Friday, December 6 2013 3:51 PM EST2013-12-06 20:51:27 GMT
(RNN) - A relatively quiet few days ahead have a pair of scheduling anomalies: Two games in conference play. Normally reserved for after the New Year, fans get their first chance to see ACC teams go headMore >>
Normally reserved for after the New Year, fans get their first chance to see ACC teams go head to head this week. More >>
Thursday, December 5 2013 5:27 PM EST2013-12-05 22:27:52 GMT
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(RNN) - Miami and Wake Forest look to build on their success, and their most recent opponents will attempt to recover, during a full weekend of ACC basketball.
In their first week as a ranked team, the No. 25 Hurricanes showed they belong by beating No. 1 Duke. Miami's 90-63 victory gave it a two-game lead in the conference standings.
Wake's offense found its fifth gear Tuesday; the Demon Deacons knocked off 18th-ranked North Carolina State, 86-84.
For the two winners, their weekend tests could show if recent performances were outliers or the start of an upward trend. For NC State and Duke, there is little chance to rest with contests against NCAA tournament-caliber teams on the horizon.
Maryland Terrapins at Duke Blue Devils, 1 p.m. ET Saturday
Two of the conference's best big men, Alex Len and Mason Plumlee, should face off plenty in the paint.
Duke (16-2, 3-2 in ACC) has struggled since forward Ryan Kelly went out with a knee injury. Against Miami, their troubles were magnified by poor low-post defense and shooting.
Quinn Cook (1 for 12 shooting), Seth Curry (0 for 10) and Plumlee (5 for 15) will need to be much more efficient on offense going forward.
The Terps (15-4, 3-3) have struggled to score since they began ACC play, but their defense has kept them competitive.
Without a player who can create his own shot consistently, Maryland's success is directly tied to how well they pass the ball. The team had 15 assists in the win against Boston College, only five in the loss at North Carolina.
Boston College Eagles at Virginia Cavaliers, 1 p.m. Saturday
The Eagles (9-9, 1-4) are one of the youngest teams in the conference and have not been able to secure wins in close games. They lost their last four by a combined total of 14 points.
BC freshman Olivier Hanlan has developed into a legitimate scoring threat. However, he still needs to work on his shot selection to cut down on misses.
Open shots could be difficult to come by against the Cavaliers (13-5, 3-2), who are tied for third place in the ACC after two straight victories.
Coach Tony Bennett's "packline" defense prevents their adversaries from getting easy buckets in transition. UVA players get back to cover their opponents quickly after shot attempts and force turnovers by diving into passing lanes.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, 3 p.m. Saturday
The Demon Deacons (10-8, 3-3) are seeing dividends from the playing time given to their freshmen early in the season. First-year forward Devin Thomas had the best night of his career in the win over NC State on Tuesday.
Wake has shown good decision-making on fast breaks and can score with anyone in an up-tempo matchup. If the young guys keep contributing, this team could become a surprise contender.
Georgia Tech (10-7, 0-5) sits at the bottom of the ACC, but it is not because of a lack of effort. The players have continued to hustle even when games were out of reach.
The Yellow Jackets' roster also has a lot of youth: the team's leading scorer, Marcus Georges-Hunt and leading rebounder, Robert Carter, are both freshman. They have performed much better at home, and could take advantage if the Demon Deacons overlook them.
North Carolina Tar Heels at NC State Wolfpack, 7 p.m. Saturday
UNC's James Michael McAdoo and NC State's C.J. Leslie are projected as future NBA first-round picks. The two should see plenty of head-to-head action Saturday night.
The Wolfpack has lost two of its last three. Against Maryland, turnovers and poor shooting got the team behind early; early fouls for Leslie and others played a big factor in the Wake Forest loss.
Scott Wood, their 3-point specialist, needs to knock down his shots from outside the arc to keep defenders spread out.
The Heels have recovered well from their earlier ACC losses. Winners of their last three, the shots are starting to fall and they can wear down other teams with their rapid pace.
Reggie Bullock and P.J. Hairston had big nights from behind the 3-point line recently, and both of them will look to score often. If McAdoo keeps pushing the ball inside, they can get plenty of opportunities.
Virginia Tech Hokies at Clemson Tigers, 1 p.m. Sunday
Hokies point guard Erick Green has been as impressive for the shots he does not take as the ones he does. The nation's leading scorer at 25.2 points per game, he makes an economical 50 percent of his field goal attempts and dishes out more than four assists per game.
Virginia Tech's (11-7, 2-3) problem lies on defense; the team is last in points allowed during ACC play.
Clemson (10-8, 2-4) has the opposite problem: The Tigers are third-best in scoring defense among conference teams but last in scoring offense. K.J. McDaniels helps keep the lid on the bucket with 1.3 steals and 2.1 blocks per game.
Leading scorer and rebounder Devin Booker will make shots in the low post. He will need someone to find their shooting touch from the perimeter to balance the offensive attack.
Florida State Seminoles at Miami Hurricanes, 6 p.m. Sunday
Florida State (11-7, 3-2) looked like a team on the verge of collapse after a 56-36 loss to Virginia on Saturday. But Thursday they came back from eight points down at halftime against Clemson, closing out the game courtesy of a Michael Snaer last-second 3-pointer for the win.
The Seminoles got an unexpected offensive outburst from 7-footer Kiel Turpin, who scored 16 after averaging about four points per game for the season. They will need Turpin or someone else to contribute in similar fashion Sunday.
The Hurricanes' biggest question mark after the Duke game is how they will handle success. After taking the top-ranked team down, they can't fly under anyone's radar anymore.
Senior Reggie Johnson gave his team an emotional lift in his first game back since breaking his thumb. He should begin contributing in points and rebounds as well when he gets back into form.
Sophomore Shane Larkin has combined with Durand Scott to give Miami one of the best backcourts in the country. If they keep up their exemplary play, this team is on its way to the postseason.
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