clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

ACC Roundup: Put Down Those Leftovers And Get Ready For Two Big Games

Saturday should be fun

Kentucky v Louisville
LOUISVILLE, KY - DECEMBER 29: Chris Mack the head coach of the the Louisville Cardinals and John Calipari the head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats talk before the game at KFC YUM! Center on December 29, 2018 in Louisville, Kentucky.
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Christmas is over so let’s get on to the ACC basketball presents: on Saturday, Virginia gets Gonzaga and Louisville hosts Kentucky.

And this year, that’s going to be really odd.

Louisville hasn’t excelled so far but Kentucky has been historically bad to date. One player, Cam’Ron Fletcher, has stepped away from the team at coach John Calipari’s request, and rumors about player dissatisfaction are rife.

And now KentuckySportsRadio’s Matt Jones suggests on Twitter that Terrence Clark has sat out most of this week with an injury and may or may not play Saturday.

Needless to say, Louisville, which has been erratic but not Kentucky awful so far, is hoping for a major whoopin’.

We’re not entirely sure they’ll get it.

Kentucky has stunk so far, true, but they only lost to Kansas by three and while Notre Dame had a big lead, UK came back to make it just a one-point loss. And they were certainly in the game against UNC until falling apart.

And consider this too: sending Fletcher away may focus the other players attention.

So we’re sure that Louisville is going to get their best effort, even if it’s not clear yet just what that means.

Virginia and Gonzaga? Man is that an interesting game. Gonzaga has a potentially great team, one that has a real shot at an undefeated season.

Think about it: the West Coast Conference knows them best of course, and conference rivalries are unpredictable, but this is a really good team in a very strange year. We could see it.

Still have to deal with Virginia though and that's not easy. Gonzaga has been spectacular offensively this season but the Cavaliers have made a career out of grinding high-powered offenses into the dust.

So the question then is how do the Zags deal with a slow-paced, low scoring game? Running into the Pack Line is like trying to run in a swimming pool full of goo. It reminds us of when Rulon Gardner upset the great Russian wrestler Aleksandr Karelin in the 2000 Olympics. Karelin hadn’t lost in 13 years. No one had even scored a point against him. He trained by running up stairs with a refrigerator, among other unusual techniques, and was generally considered unbeatable.

Gardner was massive though, and Karelin said he just couldn’t get a grip on him.

That’s as good a metaphor for the Pack Line as we can think of. It seeks to dictate the pace, frustrate the offense and keep the game close at the end. And usually, when Virginia manages to do that, they are better prepared to win in every way.

We’d be surprised the game got out of the low 70s, at best, and as usual, Virginia understands that situation better than the opponents.

It’s going to be a fascinating game.

One final thing to consider: Tony Bennett came to Virginia from Washington State, which is less than two hours from Gonzaga. He knows exactly what Mark Few does and what his weaknesses are.

In fact, he may know this as well as anyone outside of the West Coast Conference

Saturday’s ACC Action

  • Kentucky @ Louisville || 1:00 || ESPN
  • Virginia vs. Gonzaga || 4:00 || CBS

ACC Standings