediocre game by their standards on Saturday afternoon, but Malcolm Brogdon and company found a way to pull away late on the road at Boston College, ultimately winning 66-51.

Players To Watch

F Marcus Georges-Hunt, Georgia Tech

As the Yellow Jackets prepare to play against the nation’s top scoring defense, there is nobody more important than their leading scorer, Marcus Georges-Hunt. Georges-Hunt will need to contribute as close to his season average of 12.9 points per game as he can in order to keep his team competitive in this game.

G Justin Anderson, Virginia

Justin Anderson has been Virginia’s most consistent player this season, but in his team’s last game on Saturday against Boston College, Anderson was downright putrid. He was 0-8 from the field, 0-4 from three, but was able to convert on 8-9 free throws to finish with eight points. I would expect him to be much closer to his season average of 14.5 points per game, because you cannot keep a scorer like Anderson down for long.

The Game And Prediction

While UVA’s offense has been hit and miss at times this season, their defense is what separates them from the rest of the country. Georgia Tech is going to have to find a way to score in this game, and work the ball inside out. If the ball sticks and the Jackets can’t move it around the perimeter, they will not be competitive in this game. However, if they share the rock and play together, they could hang around for more than just the first half. I like the Cavaliers in this one, but something tells me they won’t cover their -17.5 point home spread, as Georgia Tech has continued to play up to their competition, despite their record.

UVA 70   Georgia Tech 58

 

The Match-Up

NC State (13-6, 4-2, RPI: 38) Vs. Miami (FL) (12-5, 2-2, RPI: 57), 8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3.com

Their Last Game

NC State

Trevor Lacey and the Wolfpack were locked in a tight contest in their last outing against Florida State, but they pulled away late with a 72-63 win.

Miami (FL)

The Hurricanes gave a valiant effort on the road against Notre Dame, leading for the first 25 minutes of the game, but the Irish found a way to lock down the ‘Canes late, and defeated Miami (FL), 75-70.

Players To Watch

G Trevor Lacey, NC State

Trevor Lacey continues his extremely impressive campaign, as his 17 points on Saturday against Florida State helped the Wolfpack avoid a road upset. Lacey is averaging 17.1 points per game on 48% shooting, and seems to improve his consistency game by game for NC State.

G Sheldon McClellan, Miami (FL)

The Hurricanes leading scorer at 15.4 points per game played well again in his last outing against Notre Dame, scoring 17 points on 46% shooting. In a game full of many of the upper-echelon guards in the conference, it is only fair that we mention McClellan, as he will try to match the production of NC State star Trevor Lacey.

The Game And Prediction

This is without a doubt going to be the game of the night, as NC State’s trio of guards (Lacey, Turner, Barber) against Miami’s duo (McClellan, Rodriguez), will be the most intriguing match-up. If Cat Barber returns for NC State in the contest after missing Saturday afternoon’s game, it is hard to see Miami (FL) having enough firepower to keep up with an underrated Wolfpack squad. Although the Hurricanes are a -4 point home favorite in this one, I like NC State in a narrow upset over Miami (FL).

NC State 84  Miami (FL) 77

 

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