No. 4 Virginia visits No. 1 Duke to top ACC weekend slate
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A look at the upcoming week around the Atlantic Coast Conference:
GAME OF THE WEEKEND
No. 4 Virginia at No. 1 Duke. A year ago, Virginia (16-0, 4-0) won in Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium to essentially wrap up the ACC regular-season race by late January. The Cavaliers have a chance to again take firm control of the league in Durham on Saturday, days after they beat No. 9 Virginia Tech by 22 points. As for the Blue Devils (14-2, 3-1), there’s plenty of dynamic firepower in star freshmen RJ Barrett (23.4 points) and Zion Williamson (21.2) but also uncertainty as to how their defense will look after freshman point guard Tre Jones went down with a shoulder injury early in Monday’s overtime loss to Syracuse. Jones is a strong on-ball presence at the helm of that unit, but he’s out indefinitely. Duke was also without freshman Cam Reddish in that game due to flu-like symptoms. “Obviously we’re a different team,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said.
After a lopsided loss at Virginia, Virginia Tech has another shot to beat a ranked opponent on the road when it visits No. 13 North Carolina on Monday night. The Hokies (14-2, 3-1) first face Wake Forest (which upset No. 17 North Carolina State on Tuesday night) before visiting Chapel Hill to face the Tar Heels (13-4, 3-1), who are coming off home win against Notre Dame.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Syracuse’s Tyus Battle had a huge game against Duke and will try to keep rolling Saturday against Pittsburgh. The preseason all-ACC pick had a combined 23 points on 7-for-25 shooting (28 percent) against Clemson and Georgia Tech before scoring 32 points against the Blue Devils. Battle’s shooting accuracy is up (.452) from last season, but he has made just 3 of 17 3-pointers in four league games.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
First-year coach Jeff Capel has led Pittsburgh (12-5, 2-2) to home wins against Louisville and No. 11 Florida State to surpass their ACC win total from the previous two years. The Panthers had lost 23 straight regular-season ACC games after beating Florida State in February 2017 before the Louisville win on Jan. 9, the second-longest streak in league history (Clemson owns the record with 26 straight from 1954-56). Pitt had lost 25 of 26 against ACC opponents overall, the only win coming against Georgia Tech in the 2017 ACC Tournament followed by last season’s 0-19 mark.
ON THE WOMEN’S SIDE
The ACC has a heavy presence in the top of the AP Top 25 poll with top-ranked Notre Dame, fourth-ranked Louisville, No. 8 N.C. State and No. 12 Syracuse. The Wolfpack (17-0, 4-0) has the program’s best start to stand as the last unbeaten team in the country entering Sunday’s game against Virginia Tech.