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ACC Roundup - NC State Visits UNC And Louisville Has A Surprise Addition

A busy day up and down the conference.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 17 NC State at Georgia Tech
ATLANTA, GA JANUARY 17: North Carolina State forward D.J. Burns Jr. (30) drives to the basket during a college basketball game between the North Carolina State Wolfpack and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on January 17th, 2023 at Hank McCamish Pavilion in Atlanta, GA.
Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s a busy day for ACC Action with Syracuse at Georgia Tech, Virginia heading down to Winston-Salem, BC at Notre Dame, Florida State flying up to Pittsburgh, NC State taking on UNC in the Dean Dome and Virginia Tech on the road at pacesetter Clemson.

We would expect Syracuse to win. From what we’ve seen of the Yellow Jackets, they’re quicker and more athletic than we thought, but still struggle on offense.

We keep seeing this one kid in clips making smart moves for Tech but sort of in your peripheral vision. He’s an interesting player. We think it’s Garder-Webb transfer Lance Terry but will need to see more video to be sure. He’s a really smart player.

Still, the Boeheim Zone means you’ll need to hit from outside and Tech has never really done that very well under Josh Pastner. So we’d bet on Syracuse (if we actually did bet, that is).

Virginia seems to be rounding into form. They’ve now won six of their last seven. As you’ll recall, Reece Beekman had a hamstring issue but seems to be moving past it. UVA still has an issue at center, where Kaeden Shedrick seems to have been demoted. Keep an eye on Ben Vander Plas. When that guy is good, he’s really, really good.

Wake is getting in the groove a bit too. Wake is now 14-5 and fresh off of beating Clemson, something no one else has done in the ACC so far (Clemson was missing Chase Hunter, but still).

Steve Forbes, like Mike Brey compulsively honest, said this about his team: “We don’t always play smart, but we play hard and we play together.”

Fair enough. But will that be enough against Virginia? Because you really do have to play smart against that team. Their style magnifies mistakes.

Speaking of Brey, Notre Dame is having a tough season but he just announced his retirement Thursday. We’d give the Irish the emotional edge from that, plus they owe BC for the last game.

Pitt has been a tough out this year and they’re tough and smart. The game is at the Pete, so we’d give them an edge over Florida State. It’s just a brutal year for Leonard Hamilton and the ‘Noles. They do show up and try though, so clearly they haven’t given up. We wouldn’t rule out an upset here.

NC State and UNC is an interesting rivalry. State fans hate UNC in a way that even Duke fans don’t - there is a level of mutual respect between Duke and UNC that State fans don’t extend to Chapel Hill. State fans, remember, gleefully dug up Julius Hodge’s dismal transcript and hilariously derailed Michael McAdoo’s lawsuit against UNC by showing that he plagiarized a paper.

It’s a different kind of hatred when you can’t compete on the court so much. You do what you can, and, give them credit, they boldly went where no rivals have gone before during the academic fraud scandal.

Can they keep up on the court?

Well, maybe.

Armando Bacot is a particular problem that they can’t directly reply to. They can win by applying very tough defense and disrupting the ball movement and they are absolutely capable of that - and UNC is capable of playing poorly, too, for that matter.

But if they can’t stop Bacot and he ends up with 27 points and 19 rebounds or whatever, they’ll be in deep trouble.

We can’t see it, but it’d be kind of fun if DJ Burns went all Rulon Gardner on Bacot.

The Clemson-Virginia Tech game could be really intriguing. The Hokies have suffered, losing six straight. But they do have Hunter Cattoor back, who was out since December 21st with an elbow injury.

It’ll be easier for the Hokies if Chase Hunter doesn't play for the Tigers. Point guard was expected to be a weak spot after Al-Amir Dawes transferred back home to Seton Hall but Hunter has done well at Clemson.

They were already down one guard with Alex Hemenway, who has been dealing with planter fasciitis for several weeks and remember that PJ Hall is overcoming knee surgery. You really have to give Brownell props for what he’s done this season. It’s remarkable.

Louisville doesn't play again until Wednesday when they go to Boston College, but there are two notable things going into that one.

First, when Kenny Payne suggested to El Ellis that he’d like him to talk more trash to opponents, Ellis had a perfect response: ”There’s not much you can say when you’re 2-16.”

Call him a realist.

However, he may have more help as Louisville picked up a late addition to the roster in 6-10 Emmanuel Okorafor.

No one has any idea what to expect.

He’s just 18 but has been playing against grown men and holding his own. However, African basketball, though it has improved a lot, is not on the US level yet.

At this point, though, why not give him a shot? Louisville has a ton of problems and can’t fix them all. If the guy can rebound and maybe play a little defense, he can help. And they need a lot of help.

Saturday’s ACC Action

  • Miami @ Duke || 12:00 PM || ESPN
  • Syracuse @ Georgia Tech || 12:00 PM || ACCNX
  • Virginia @ Wake Forest || 2:00 PM || ESPNU
  • Boston College @ Notre Dame || 2:00 PM || ACCNX
  • Florida State @ Pittsburgh || 3:00 PM || ACCN
  • NC State @ UNC || 5:00 PM || ACCN
  • Virginia Tech @ Clemson || 6:00 PM || ESPN2

ACC Standings