NC State-Louisville, Duke-Notre Dame headline week in ACC
A look at things to watch this week in the Atlantic Coast Conference:
GAME OF THE WEEKEND: North Carolina State at No. 13 Louisville. Star freshman point guard Dennis Smith Jr. led the Wolfpack (14-7, 3-5) to the program’s first win at Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium since 1995 on Monday night, turning in a dominant performance in one of college basketball’s toughest environments. Can he perform similar magic on the road against the Cardinals and their rugged defense Sunday? Louisville (17-4, 5-3) has an injury-depleted backcourt, playing the past three games without Quentin Snider (hip) and losing guard Tony Hicks for several weeks with a broken bone in his right hand suffered Tuesday at Pittsburgh.
LOOKING AHEAD: No. 17 Duke is struggling as it heads to No. 14 Notre Dame on Monday night. The Blue Devils (15-5, 3-4) are coming off that home loss to N.C. State and visit Wake Forest on Saturday, with associate head coach Jeff Capel – still leading the team while Mike Krzyzewski recovers from back surgery – tinkering with rotations and lineups to find the right combinations. The Fighting Irish (17-4, 6-2) have lost two of three since a 5-0 ACC start and first must visit a better-than-expected Georgia Tech team on Saturday.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Wake Forest’s John Collins is certainly proving to be an efficient threat, as long as he can avoid foul trouble. The 6-foot-10 sophomore ranks in the top 10 in the ACC in scoring (17.0), rebounding (9.0), blocks (1.6) and shooting percentage (60.2) through Tuesday’s games. He has scored at least 21 points in three straight games, too, entering the Duke game.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Winning on the road is never easy and it’s once again tough to do in the ACC. Only three teams – North Carolina (3-1), Virginia (4-1) and Notre Dame (3-1) – enter the weekend with winning records in conference games on the road. The bottom 10 teams have combined for just six ACC road victories and none of them are better than 1-3. Last year, visiting teams won just 34.1 percent of their ACC road games and only two schools – North Carolina and Duke – finished above .500 in league play away from home.
ON THE WOMEN’S SIDE: Sue Semrau has No. 6 Florida State rolling again. The Seminoles (19-2, 7-1) entered Thursday night’s game at Georgia Tech having won a league-best six straight with four of those victories coming against Top 25 teams. Florida State, the league’s highest-ranked team, is the only ACC school that’s perfect on the road.
Compiled by AP Basketball Writer Aaron Beard and AP Sports Writer Joedy McCreary in Raleigh, North Carolina.
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