Boeheim's return, No. 4 Virginia-No. 12 Miami top ACC play

BY foxsports • January 8, 2016

A look at things to watch this week in the Atlantic Coast Conference:

GAME OF THE WEEKEND: No. 6 North Carolina at Syracuse. The preseason favorite Tar Heels (14-2) are 3-0 in the ACC for the first time since their Final Four season of 2007-08, and they're chasing their first 4-0 start since starting 11-0 in 2000-01. They're headed to Syracuse (10-6, 0-3) in time for Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim's return from a nine-game NCAA suspension, which should add some juice to Saturday night's matchup in the Carrier Dome. ''I'm sure he'll have a chip on his shoulder that will reflect on us as well,'' leading scorer Michael Gbinije said after Tuesday's loss to Clemson. ''If he was to pick a game to come back, he picked the right one.''

LOOKING AHEAD: Fourth-ranked Virginia, which stumbled Monday at Virginia Tech, hosts No. 12 Miami on Tuesday in a matchup of ACC contenders. Miami (12-1, 1-0) is a veteran squad led by senior Sheldon McClellan (15.9 points) and averaging 83.6 points, but it made just 3 of 25 3-pointers against Syracuse last weekend - a product, coach Jim Larranaga said, of playing three times in three weeks to end December and focusing on defense. ''I just think we've got to get back in rhythm,'' he said.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Junior Michael Young has been a reliable top option for No. 24 Pittsburgh (13-1, 2-0). He's averaging 16.9 points and shooting 59 percent. He's also gone from being a 69-percent shooter at the foul line last year to ranking among the league's best at 86.9 percent. Pitt beat Georgia Tech on Wednesday and travels to Notre Dame on Saturday.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Scoring is up. The league ended last year with no team averaging more than 79.3 points, but entered Tuesday with six teams averaging at least 82 points. Individually, 18 players are averaging at least 15 points - led by North Carolina State's Anthony ''Cat'' Barber at 22.9 - compared to eight to end last season.

ON THE WOMEN'S SIDE: No. 3 Notre Dame enters 2016 in what has quickly become its usual perch atop the ACC standings, while the rest of the league has fallen off from lofty preseason rankings. The Fighting Irish earned coach Muffet McGraw her 800th career win Sunday at Pittsburgh, and 6-foot-3 sophomore Brianna Turner is rounding into form after missing six games with a shoulder injury. But the ACC has just three ranked teams and only Notre Dame in the top 10, down from six ranked teams and three top-10 squads in the preseason.


Compiled by AP Basketball Writer Aaron Beard in Raleigh, North Carolina.

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