No. 9 Louisville visits No. 3 Virginia to top ACC schedule
A look at things to watch this week in the Atlantic Coast Conference:
GAME OF THE WEEKEND: No. 9 Louisville at No. 3 Virginia. The only thing keeping Cavaliers (20-1, 8-1) from an undefeated record is a 5-minute collapse against Duke. Louisville (19-3, 7-2) makes its first trip to Charlottesville as an ACC member. This shapes up as a defensive showcase: Virginia leads the nation in scoring defense (50.8 ppg allowed) while the Cardinals are tops in the ACC in blocked shots, steals and turnover margin. Louisville has won four straight since losing to Duke, while Virginia is closing a run of three straight league games against Hall of Fame coaches.
LOOKING AHEAD: Brad Brownell and Clemson have been one of the league's pleasant surprises. The Tigers (14-8, 6-4) were picked in the preseason to finish 11th, but have won four straight to move into position for at least a first-round bye in the tournament. ''Some of this is just belief,'' Brownell said. ''You have to believe in yourself and your teammates.'' They face a big week with a trip to Miami on Sunday and a visit from No. 10 Notre Dame on Tuesday.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Florida State's Xavier Rathan-Mayes has become the Seminoles' go-to scorer since the team lost Aaron Thomas. The 6-foot-4 redshirt freshman is averaging a team-best 16.1 points and 45 percent in league games, including 35 points in a loss at North Carolina two weeks ago. FSU travels to Virginia Tech on Saturday, then hosts Mike Krzyzewski's fourth-ranked Duke team on Monday.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Tight games have become the norm in the ACC. Of the 72 conference games played through Wednesday night, 28 either have been decided by four or fewer points or have gone to overtime and 22 have been decided on the last possession. Wake Forest has been involved in four of those - all in the past 3 1/2 weeks.
ON THE WOMEN'S SIDE: Wake Forest's Dearica Hamby might be the league's best player on a struggling team. Hamby, who led the ACC in both scoring and rebounding last season, is third in the league in both categories this year (20.2 ppg, 10.3 rpg). She entered Thursday night's game against No. 15 Duke with 13 double-doubles this season and 38 for her career. Despite her efforts, Wake Forest (10-13, 1-8) is fighting to stay out of the cellar.
Compiled by AP Sports Writers Joedy McCreary and Aaron Beard in Raleigh, North Carolina.