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ACC Teams Putting It Together For The Stretch Run

Barry takes a look at who’s doing what well - and who's not.

Notre Dame v Duke
 DURHAM, NC - FEBRUARY 14: Jeremy Roach #3 of the Duke Blue Devils goes to the basket against Marcus Hammond #10 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the first half at Cameron Indoor Stadium on February 14, 2023 in Durham, North Carolina.
Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

As February ends, team characteristics are pretty much set. Several squads added significant players recently, particularly Florida State and Louisville, and Duke has a healthy roster for the first time. But good teams are approaching peak performance, or at least turning to their idiosyncratic strengths, as they compete for postseason slots in the ACC, NCAA and NIT tournaments.

Unsurprisingly the most successful squads in the league – Virginia, Miami, Pitt – are those that enjoy the largest average margins of victory, along with Duke and NC State.

Miami and Duke remain undefeated at home.

Notre Dame relies heavily, as expected, on long-distance dialing, a strength also notably embraced by Pitt and Wake. But the Fighting Irish, unlike those other sharpshooting squads, lag, like Georgia Tech, in scoring at the line and in victories.

Then there are the 4 ACC squads, better than a quarter of the league’s membership, that convert threes at a rate below the breakeven .333 threshold. Bringing up the rear after Duke, Georgia Tech and BC is UNC at .305, propelled by junior guard Caleb Love, a ravenous and erratic bombardier who’s missed 137 threes for .312 accuracy (62-199), among the worst in the ACC in this or any year.

Typically for the program, the Tar Heels make up for perimeter weakness by turning inside to score. That interior attack is led by 6-11 Armando Bacot, the ACC’s leader on the offensive boards (4.39 per game) and its top rebounder overall (11.3). Attacking the basket enables Carolina to match Pitt in earning 21.9 percent of its points at the line, tops in the ACC, followed by deliberate Virginia.

UNC also stands fourth in scoring overall in the conference, but is 8th in scoring margin and 12th in scoring defense, allowing 72.6 points per game.

Bacot’s stellar inside presence recently had TV announcer Cory Alexander raving about the post player’s loyalty in returning for his senior year. That credulous outlook conveniently ignored the lucrative NIL income Bacot earns as a collegian, perhaps outstripping any initial pro earnings, given his ongoing failure to extend his offensive game to the perimeter. Bacot’s low-post fixation led him to be projected as a second-round NBA pick in 2022, encouraging his return to Chapel Hill this season.

So far in 2023, forecasts envision neither Bacot nor Love being selected in the June 22 NBA draft.

2023 ACC Teams By Scoring, Pt. Margin, 3s And FTs Made Per Game
(Listed In Descending Order By Points Per Game, Through Feb. 19)
School PPG PtMar %Pts3 %PtsFT
UM 79.7 +8.6 28.7 17.8
NS 78.6 +9.4 32.4 15.5
WF 78.0 +4.1 35.6 19.1
NC 77.9 +5.3 26.4 21.9
UP 74.9 +7.0 36.9 21.9
VT 74.7 +5.4 32.1 15.2
C 74.4 +6.3 32.0 18.9
SU 73.9 +3.3 25.0 18.0
D 71.6 +7.6 29.2 18.2
ND 70.1 -1.9 38.3 13.8
FS 69.6 -6.7 28.5 19.3
V 69.1 +9.0 32.1 19.6
GT 68.1 -2.3 31.5 14.4
BC 66.3 -4.4 25.4 17.7
UL 64.5 -2.3 31.5 14.4