Duke-Louisville headlines this week around the ACC
A look at things to watch this week in the Atlantic Coast Conference:
GAME OF THE WEEKEND: No. 4 Duke at No. 6 Louisville. This was supposed to be Mike Krzyzewski’s first chance at the 1,000th victory of his Hall of Fame career. But the Blue Devils (14-2) have much more important things to worry about, after back-to-back double-digit losses to North Carolina State and Miami. That’s taken a bit of luster off this matchup with Rick Pitino’s Cardinals (15-2), who will honor their 1980 national championship team. A key member of that team was the late Derek Smith – whose son Nolan helped Duke claim its last national title in 2010.
LOOKING AHEAD: Wake Forest might be off to the most encouraging 1-4 start in league history. The Demon Deacons put serious scares into Louisville, Duke and Syracuse before losing those three by a combined 20 points. Now they have another chance to give first-year coach Danny Manning a marquee victory when North Carolina visits Joel Coliseum.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Angel Rodriguez helped Miami claim the most surprising victory of the season in the ACC – the Hurricanes’ 90-74 romp over No. 4 Duke that ended the Blue Devils’ 41-game home winning streak. Now he’ll try to lead the Hurricanes to another win on a nationally ranked ACC team’s home floor when they visit No. 12 Notre Dame on Saturday. Against Duke, the Kansas State transfer scored 24 points, hit four 3-pointers, had five steals and had his way with Duke’s guards at both ends. ”We felt like … they were going to allow us kind of to do what we wanted to do,” Rodriguez said.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Only two teams have yet to lose an ACC game and those teams – No. 2 Virginia and Syracuse – are getting it done with defense. Tony Bennett’s ”pack-line” defense allows a league-fewest 51.1 points per game while the 2-3 zone employed by Orange coach Jim Boeheim ranks third, giving up an average of 57.5 points. Virginia is also the ACC’s best rebounding team, with an average margin of plus-11.8, while Syracuse ranks second in the league in steals (8.9 per game) and is third in turnover margin (plus-2.69).
ON THE WOMEN’S SIDE: No. 4 Louisville has had just as soft a landing in the ACC as Notre Dame did a year ago. The Cardinals and Miami are the only teams without a conference loss, and they’re on a seven-game winning streak with a run of four straight games against ACC teams either ranked or receiving votes. That stretch begins next Thursday at No. 20 Florida State.
Compiled by AP Sports Writer Joedy McCreary in Raleigh, North Carolina.