NC State-UNC, Syracuse-Duke games headline this 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. 5 North Carolina. The Tar Heels (15-2, 4-0) haven't lost an ACC game. The Wolfpack (10-7, 0-4) haven't won one yet – but they would love nothing more than to spoil their top rival's best start since 2000-01, when North Carolina opened 11-0 in the league. North Carolina State point guard Anthony ''Cat'' Barber leads the league in scoring (22.5 points per game) but the Wolfpack need much more from their supporting cast if they're to turn things around.
LOOKING AHEAD: No. 9 Duke (14-3, 3-1) hosts Syracuse on Monday in a matchup that marks Jim Boeheim's first game at Cameron Indoor Stadium since his memorable jacket-shedding ejection in the final moments of the Blue Devils' win two years ago. Boeheim is back after a nine-game suspension during which the Orange (11-7, 1-4) slipped to the bottom of the ACC. It's also the last trip to Cameron for Michael Gbinije, who started his college career at Duke in 2011 before transferring to Syracuse.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Duke big man Marshall Plumlee turned in impressive performances last week, establishing career highs in scoring in consecutive games with 18 points against Wake Forest and then 21 against Virginia Tech – the first time he's reached double figures in back-to-back games. He combined to shoot 13 of 14 from the field and 13 of 14 from the foul line in those two games.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: ACC teams have generally been strong on the boards. Thirteen of the league's 15 teams are pulling down more rebounds than they're allowing, with Louisville leading the way and ranking second nationally with a rebounding margin of plus-13.3. It's probably no coincidence that the two teams with negative rebounding margins – Syracuse (minus-1.2) and Boston College (minus-3.9) – are a combined 1-7 in league play, with that lone victory coming when the Orange beat BC.
ON THE WOMEN'S SIDE: The No. 22 Duke Blue Devils (12-5, 1-2) entered Thursday night's game against North Carolina State with their lowest national ranking since 1999 – when they also dipped to No. 22 – and have lost two of three by a combined 43 points. Yes, they miss graduated shot-blocker Elizabeth Williams. Part of the problem lies at the 3-point line: They're making less than five 3s per game – ranking 251st in Division I – and allowed Syracuse to hit 14 of them in a 26-point loss. Maybe they can turn things around with five manageable games before they host No. 3 Notre Dame on Feb. 1.
Compiled by AP Sports Writer Joedy McCreary in Raleigh, North Carolina.