By Lauren Brownlow
Four games on a Wednesday?! That's what ACCtion gives us this week, and these games are....well, they are games that must be played. At least two of them, though, could be illuminating. Louisville travels to Miami in the Also Receiving Votes Game (for the record, Louisville made my top 25 and Miami didn't), while Boston College will try to finally get a win of consequence on the road at a Syracuse team that would love to find the basket. Oh, and Florida State is looking to get on an ACC winning streak. Just, any winning streak. Speaking of winning, NC State didn't win against Miami. But you know a team that most teams win against? Pitt. That's who.
NC STATE (13-7, 3-4) AT PITTSBURGH (8-12, 0-7)
Time: 9:00 p.m.
TV: ACC Network
Listen, NC State people. I know any game scares you at this point. Literally any game! But there is no real need to fear this game. Let me put this in perspective -- NC State has played six teams ranked lower than Pitt this season and the closest Wolfpack win was 18 points. Want to look at Robert Morris, ranked 32 spots higher than Pitt in Ken Pom? Okay! NC State still beat them by 12. Look, I get it, it's ACC play and weird and Pitt is supposedly getting better. This was a thing that both Kevin Stallings and Coach K said after the game at Duke on Saturday, and seemingly both were serious. Pitt is not good at anything. Well, they do get to the foul line. And they do have like one guy that can make three-pointers. Oh, and NC State's defense is still 14th in ACC games only. But if the Wolfpack can force turnovers (and Pitt has turned it over on a quarter of its possessions in league play), then it should be just fine. Oh and if NC State plays smart enough offensively, which they are certainly capable of doing. Just feed the BIg Yurt, share the ball and get out of there with a win.
NAMES TO KNOW
Torin Dorn. The way that the junior has been playing has been quietly very, very good. Dorn entered this year having hit double figures in scoring just three times in his career against ACC opponents, although he'd done it plenty against lesser-tier foes. This year, that trend seemed to be continuing. He had single digits in three of NC State's first four ACC games -- until the last three, where he's hit double figures in three straight games now. And in NC State's last road game at Virginia, he had 16 on 7-of-12 shooting -- a stat line that's not easy to post against that defense. NC State really, really needs solid guard play and reliable backcourt scoring, and Dorn has been really good at getting a bucket whenever NC State needs one, particularly late in games. And he's been the power forward in a small lineup that NC State has been using quite a bit as of late, and rebounding surprisingly effectively out of that lineup.
Marcus Carr. Look, the last guy I picked as a name to know for Pitt was called "thicc with two c's" repeatedly by the Cameron Crazies, and those c's totaled one less than his shot attempts (three). So instead, I decided to go with Marcus Carr, one of Pitt's freshman that will either grow from or be broken from this experience. He did play a decent enough game in Cameron, scoring 12 points on 5-of-13 shooting (his five made two-pointers tied a season high and set a new ACC high). He also had two assists and just one turnover in a game where his teammates were literally throwing the ball to Duke seemingly every other possession. So he might be a guy who in three years we say "hey, remember when he was on that awful Pitt team as a freshman?" Or maybe he's a guy whose college highlight will be, like Dennis Clifford, going out to eat.
NC State Win:
NC State Loss:
NC State, 74-62. Okay, skeptical NC State fans. I will at least give you Pitt's closest margin of defeat this season. Are you happy?
GEORGIA TECH (10-9, 3-3) AT FLORIDA STATE (14-5, 3-4)
Time: 7:00 p.m.
TV: ACC Network
FSU, your defense. Woof. BUT HEY, GOOD NEWS! GEORGIA TECH'S OFFENSE IS ACTUALLY TERRIBLE! So it's time for Florida State to have an ACC winning streak. No, seriously, it doesn't have one yet this year so it's time. But FSU's offense will be tested against a Georgia Tech team that, to its credit, hasn't stopped defending extremely hard. Florida State has yet to win a game this year in league play when it doesn't hit at least nine three-pointers -- FSU is 31-of-81 from three in three ACC wins and, throwing out the 15-of-32 in the close Duke loss, 18-of-74 in the losses since. Only one Georgia Tech ACC opponent has even hit nine three-pointers against the Yellow Jackets. Not since Coppin State did it back in late December. See, okay, this is why people don't like you, Georgia Tech. Don't lose to Grambling at home and FLIRT with losing to Coppin freaking State and then all of a sudden turn into some RPI ruiner in league play. Ugh, I am now more nervous about this game from Florida State's perspective.
But Florida State's defense was good headed into conference play and since, it has allowed every single ACC opponent it has faced to post an offensive efficiency of 100 or better after allowing just two non-conference opponents to do that. Some of the offenses FSU has faced in this stretch have been pretty potent, including three of the top 30 offenses in the country. Georgia Tech is the worst offense they have seen since Dec. 18. It's time, Seminoles. Do some defense.
Georgia Tech Win:
Georgia Tech Loss:
Florida State Win:
Florida State Loss:
Florida State, 75-67. This one will be close, I fear. If it were in Atlanta I might straight up pick Georgia Tech, but alas. I'm just ready to see if Jose Alvarado tries to step over CJ Walker or something.
BOSTON COLLEGE (13-7, 3-4) AT SYRACUSE (13-6, 2-4)
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Perhaps at some point in the eight days off that Syracuse has had, the Orange have learned how to offense. At least we know their shooting legs won't be tired! Syracuse did manage to hit over 50% of its two-point tries in the win over Pitt for just the second time in ACC play, but then they went cold from three, making an ACC-low 27.8%, and failed to get on the offensive boards. I mean you kind of have to throw out anything that happens against Pitt unless it's bad, right? Syracuse's defense has made life tough on every single ACC opponent from inside the arc -- outside it is a different story, though -- and that's definitely one area Boston College could have an advantage. The Eagles shoot 38.1% from three and have multiple really good guards who can knock that shot down, Ky Bowman's nightmarish game against Louisville not withstanding. The Eagles score most of their points from three rather than two anyway. So it will really come down to how well Boston College can defend, and how they handle a road environment that will be tough. At Virginia and Louisville? That answer was, largely, pretty okay, even in losses. (Virginia more so than Louisville). At North Carolina? That answer was, um, not well. Syracuse doesn't seem all that capable of hanging a 30-point beatdown on anyone right now anyway, and a low-possession game will definitely help keep BC hanging around. The Eagles have held consecutive opponents to under 100 in offensive efficiency (Florida State and Louisville). Can they do enough defensively to actually get a win in the Carrier Dome?
Boston College Win:
Boston College Loss:
Syracuse, 63-59. I don't trust the Eagles to do this, although I think they're capable.
LOUISVILLE (15-4, 5-1) AT MIAMI (14-4, 3-3)
Time: 8:00 p.m.
Ooh! This game is fun. University 6 versus University 7! (Check the Adidas indictments if you don't get that reference, people.) Louisville is on a roll, sitting solidly in second place in the ACC with a 5-1 record and having won four in a row. Their road wins have perhaps been more impressive than their home wins as they knocked off a then-ranked Florida State and broke the Seminoles' long home win streak, then beat Notre Dame in double overtime in the Irish's first game with Matt Farrell back. Miami, meanwhile, looked like it was ready to run Duke out of the building last week in what would have been its biggest and most-needed win to date before collapsing late, only to become the first team to win at NC State that weekend. The Hurricanes still don't have a win of note, but that NC State game showed there's plenty of talent on that roster worth fearing and Miami does get up at home for big-name opponents, of which Louisville certainly is.
Here's the thing, though -- while this game is in Coral Gables, Miami's offense likely will not look as good as it did against NC State. Mostly because if Louisville gets them into the halfcourt, they will defend a lot better than NC State did (or they should, anyway). So while Miami shot the lights out from three against NC State, Louisville is not likely to let Miami even get comfortable enough to start getting hot. The key for Louisville, though, will be avoiding turnovers -- the Cardinals are 11th in ACC-only turnover percentage, and Miami's defense ranks second in that category. If they start turning it over and giving Miami easy buckets in transition, that....could be problematic, especially as Miami's halfcourt defense, in spite of its non-conference dominance and reputation for being good under Jim Larranaga, hasn't been all that great in league play.
Both of these teams also need their best players to be their best players -- namely, Bruce Brown for Miami and Deng Adel for Louisville. Brown finally got going against NC State, where Adel has been pretty consistent all year but has been REALLY good in this four-game stretch, averaging 19 points on 55% shooting.
Miami Win: Is Miami....good?
Miami Loss: Sighami.
Louisville, 77-71. Louisville will hit a snag at some point, but for whatever reason, I don't think it'll be here.
Last week: 11-3 (11-3 ACC)
Overall: 49-17 (37-15)
Source : http://www.wralsportsfan.com/nc-state-seeks-first-road-win-and-more-wednesday-acction/17280759/