Six ACC games on tap for Saturday: Pitt plays at Syracuse, Clemson visits Louisville, Virginia Tech heads up the coast to Boston College, NC State flies down to Atlanta to take on the Yellow Jackets, Notre Dame gets a warm road trip to Florida State and UNC gets Miami for Roy Williams’ sixth attempt to surpass his sensei Dean Smith in win totals.
Saturday’s ACC Action
- Miami @ UNC || 12:00 || ESPN2
- Pitt @ Syracuse || 12:00 || ACCN
- Clemson @ Louisville || 2:00 || ACCNX
- Virginia Tech @ Boston College || 2:00 || ESPNU
- NC State @ Georgia Tech || 4:00 || ACCNX
- Notre Dame @ Florida State || 8:00 || ACCN
The first really notable thing about this game is that both teams are ridiculously thin.
UNC only played seven guys against Virginia Tech in a double overtime game and in Miami’s last game, at Duke, the ‘Canes went deeper, going with eight guys but two other guys got just three minutes, so essentially an eight-man rotation.
However, they don’t really have anyone who can individually contend with UNC’s Armando Bacot, much less Garrison Brooks.
Rodney Miller has worked hard to become a competent center but he’s not on the level that Brooks has hit. Bacot has been erratic as a freshman but he’s a good bit thicker than Miami’s Sam Waardenburg. However, Waardenburg can pull Bacot outside and we’re not sure he’s comfortable with that.
Brandon Robinson sat out the last game after being in a car accident. He’d obviously help UNC.
UNC is still weak at the point without Cole Anthony - we haven’t seen anything to suggest he’ll be back Saturday - and Chris Lyke is a handful.
Needless to say, with each loss the pressure builds on the Tar Heels. Roy Williams said after the Virginia Tech game that his team is improving but they didn’t make winning plays. We don’t really have a feel for this one so we’ll just have to wait.
However, UNC plays State next and either team could look ahead. As you may remember, Williams has a particular interest in beating the Wolfpack and State Nation wants in on the UNC beatathon.
State visits Georgia Tech and that’s not going to be easy, least of all if they look ahead to UNC. Georgia Tech is 8-11 but a very dangerous team and really very good defensively. And if big man Manny Bates is still out, that’s a very tough blow for the Pack to overcome. This could be a really intense game even if it’s not particularly pretty.
Pitt and Syracuse have both changed a lot over the course of the season. Pitt is still not pretty offensively and could use some more size but they get after it, especially on defense.
Syracuse meanwhile doesn’t have what it usually needs for its 2-3 zone - long athletes and lots of them - but the Orange has serious production from Elijah Hughes, Buddy Boeheim and Joe Girard. Marek Dolezaj is going to be painfully skinny his whole life - it’s just his build - but he’s a smart ballplayer and he’s useful with Syracuse’s scorers.
Bourama Sidibe hasn’t made a huge impression on us but he’s at least able to hold down the post if he stays out of foul trouble. But he’s not much thicker than Dolezaj is.
The great thing about Syracuse’s perimeter scoring is that lately it has opened up the inside for Dolezaj, Sibide and freshman Quincy Guerrier. They’ve probably improved as much as anyone in the ACC.
Pitt has some legitimate post-season hopes and obviously every win gets them closer to the NCAA rather than the NIT. As Jeff Capel has said, his team doesn’t fully understand what it takes to win consistently. In that sense, it would be another good step for the Pitt program.
We’d expect Louisville to beat Clemson but like Georgia Tech, the Tigers are a dangerous program. You don't want to overlook them.
We can’t see BC beating Virginia Tech unless the Hokies have tired legs from the double overtime thriller with UNC - and possibly an emotional hangover. It’s hard an experienced team to stay at a high emotional level much less one as young as Virginia Tech. That’s a real danger in this one.
We admire Notre Dame’s program a lot. The Irish mature their players, they mostly stick around long enough to really bond with the fan base and Mike Brey is a good coach and a good man.
But the Irish are in a tough spot and Florida State is not an easy team to beat this year. They have the depth to really hurt Notre Dame. It’s possible the Irish could win in a buzzer beater but this game is Florida State’s to lose.
The standings could be interesting Monday morning. We expect both Louisville and FSU to win so forget them for now. Virginia Tech, NC State and Syracuse are tied for fourth. Pitt and Virginia (the Cavs play Sunday) could both move up.
Six teams could get hot - or could have epic falls. The ACC may be down but it’s still intensely interesting, not least of all because the conference culture forces everyone to keep at it until the last whistle blows.
By the way as we mentioned earlier, State is excited about the upcoming UNC game.
- UNC’s Williams: ‘You just gotta keep going’
- Cole Anthony’s status, Brooks’ improvement. Five observations as UNC preps for Miami.
- From caustic pilots to former coaches, plenty of perspective on UNC’s struggles
- Why Carolina is losing: As injuries pile up, so do other issues in a rare season
- As lineups evolve, Tar Heels stuck in rut
- Virginia men’s basketball program developing into NBA pipeline
- Virginia dealing with the plight of a national champion: Retaining championship form
- Georgia Tech may look to bench to ‘get through the door’
- The ultimate late-bloomer, Moses Wright emerging as Tech leader
- UVa men’s basketball: Freshman Morsell struggles with shot as Cavs reach midseason
- The art of the scout: The work behind FSU’s success
- Joe Girard III leads the country in free-throw shooting. Has a freshman ever done that?
- Is Buddy Boeheim’s hair the secret to Syracuse’s 4-game win streak?
- Syracuse is getting points from unexpected places: Marek Dolezaj, Quincy Guerrier, Bourama Sidibe
- Pitt is still learning how to handle success — mainly, holding on to late leads
- How a defensive switch keyed Pitt’s comeback against Boston College
- U of L athletics reports a $11.2 million deficit — but says not to worry
- This is how Louisville will respond if Malik Williams is out vs. Clemson
- Illinois player pulls a ‘Laettner,’ and UK fans know what that means