Coach K’s bid for 1,000th win headlines this week in the ACC
A look at things to watch this week in the Atlantic Coast Conference:
GAME OF THE WEEKEND: No. 5 Duke at St. John’s. History is once again on the line for Mike Krzyzewski, whose next victory will make him the first Division I men’s coach with 1,000 for his career. This shapes up as his best chance to do it this month because the Blue Devils’ next two games are at No. 8 Notre Dame and No. 2 Virginia. Krzyzewski says the goals that matter most him involve the team, not merely himself. ”It’ll be a heck of a thing when and if it’s done,” Coach K said, ”but it’s not a championship.”
LOOKING AHEAD: Syracuse may have fallen out of the national rankings, but the Orange (14-5, 5-1) remain very much in the ACC race. They enter the weekend tied with Notre Dame for second in the league behind Virginia and – after playing host to Miami on Saturday – can make a significant statement Monday night when they visit No. 15 North Carolina.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Jerian Grant might be the biggest reason for Notre Dame’s dramatic turnaround. The Fighting Irish didn’t have him for academic reasons down the stretch last year and lost 13 of their final 20 games. With Grant leading the way, Notre Dame has soared into the top 10 and into contention in the league. Grant is the ACC’s fifth-leading scorer (16.7 ppg) and averages a league-best 6.4 assists – with at least five of them in nine straight games entering Thursday night’s game at Virginia Tech.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and Boston College were a combined 0-14 in ACC play after Wednesday night’s games and the league’s bottom three teams have a few things in common. They all rank 11th or worse in scoring offense, scoring margin and assist-turnover ratio. BC has yet to score 70 points in an ACC game while the Hokies and Yellow Jackets have only done it once apiece – with Tech needing two overtimes to do it in a loss to Notre Dame.
ON THE WOMEN’S SIDE: It’s always a big deal when Duke plays North Carolina – even when the traditional powers are a bit down. When the 15th-ranked Blue Devils visit the 12th-ranked Tar Heels on Sunday, it will mark their first matchup since 2000 in which neither team was in the Top 10. Duke is the league’s toughest team to both shoot and rebound against, while North Carolina has the ACC’s third-best scoring offense.
Compiled by AP Sports Writer Joedy McCreary in Raleigh, North Carolina.