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ACC Roundup - Big Change Saturday

The ACC race took a big step on Saturday

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Wake Forest v Duke
DURHAM, NC - JANUARY 13: Grayson Allen #3 of the Duke Blue Devils crashes into the stands as he dives for a loose ball during their against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on January 13, 2018 in Durham, North Carolina. Duke won 89-71.
Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

The ACC race changed a fair amount on Saturday. Duke, Clemson, UNC, Florida State, Georgia Tech and Louisville all won (so did BC but against Dartmouth).

Wake Forest, Miami, Notre Dame, Syracuse, Pitt and Virginia Tech all lost.

Pitt, not surprisingly, is at the bottom and winless. Wake is 1-4 and tied for 13th.

After the loss to FSU, Syracuse, a very proud program, is the other school at 1-4.

BC is 12-6 - already better than last year’s win total - and probably happy to be 2-3. That’s probably not the case for Florida State and certainly not for Virginia Tech.

NC State and Miami are 2-2 while Duke, UNC and Notre Dame are 3-2.

Georgia Tech is 3-1 as is Louisville. Clemson is 4-1 and Virginia is in sole possession of 1st place at 4-0.

In every ACC race, there comes a point of resignation for some teams and a point of despair for others.

Pitt isn’t going anywhere this season and if they didn't know before, they do after losing Ryan Luther for the season. They just don’t have enough players to make a run. Wake Forest is somewhere between despair and resignation. They could still turn things around around but time is short.

As for Syracuse, fans might be worried but not Jim Boeheim. Not yet: “It’s five games. Who cares? You’ve got 13 games to go. Anything can happen. Who cares? That doesn’t matter. You play the next game.’’

Virginia Tech? Things are not looking good. After looking like a dynamite team early in the season, the Hokies have not done well lately. They’re just 4-4 since visiting Kentucky in the middle of December and are no longer ranked. And there’s a tough stretch coming up: FSU and UNC at home, Notre Dame on the road. BC’s been tough at home and after that trip is Miami and NC State in Cassell then trips to Virginia and Duke.

Miami is just 13-3 - that’s hardly disastrous - but the ‘Canes aren’t playing well and have slid down the standings. Plenty of time for that team to get it together.

Notre Dame has done about as well as possible after losing both Bonzi Colson and Matt Farrell but there’s no way they can be as good without them.

Duke and UNC are moving up as they usually do when they’re not already there.

Georgia Tech is 3-1 in conference but just 10-7 overall and about to run into a buzz saw: Virginia at home, UNC and FSU on the road then Clemson at home. It’ll be remarkable if the Yellow Jackets stay near the top for long.

So look who’s particularly interesting: Louisville. The Cards are 13-4 and 3-1 in the ACC and about to hit a sweet spot in the schedule. A trip to Notre Dame won’t be easy but is doable, particularly given Louisville’s big men, then BC and Miami at Miami followed by Wake Forest. Could they get out of that at 7-1? If they keep playing well, yes.

Didn’t seem possible after the UK loss but we’d say it is.

This Wednesday - sorry, Tuesday - we’ll see something we rarely see: Clemson going into Chapel Hill ahead of UNC in the ACC standings.

As you surely know, Clemson has never once won in Chapel Hill. It won’t be easy this year either but this Clemson team is not your typical Clemson squad. It’s smart, reasonably athletic and resourceful. It could happen this year. We’re not making a prediction, but their odds are better than they’ve been in a long time.

However after that things stay tough: the Tigers get Notre Dame at home, a trip to Virginia then Georgia Tech before getting UNC in Littlejohn. So as good as Clemson has been, they could get knocked back a few spots.

But imagine this. Dream big for a minute: Clemson might break The Streak on Wednesday and land Zion Williamson on Saturday.

The mind boggles.

And Virginia? The Cavs are in the catbird seat and should be for awhile.

State is up-and-down but are they capable of knocking off UVA on the road? Seems unlikely, but Kevin Keatts did okay against UVA last spring when he was coaching Wilmington.

After State comes road trips to Atlanta and Winston-Salem where the ‘Hoos should prevail, then Clemson at home before a trip to Durham on the 27th which will be challenging.

Unless weird things happen though - and they do in this conference fairly often - Virginia is in control.

Just a few notes from Saturday:

  • As far as we’re concerned, no one is doing a better job coaching his team than Mike Brey, who has kept Notre Dame competitive despite losing his two best players in Colson and Farrell.
  • Virginia Tech hasn’t beaten Louisville since 1991, when Duke won its first championship. They’ve been in the same conferences at least three times: Metro, Big East and ACC.
  • Florida State limited Syracuse’s starting front court to seven baskets.
  • Pitt’s ACC losses have come by a total of 104 points.
  • Miami ranks 331st nationally in free throw percentage at .641.

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