Duke-Clemson matchup could help decide 2nd place in ACC
A look at the upcoming week around the Atlantic Coast Conference:
GAME OF THE WEEKEND: No. 12 Duke at No. 11 Clemson. The weekend’s only matchup of ranked ACC teams could help decide the race for the No. 2 seed in next month’s ACC Tournament, pitting the preseason favorite Blue Devils (21-5, 9-4) against one of the league’s biggest surprises. The Tigers (20-5, 9-4) were picked to finish 13th before the season but are trying to sew up a double-bye in the league tournament. They enter this one tied for second; Duke is coming off its second straight victory without injured star Marvin Bagley III while Clemson was knocked off by Florida State in overtime after leading by 18.
LOOKING AHEAD: At the other end of the ACC’s spectrum is Pittsburgh (8-19, 0-14), which is trying to avoid becoming the first team since Boston College two years ago to finish 0-18 in conference play. The Panthers’ best chance to avoid that dubious note in the history book might come next Wednesday night in a visit from Wake Forest – which is 14th in the conference, even after beating 13th-place Georgia Tech , and has taken a clear step back after making the NCAA Tournament last year.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Kyle Guy is the clear face of Virginia’s climb to its first No. 1 ranking since the Ralph Sampson era. The sophomore guard has scored in double figures in 11 straight games and in 14 of his past 15, and has made at least one 3-pointer in a league-best 25 consecutive games – the longest streak by a Cavalier in a decade.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: The ACC entered Thursday night’s games with four teams in the top eight of the RPI, easily the most of any conference. That list is led by No. 1 Virginia and Clemson is at No. 6. Duke was one spot behind the Tigers, with rival North Carolina a spot behind them. According to the RPI’s formula, the Tar Heels have played the second-toughest schedule in the nation while Virginia’s strength-of-schedule rating is No. 7.
ON THE WOMEN’S SIDE: Perennial league champion Notre Dame (23-2, 11-1) will need someone to pull a colossal upset to claim yet another No. 1 seed in the conference tournament that begins Feb. 28 in Greensboro, North Carolina. Louisville (25-2, 11-1) has the inside track to its first top seed since joining the conference – the Cardinals won the head-to-head matchup with Notre Dame – and none of its final four opponents are in the Top 25. Louisville plays at Boston College on Thursday night and at North Carolina on Sunday.
Compiled by AP Sports Writer Joedy McCreary in Raleigh, North Carolina.
More AP college basketball: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-Top25