Friday, March 21 2014 7:28 AM EDT2014-03-21 11:28:45 GMT
RALEIGH, NC (WMBF) - This week, Coastal Carolina joins Duke, Virginia, Tennessee and several other big name schools at PNC Arena for a weekend of games as the NCAA Tournament is off and running. TomorrowMore >>
Chants take the floor for a practice in Raleigh before taking on top-seeded Virginia Friday night.More >>
(RNN) - New York hosts a trio of quality games involving ACC teams as the nonconference portion of the season begins to wind down.
With three weeks left until conference teams go head-to-head, a pair of former Big East schools meet Tuesday and two of the most decorated programs in college basketball are set for Thursday.
In addition, a 2 p.m. ET matinee of Florida State's athletic defense against UMass' high-scoring offense kicks off a full schedule Saturday.
Pittsburgh vs. Cincinnati, 7 p.m. ET Tuesday
A season ago, both of these teams met under the banner of the old Big East. This year, Pitt comes in to the Jimmy V Classic calling the ACC home while Cincy resides in the new American Athletic Conference.
The Panthers (10-0) have feasted on a strength of schedule ranked 154th in the nation, beating every opponent but one (Penn State) by 17 or more points. Senior Lamar Patterson has averaged more than 16 points while shooting better than 50 percent and dishing out five assists per game.
Head coach Jamie Dixon has Pitt looking strong on defense, switching between man and zone coverage as the game dictates. His other senior, Talib Zanna, has looked strong on both ends of the court, and freshman big man Michael Young has been solid on the offensive glass.
Cincinnati started 7-0 but lost its last two against good competition - New Mexico and Xavier. Bearcats senior Sean Kilpatrick has always been a volume scorer, putting up lots of shots. But this season, he is hitting at a much higher rate, and he leads the team with 19.3 points per game.
Texas at No. 14 North Carolina, 7 p.m. Wednesday
The Longhorns have reloaded with talent but have yet to see much in the way of challenges early on. Meanwhile, UNC may be the most tested team of the young season, and they have responded well.
The Tar Heels (7-2) are coming off a home win over 11th-ranked Kentucky. They have also taken down then-No. 1 Michigan State on the road and then-No. 3 Louisville at a neutral site. The team has been led by sophomore Marcus Paige, who has singlehandedly made the team a threat to score from long distance.
James Michael McAdoo has kept the aggression he played with last year but is showing improved control, turning the ball over less than two times a game. At 6'9" and 230 pounds with superior leaping ability, he is a matchup problem for almost anyone.
Texas (9-1) freshman guard Isaiah Taylor is second on the team in scoring, at 11.7 PPG, and minutes, at 27.9 on average. Junior Jonathan Holmes and sophomore Cameron Ridley give the team plenty of size and rebounding; they could present a challenge to a young UNC frontcourt.
No. 8 Duke vs. UCLA, 7:30 p.m. Thursday
The Blue Devils and the Bruins have a combined 33 Final Four appearances and 15 NCAA titles between them. A setting of the World's Most Famous Arena, New York's Madison Square Garden, seems appropriate for the two elite basketball programs.
Duke (7-2) will be playing its second game of the week after having a 13-day layoff. For Jabari Parker, Rodney Hood and Quinn Cook, it was a well-deserved rest - each has logged more than 31 minutes per game so far.
Parker may be the best of the outstanding freshman class in college hoops. He has immediately become an elite scorer (22.1 PPG) who rebounds, blocks shots and causes turnovers. Hood, a sophomore, has also been impressive after sitting out a season as a transfer student, scoring nearly 20 a game while shooting 54 percent from behind the 3-point line.
UCLA (9-1) sophomore Jordan Adams has been coming into his own, averaging more than 21 PPG and getting to the free throw stripe at a high rate. He has an NBA-ready frame and the elusiveness to get past defenders. Zach LaVine, another talented first-year man, has put up efficient statistics (13.8 PPG on 59 percent shooting) as well.
Notre Dame vs. No. 3 Ohio State, 7:30 p.m. Saturday
The Irish (8-3) bounced back from a huge letdown last week in the loss to North Dakota State by beating in-state rival Indiana in the Crossroads Classic. Now, they will take on another Big Ten opponent at another neutral site with a chance to add a top-notch win to their resume.
The Buckeyes (10-0) took down the same NDSU team easily Saturday. They have a pair of talented scorers in Lenzelle Smith Jr. and LaQuinton Ross, as well as a standout perimeter defender in point guard Aaron Craft.
Amir Williams, a 6'11, 250-pound junior, has been a stern player in the low post for the Buckeyes. The Irish's struggles have come when they meet teams that have solid interior play, but they have the ability to hang enough points to outscore anyone on a given night.
Notre Dame's strength is a senior backcourt of Jerian Grant and Eric Atkins. Grant leads the team in scoring and quarterbacks the offense, showing a nice ability to find open guys with precision passing. Freshman Demetrius Jackson also provides scoring and energy when he has the ball in his hands.
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