Saturday is a busy day around the ACC, starting with the Struggle Bowl between Louisville and Florida State, the potent but faded Big East rivalry between average Syracuse and a dreadful Georgetown, NC State at Miami, LSU and Wake Forest tangling in Hotlanta, Georgia Tech exploring just how bad UNC is in the Dean Dome, Pitt probably taking a breather with Sacred Heart at home and BC vs. Villanova in another former Big East rivalry between faded opponents. Clemson wraps things up with an interesting opponent in Loyola Chicago.
Florida State is just 1-9 but that’s much better than 0-8 Louisville and FSU did push Purdue during the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. They’re also getting healthier. It’s hard to make an argument for the Cards here.
Syracuse has slipped since joining the ACC but Georgetown finished just 6-25 last year and didn’t win after a December 15th win over Kenny Blakeney’s Howard team.
The Hoyas needed overtime to beat Coppin State, lost to Northwestern, Loyola Marymount, American, Texas Tech and a rebuilding South Carolina program. Currently 5-5 and coached by Georgetown legend Patrick Ewing, things are not going well there.
NC State and Miami should be fun. The Pack will be without big man Dusan Mahorcic, who is out indefinitely with a knee injury that will require surgery, but Miami is not a huge team. It should be a very fast game and therefore a lot of fun. Miami is 9-1 while State is 8-2. Both teams are flawed but could still have excellent seasons.
Wake Forest steps out of the conference against LSU, a team that finally made Will Wade a big-ass settlement offer that he could not refuse and started over again with Matt McMahon.
Somewhat like Wake’s Steve Forbes, McMahon built his reputation and skill set a rung or two below the Power 5 level - he was at Murray State, where he coached NBA phenom Ja Morant and in 2021-22, McMahon won 31 games with the Racers and of course that was without Morant.
He’s a heck of a coach. Played for former UNC guard Buzz Williams at Appalachian State, incidentally.
That’s a tough one to call but it’d be a solid win for Wake even though LSU is rebuilding. If nothing else, it would be a good confidence builder.
Speaking of confidence, the UNC-Georgia Tech game is fascinating. Normally you’d just bet the rent money on the Heels and eat well that evening.
Now? Who can say?
It would help UNC a lot if Armando Bacot could play but that’s still uncertain. And freshman Jalen Washington, who had knee surgery last year, may be ready to make his debut.
Not D’Marco Dunn though: a broken hand will keep him out a while.
We don’t know much about Sacred Heart, but you’d think Pitt, which has shown some nice signs lately, could win that. The main news for the Panthers is that Dior Johnson, the 5-star talent who committed to Pitt last year, has been sentenced. His felony charge of strangulation was reduced and he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor strangulation and simple assault. Theoretically he could rejoin the team, but there are several steps before he would be allowed to. And the university might simply decide to cut ties.
Like Duke, Villanova is replacing a legendary coach in Jay Wright, but the elegant ‘Nova program is hitting some bumps. Injuries haven’t helped but 4-5 is not what you’d expect from this team. They’re probably still better than BC, but if the Eagles scramble, they might make some noise.
Clemson’s opponent is quite interesting. Previously coached by Porter Moser, who is now at Oklahoma, and famous for Sister Jean, the now 103-year-old fan who charmed the nation while Loyola made a stunning run to the Final Four in 2018, the Ramblers are now coached by Drew Valentine.
Valentine led Loyola to a 25-8 record last year and is currently 4-5.
He’s an excellent defensive coach, as is Clemson’s Brad Brownell, so this one should be interesting. This game is in the same Atlanta event that Wake Forest is playing in, called Holiday Hoopsgiving.
Incidentally, Loyola joined the A-10 this year, Like the Big Ten and Big 12, math is not the strong point for the A-10 - it’s now up to 15 members.
Saturday’s ACC Action
- Louisville @ Florida State || 1:00 || ACCN
- Georgetown @ Syracuse || 1:00 || ABC
- NC State @ Miami || 2:00 || ACCNX
- LSU vs. Wake Forest || 2:00 || Nope
- Georgia Tech @ UNC || 3:15 || ESPN
- Sacred Heart @ Pitt || 3:30 || ACCN
- Villanova vs. Boston College || 5:00 || Fox
- UMES @ Duke || 5:30 || ACCN
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