ACC Capsules: Joe Harris makes all-ACC case

Joe Harris has proven his worth in the ACC, but can he make the all-conference team? Plus, more capsules.

Even more quiet than Virginia’s push for a top-three finish in the ACC standings is junior wing Joe Harris’ bid for first-team All-ACC.

The Cavaliers enter a crucial road game at North Carolina at 18-6 overall and 8-3 in the ACC. The Cavs’ RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) of 79 isn’t backed up by their impressive record, though. Harris’ play, however, is. And just recently the two have complemented each other, which is why Virginia has positioned itself so nicely in the ACC.

Virginia has won seven of its last eight games, and in that stretch is scoring 18.4 points per contest. This time a year ago, Harris’ game went into the tank, as he played with a broken hand out of necessity. Virginia fell apart, too.

Harris is healthy now and is playing as well as anyone in the conference. For the season, he’s averaging 16.3 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists per outing, plus the Washington native is converting 48.4 percent of his 3-point attempts, as well.

Tuesday’s 26-point effort in a home win over rival Virginia Tech was Harris’ seventh 20-point game this season and third in a row. His game is growing at just the right time of the season.

“Joe has a nice compact shot,” coach Tony Bennett said after Tuesday’s game. “He can leave the floor, so he can get it off with his size. He’s really moving well without the ball. The rotation’s good, the arc’s good, all that stuff. He has the ability to really move without the ball, but he’s added the threat of if you come up tight, he can get by you.”

Harris doesn’t need to have a huge game in order for the Wahoos to beat the Tar Heels (16-8, 6-5) on Saturday for a second time this season, but if he does, UVa’s chances at victory are significantly greater.

Pick: UNC, 67-60

Feb. 16

Boston College (11-13, 3-8) at Florida State (13-11, 5-6)

When: Noon
Full Court Press: FSU may well be flat after falling at home to Miami on Wednesday night. So this is a dangerous game, as BC is playing fairly well of late. The Seminoles need Michael Snaer to play like an All-ACC player, which he hasn’t done that much this season, and Boston College must stroke from the perimeter.
Pick: FSU, 65-58.

Virginia Tech (11-13, 2-9) at N.C. State (17-7, 6-5)

When: 2 p.m.
Full Court Press: The banged up Wolfpack have had a week to get healthier, so expect Lorenzo Brown nearly at full strength and a rejuvenated N.C. State team to play at high level. The Hokies’ Erick Green may be attempting to become the first ACC player to lead the nation in scoring since 1957, but otherwise, the Hokies are in a free-fall.
Pick: N.C. State, 84-61.

Georgia Tech (13-10, 3-8) at Wake Forest (11-13, 4-8)

When: 2 p.m.
Full Court Press: Interesting game, as Wake Forest has played well at home over the last six weeks in beating Xavier, Virginia, N.C. State and Florida State and hanging with Duke. But, the Yellow Jackets are improving, and the combination of Robert Carter, Daniel Miller and Kammeon Holsey might be too much for Wake Forest's slight front line. But the Demon Deacons' extra energy at home will help it find a way to win.
Pick: Wake Forest, 67-63.

Duke (22-2, 9-2) at Maryland (17-7, 5-6)

When: 6 p.m.
Full Court Press: Might this be Duke’s last trip to Maryland? Expect a wild atmosphere at Comcast Center and also a terrific effort by the Terrapins. The Terps have the parts to beat Duke, but can those parts equal a whole good enough to take out a team that gets better with every game in the post-Ryan Kelly part of the season? This game could be a war, and if so, Maryland has a lot more bodies and is a desperate team in need of a quality win.
Pick: Maryland, 73-69.

Feb. 17

Miami (20-3, 11-0) at Clemson (13-11, 5-7)

When: 6 p.m.
Full Court Press: The Tigers have been very good at home under Brad Brownell in ACC games, and could catch the Hurricanes if the visitors are flat. But it’s unlikely that’s going to happen. Miami proves each game it’s capable and prepared to meet all challenges. The way the Canes overcame a slow start at FSU earlier in the week just a few days after blowing out UNC offers more evidence this team will do whatever it has to in order to keep the train running.
Pick: Miami, 64-54.

Season record: 165-40

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