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ACC Roundup - Can Louisville Beat A Limited UNC?

The Tar Heels may be missing both Pete Nance and Armando Bacot Saturday

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 11 Pitt at Duke
DURHAM, NC - JANUARY 11: Nelly Cummings (0) of the Pittsburgh Panthers drives to the basket during a basketball game against the Duke Blue Devils on January 11, 2023 at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, NC.
Photo by David Jensen/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In Saturday’s ACC Action, we have six games on tap. Miami visits Raleigh for a game with NC State, UNC is off to Louisville to visit the Cardinals, Pitt jets down to Hotlanta to take on Georgia Tech, Virginia gets a weather break in Tallahassee to play Florida State, Notre Dame is off to Syracuse and Wake Forest is in Beantown to check out the improving Boston Eagles.

Most of these are compelling in one way or the other. Take State-Miami.

At 14-2, the ‘Canes have been really, really good. Miami is undersized but, like last year, the guard play is outstanding. And transfer Norchad Omier has shored up the inside play.

State has a similar profile. At 13-4, the Pack has, so far anyway, overcome the injury to big man Dusan Mahorcic, largely because of the play of DJ Burns, who has really stepped up.

Like Miami, State’s guard play has been really good - Terquavion Smith, Jarkel Joiner and Casey Morsell have been quite solid.

We’re not sure if Jack Clark will be ready and if he is, he probably won’t be 100 percent. He missed the Virginia Tech game as well.

Should be a great matchup and a chance for State to build on its big win over Duke.

Can Louisville pull off the upset with UNC in town and possibly missing Armando Bacot and Pete Nance, their best frontcourt players?

You’d like to say yes, but given Louisville’s season to date, it’s hard to see. However, in fairness, they have been more competitive lately. They almost beat Syracuse and were competitive with Wake Forest and Clemson, even if only in the end. That sounds trivial, but it’s not: they didn't give up, and that’s a change.

UNC will probably start Seth Trimble again and most likely either Jalen Washington or Justin McKoy.

Unfortunately for the ‘Ville, they’ll also start Leaky Black, RJ Davis and Caleb Love. Is it enough?

Most likely. And even though Washington is still working his way back into game shape after a high school knee injury, he’s tremendously talented. He could really stake a claim in this one.

So we’d stick with UNC but with an open mind.

Pitt should be irritated after losing at Duke and, as we all saw, they're very competent offensively and also a load on defense. If Tech was bigger, or better offensively, it might be interesting. From here it looks like a definite Pitt win.

Notre Dame has had some real struggles but managed to fight through it to beat Georgia last time out. It’s an interesting match because Mike Brey usually has such a great offense while Jim Boeheim is a master of the 2-3 zone.

Syracuse is playing better than Notre Dame has been and we’re not sure the Irish can defend them if they play well offensively.

Florida State has struggled with a lot this year. Like last year, injuries have been a nightmare. However, they have Baba Miller back and some of the walking wounded have gotten back on the court. And keep in mind that FSU gave Virginia a tough game in Charlottesville, before losing 62-57. However, Virginia was in control for most of the second half before the ‘Noles made a nice late comeback.

We’d stick with Virginia though, particularly if Reece Beekman is close to 100 percent because that guy can take anyone - say Matthew Cleveland - and essentially remove him from the offense.

In the nightcap, both Wake Forest and BC are improving. BC’s record is just 8-9 but they came back to knock off Notre Dame and gave Duke a great game before getting smoked by Miami.

Wake is coming together fast though and Steve Forbes has some good pieces to work with. Transfer Tyree Appleby is putting up 17.8 ppg and also getting 5.9 apg.

One of two Brits on the team, Cameron Hildreth, is pulling down 6.4 boards a game, which is pretty good for a 6-4 guard.

The other Brit, 7-1 Matthew Marsh, has shown some real flashes, not least of all against Duke. But Andrew Carr, a 6-10 transfer from Delaware, has been the better big man. He had a big-time game winning shot against Appalachian State and had 22 points and nine boards against Florida State last time out.

However, you can’t rule out BC entirely just because they play as hard as anyone. Earl Grant is building an admirable culture.

Hubert Davis at times still seems like the baby-faced kid who played at UNC from 1988-92, but he’s 52 and old enough for a kid of his own to play college ball: son Elijah is playing at D-III Lynchburg. It’s a cool story.

Virginia Tech has really struggled since Hunter Cattoor got hurt at Boston College and the Hokies have lost five straight since then. They next play at Virginia on Wednesday and there’s a reasonable chance that Cattoor will be back. But coach Mike Young says the problems go deeper.

Rodney Rice, who has been out all season, is getting closer too.

Saturday’s ACC Action

  • NC State @ Georgia Tech || 7:00 PM || ACCN
  • UNC @ Louisville || 2:00 PM || ESPN
  • Pitt @ Georgia Tech || 3:00 PM || ACCN
  • Virginia @ Florida State || 4:00 PM || ESPN2
  • Duke @ Clemson || 5:00 PM || ACCN
  • Notre Dame @ Syracuse || 7:00 PM || ACCN
  • Wake Forest @ Boston College || 8:00 PM || ESPN2

ACC Standings