ACC Roundup: Last week’s drama could spill over into the now
After a pretty crazy week — even by ACC standards — that saw a North Carolina-Duke thriller for the ages followed by a Louisville suspension, reinstatement and then dismissal, this week can’t possibly compare. And it likely won’t.
But the ramifications of last week’s drama — Louisville starting point guard Chris Jones’ ultimate dismissal, North Carolina potentially finding its way, etc. — will stay.
Heck, even Virginia nearly losing point guard London Perrantes as he and Malcolm Brogdon collided in a scary moment on Sunday night could have lasting implications, as the Cavaliers head to Wake Forest on Wednesday in a game that suddenly seems that much tougher.
Olivier Hanlan, Boston College: In three games last week, Hanlan averaged a ridiculous 27.7 points on 52.5 percent shooting, adding three assists per game as well and playing 42.3 minutes in that stretch. Boston College lost all three, but Hanlan had very little help and it’s certainly not his fault. It was good to see the junior find his groove after struggling a bit at the beginning of the season.
Devin Thomas, Wake Forest: It was just one game last week, but he put up 26 points in just 27 minutes at Notre Dame on 10-of-17 shooting, adding 11 rebounds to boot. He can be downright dominant at times, and this was one of those times. Wake hung tough with the Irish for awhile, and Thomas’ domination inside was — and remains — a big key.
Quinn Cook, Duke: It might be time to start thinking about the senior guard when it comes to ACC honors, if you weren’t already. In two games last week, he averaged 24.5 points on 54.5 percent shooting, adding 4.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists — oh, and 42.0 minutes per game, on average. He’s been one of, if not the, most valuable players.
Rakeem Christmas, Syracuse: Syracuse’s fantastic senior forward averaged 24.5 points in two games last week on 17-of-24 shooting, adding 10.0 rebounds, 3.0 blocks and 1.5 assists. He’s just been everything and more that Syracuse could have expected, and he’s probably the difference between Syracuse finishing with a respectable record this year (which it will) and an awful one.
Sheldon McClellan, Miami: The transfer guard/forward for Miami hadn’t had a huge impact for the Hurricanes until recently. In three games last week, he averaged 20.7 points on nearly 58 percent shooting, adding 2.7 assists as well. He was a big reason Miami went 2-1 in that stretch and kept itself alive in terms of its postseason hopes (albeit barely).
Speaking of Duke freshmen, Jahlil Okafor sat out the Clemson game with a sprained ankle, but finished the North Carolina game with 12 points and 13 rebounds in 41 (largely-hobbled) minutes. His teammate Grayson Allen had just two points in four minutes against the Tar Heels but had 10 in 18 minutes against Clemson (on 4-of-6 shooting). His points and minutes were both his most since the season-opener.
Louisville’s Quentin Snider went from playing 38 minutes and scoring 13 against Syracuse earlier this week to scoring no points in five minutes against Miami. But now that Chris Jones is suspended for good, they’ll need him.
Miami’s Deandre Burnett averaged 8.0 points in three games last week in 17.0 minutes on 6-of-12 shooting.
Notre Dame’s Bonzie Colson averaged 12 points on 10-of-13 shooting in just 13.5 minutes per game, continuing to provide energy off the bench for the Irish.
Justin Bibbs got back on track for Virginia Tech, averaging 15 points in two games on 11-of-23 shooting.
Virginia’s Marial Shayok bounced back with a nice week last week in (partial) relief of Justin Anderson, scoring 13 points on 4-of-6 shooting to go with 10 rebounds in two games.
FSU’s Xavier Rathan-Mayes averaged 13 points in two games, though he struggled shooting (8 of 29) while teammate Phil Cofer averaged 9.0 points and 6.0 rebounds in two games.
No. 9 Notre Dame: If you forgot about the Irish after the 90-60 beating they took at the hands of Duke in Durham, it’s hard to blame you. But since, they’ve won three in a row and after a somewhat ugly win over Clemson, they pulled away from a game Wake Forest team and then dominated Boston College, winning their last two by an average of 15 points.
Notre Dame scored 1.24 points per possession and 1.45 points per possession, respectively, in those wins, so it would appear that its offense is back. One more win and the Irish will have locked up a double-bye in the ACC Tournament as a top-four seed.
No. 4 Duke over No. 15 North Carolina, 92-90 (OT): Really, this was a game that felt like both teams deserved a share of, and there are plenty of games where it feels the opposite. It was a spectacular game, as both teams left all they had on the court and often executed at a very high level. One team had to win though, and ultimately that was Duke as Tyus Jones scored nine points in a little over a minute at the end of regulation to force overtime. It was a heck of a comeback and yet another impressive win for the Blue Devils.
Louisville: So, you suspend Chris Jones for a game and then lose at Syracuse, a team with no postseason hopes. Then, you bring him back and he goes off for 17 points against Miami, a team with some at-large hopes, essentially winning you that game.
Less than 24 hours after that win, you announce that Jones is suspended for the rest of the season. I mean, couldn’t you have at least made that decision before you wrecked the hopes of an ACC at-large team?
But seriously, this Jones saga has gone on long enough and Rick Pitino has been taking shots at his team all week. It seemingly worked well enough against Miami but even that was a ragged, ugly performance. The Cardinals don’t seem to be trending the right way after some promising games.
Trevor Cooney, Syracuse: The Orange need just about all they can get from everyone available on their roster, and Cooney had a rough week last week — he finished with three points in two games on 1-of-15 shooting (1 of 13 from three), adding 4.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.0 steals, at least. But his shooting has got to improve, or else he’s just got to stop shooting. It’s kind of that simple at this point.
No. 17 Louisville (21-6, 9-5 ACC) at Georgia Tech (12-15, 3-12 ACC), Monday, 7 p.m.
This isn’t interesting for the matchup so much as it is to see how Louisville looks in their first game without Chris Jones — permanently, this time. The Cardinals are 0-1 without him this season (losing at Syracuse), and now that this tumultuous chapter in the team’s history is over, maybe they rally and play better. Or maybe they fall apart.
NC State (16-11, 7-7 ACC) at No. 15 North Carolina (19-8, 9-5 ACC), Tuesday, 8 p.m.
The rivalry games between these two teams are almost always entertaining, but trips to Chapel Hill have been disastrous for the Wolfpack ever since Roy Williams took over as head coach in 2004. The Wolfpack haven’t won there since, and they’ve rarely even played well. They’re coming off of a convincing win over Virginia Tech, and North Carolina bounced back nicely from its heartbreaking loss at Duke with a demolition of Georgia Tech.
It should be fun to see these two teams face off with both at their best, and it certainly couldn’t hurt NC State to get yet another big-time win for NCAA Tournament at-large purposes.
No. 2 Virginia (25-1, 13-1 ACC) at Wake Forest (12-15, 4-10 ACC), Wednesday, 7 p.m.
Virginia is already down Justin Anderson — now, the Cavaliers will have to travel to Winston-Salem to face a tough Wake Forest team with a limited point guard as London Perrantes collided with Malcolm Brogdon on Sunday and probably broke his nose. Virginia already struggled with Wake Forest at home (also without Anderson); the Cavaliers are going to more than have their hands full in this one.
No. 15 North Carolina (19-8, 9-5 ACC) at Miami (17-10, 7-7 ACC), Saturday, 2 p.m.
North Carolina will have to fend off Louisville for that final double bye in the ACC Tournament. But to do it, UNC is probably going to have to win out — and this one is arguably the toughest test remaining.
Miami has played very well against its marquee opponents this year. The Hurricanes lost in double overtime to Virginia, lost at Notre Dame by five and beat Duke at Duke while splitting two games with Louisville by a combined margin of 10 points. This one won’t be easy by any stretch for the Tar Heels, but boy do they need it.
Pittsburgh (18-10, 7-7 ACC) at Wake Forest (12-15, 4-10 ACC), Sunday, 6:30 p.m.
If Pittsburgh wants to make the NCAA Tournament, at the very least, it’s probably going to have to win out in the regular season. This game is arguably the toughest obstacle standing in the way, as the Deacs are tough to play at home. Wake has a big week in terms of proving how far it’s come under Danny Manning, and this is a winnable game for the Deacs. The Virginia game might be too, but on paper this one is certainly more manageable.