ACC Roundup, Dec. 29-Jan. 4: Double OT week leads up to top-25 matchups
It looked like a slow first weekend of conference play on paper, and then we saw two ACC matchups unexpectedly go to double overtime, both involving the ACC’s ranked teams.
This week, though will feature three matchups of ranked teams, starting tonight as No. 13 Notre Dame travels to Chapel Hill to take on surging No. 18 North Carolina. The Tar Heels will then host No. 5 Louisville on Saturday while Notre Dame will host No. 3 Virginia, too.
Should be a fun week all around.
ALL-ACC TEAM (DEC. 30-JAN. 4)
Jahlil Okafor, Duke: This should be pretty self-explanatory: Okafor averaged 26.3 points on 30-of-39 shooting (nearly 77 percent) to go with 8.0 rebounds, 1.0 assist and 2.3 blocks in three games last week (all wins) for the Blue Devils. He scored 79 points in 93 minutes and missed nine shots. NINE! He also went 19 of 28 from the foul line including 14 of 17 against Boston College, and set a new career high twice in one week. That’s a pretty amazing week for Duke’s talented freshman center. Or, you know, anyone.
Marcus Georges-Hunt, Georgia Tech: The junior guard is going to have to score for the Yellow Jackets, and score he did last week, averaging 22.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in two games (a win and an overtime loss at Notre Dame). Georges-Hunt was 16 of 35 from the field but 14 of 26 from two, and that’s really where he needs to be shooting more often than not, probably. He’s shooting just 18.2 percent from three. But he also got to the foul line 11 times and made all 11. All in all, very good week.
Devin Thomas, Wake Forest: Thomas averaged 21 points and 10 rebounds in two games this week for the Deacs. One was a win, the other a close game with Louisville — but it was the game against Louisville that landed him on this list. He scored a career-high 31 points on 11-of-14 shooting and was dominant throughout most of the game. It just goes to show what happens when the mercurial junior has his head on straight.
Montrezl Harrell/Terry Rozier, Louisville: Harrell had 20 points in the first half alone at Wake and finished with 41 in two games this week, adding 16 rebounds. Oh, and he was 16 of 25 shooting. Rozier, meanwhile, was 15-of-28 shooting and also averaged 20.5 points, and his impact on the Wake Forest game — both when he was on the court and when he wasn’t — showed how important he is to this Louisville team.
Jerian Grant, Notre Dame: The senior guard — one of the league’s best — averaged 19.5 points in two games (both wins) for the Irish, adding 6.0 assists to boot. While 24 of those came in one game — the double-overtime win over Georgia Tech — he also did this in that game, and that’s worth a spot on this team and edging out Angel Rodriguez if nothing else.
Honorable mentions: The aforementioned Angel Rodriguez, Miami’s transfer point guard, averaged 20 points (albeit on 12-of-31 shooting) in two games for Miami this week, including a double-overtime loss to Virginia. … Syracuse’s Rakeem Christmas averaged 18 points on 15-of-24 shooting in two games, adding 9.0 rebounds and 2.5 blocks (both games were wins). … Duke’s Quinn Cook averaged 16.7 points in three games for Duke last week (all wins). … For Boston College, guard Aaron Brown (16.5 ppg) and Olivier Hanlan (16.0 ppg) had nice weeks, particularly Hanlan who broke out of a funk with 22 in the loss at Duke. … Clemson’s Jaron Blossomgame averaged 14.5 points and 8.0 rebounds in two games, while NC State’s Ralston Turner averaged 14.5 points and made 4-of-11 three’s in NC State’s two games.
Special shoutouts: Notre Dame’s Demetrius Jackson averaged 14.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists in two wins last week, while teammate Zach Auguste continues his nice season by averaging 14 points on 10-of-14 shooting through two games. … Florida State’s Devon Bookert scored 16 in the loss to Mississippi State, including going 4 of 6 from three, something FSU desperately needs. … UVa’s Justin Anderson averaged 15.0 points in two games, while Anthony Gill added 15.5 and 9.5 rebounds. … Speaking of UVa, its sophomore point guard London Perrantes had 26 points in the win at Miami, not to mention eight assists and three turnovers. … Louisville’s Chris Jones scored all 22 of his points last week in the win at Wake, including making a number of key shots on Sunday night, to go with 10 assists and three steals.
Okafor has been mentioned, but teammate Justise Winslow averaged 12.7 points on over 50 percent shooting in three games last week, adding 6.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists. … Clemson’s Donte Grantham averaged 11 points and 5.5 rebounds in Clemson’s two games, while Virginia Tech’s Justin Bibbs and Wake’s Mitchell Wilbekin each averaged 13.0 ppg. … FSU’s freshman duo of Xavier Rathan-Meyes and Phil Cofer combined for 21 points in the loss at Mississippi State. … Miami’s duo, not to be outmatched, Omar Sherman averaged 9.0 points in two wins and Deandre Burnett added 9.5. … Virginia’s Marial Shayok scored 12 points in two games, but nine of them (plus a career-high 31 minutes in a relief of a foul-saddled Malcolm Brogdon) came in the win at Miami. … North Carolina’s Justin Jackson averaged 10.0 points on over 50 percent shooting in two games. … Louisville’s Shaqquan Aaron scored 11 points through two games, all 11 at Wake.
THE "I SEE YOU WORKING" TEAM OF THE WEEK
No. 18 North Carolina. Yes, the Tar Heels are generally one of the more scrutinized teams regardless of what they’re doing, but two of their three best offensive performances since November came this past week against William and Mary and Clemson. Yes, opponent strength should be considered, but the latter was on the road and defense is really the only thing Clemson generally prides itself on. Also, the Tar Heels went to Clemson and absolutely throttled the Tigers; head coach Roy Williams said afterwards the first half was the best they’ve played all season. A good time to be clicking, certainly, and we’ll see if it pays off.
ACC WIN OF THE WEEK
NC State over Pittsburgh, 68-50. The Wolfpack just demolished the Panthers, and it took only about eight minutes or so for things to really get into gear. They worked for everything they got in that game, becoming the scrappier, tougher-minded team than their opponent. Considering their opponent was a Jamie Dixon-coached Pitt team, that seems hard to believe, and yet that’s what happened. It was impressive in every facet, and a much-needed victory for a Wolfpack team that was reeling after the 76-60 loss to Cincinnati.
#goacc TEAM OF THE WEEK
Florida State. I’m not going to pick on the Seminoles too much here — they’re young and depleted — but it is puzzling to beat Florida on Tuesday, then travel to a Mississippi State team that’s 187th in Ken Pom — 164 spots lower than Florida — and lose. Florida State had been on a roll since Aaron Thomas was declared ineligible; that is not a good loss, though (their worst by Ken Pom’s rankings this year, by far) and it’s going to be an uphill battle for them in ACC play.
Honorable mentions: Pittsburgh earned one, probably. It’s one thing to lose on the road in ACC play — it’s another to be out-worked by a team that’s not known for doing that. And Pitt had generated a ton of positive momentum entering that game. It remains a bit of a head-scratcher that the Panthers weren’t at least more competitive at NC State.
#goacc PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Eddie Odio. Boston College’s senior wing missed some time due to injury, so maybe some of this is him readjusting to life at the collegiate level, but he was plain old bad for the Eagles last week. In two games, he played 35 minutes and scored two points on 1-of-9 shooting. He did have two rebounds, two assists and two steals, but he also added six fouls and three turnovers.
Odio was averaging 4.4 points per game before the injury, so it’s not like he was tearing it up, but he was shooting 7 of 16 from the floor (he had attempted more three’s than two’s, though) and he wasn’t turning it over like he has been. He’s one of their more experienced players, and he can’t hurt them with bad shots or mistakes.
Honorable mentions: Louisville sophomore big man Mangok Mathiang played 32 minutes in two games, missed his only field-goal attempt, missed all three of his free-throw attempts, pulled down six rebounds but committed six fouls in a total of 32 minutes over two games. … Pitt sophomore Josh Newkirk did have 11 points in two games last week, but he did it on 4-of-13 shooting, adding five assists, four steals but six fouls and six turnovers in 39 total minutes. … Speaking of scorers who made this list, NC State’s Kyle Washington was 4 of 13 from the floor in two games as well, adding eight rebounds but no assists, one steal, two blocks, five fouls and three turnovers in 32 minutes (two games). … FSU’s Dayshawn Watkins played two minutes, turned it over once and missed the front end of a 1-and-1 against Mississippi State, while teammate Michael Ojo had a tough night, making his only shot but committing two fouls and turning it over three times in just 11 minutes.
GAMES TO WATCH
-No. 13 Notre Dame (14-1, 2-0 ACC) at No. 18 North Carolina (11-3, 1-0 ACC), Monday, 7:00 p.m.
The Irish are playing as well offensively as any team in the country, but they’re running into one of the better defensive teams in college hoops in North Carolina. And Notre Dame is coming off of a grueling double-overtime win on Saturday while the Tar Heels are at home and cruised to victory Saturday night.
-NC State (11-4, 2-0 ACC) at No. 3 Virginia (13-0, 1-0 ACC), Wednesday, 7:00 p.m.
Virginia lost a big lead late at Miami and needed two overtimes to fight off the Hurricanes, while NC State seems to have found some confidence and toughness at the right time. But will it be enough against the Cavaliers, a team that makes things so difficult for opponents on both ends of the floor?
-No. 5 Louisville (13-1, 1-0 ACC) at No. 18 North Carolina, Saturday, 2:00 p.m.
North Carolina’s teams like to get out and run. That’s never stopped Louisville head coach Rick Pitino from pressing and trying to run with the Tar Heels. That hasn’t always worked out, but this UNC team is a bit more turnover-prone than some past ones — will it work this time? It’s always exciting to see two coaching heavyweights go up against teach other in Pitino and Roy Williams, too.
-No. 3 Virginia at No. 13 Notre Dame, Saturday, 6:00 p.m.
In this game, there’s great offense versus great offense and defense. Pretty easy matchup on paper, but games are never played there and Virginia showed mortality in its first ACC road game of the season. If Notre Dame can get the kinds of shots it wants, the Irish are plenty good on offense to at least keep this one close. Virginia is now the hunted, and it’s going to have to adjust to that.
-No. 2 Duke (13-0, 1-0 ACC) at NC State, Sunday, 1:30 p.m.
The Wolfpack will come into this game in the midst of the toughest three-game stretch of its schedule — at No. 3 Virginia on Wednesday, No. 2 Duke at home on Saturday and then No. 18 North Carolina at home the following Wednesday. Depending on what happened to them in Charlottesville, they’ll either be desperate or confident. Regardless, Raleigh is a very tough place to play for a lot of ACC teams and it will be the toughest ACC game Duke will have played to date (the Blue Devils get Wake Forest on Wednesday).