The halfway point of the ACC season has arrived. From here on in, it’s all about making the conference tournament and what seeded you ended up with. Byes become a very special word in this league with wins being the only way to use that word. The higher you are in the standings, the more that word becomes your friend. And everyone wants that word to be there best buddy. Here is what else is going on in the league.
The Virginia Tech Hokies have been a very good three-point shooting team for some time now. In fact, they have knocked down at least one in 554 straight games since the three-point shot was added to college basketball before the 1986-87 season began. Virginia Tech has only played three games in which they have not made one. The last time they played a game and did not make a three was on February 1, 2003, at Providence. In their game this past Tuesday night at Miami, a ten-point loss 71-61 Virginia Tech, they were 8-of-22 from behind the arc.
Boston College freshman guard Jay Heath, is making a serious statement for the ACC post-season all-freshman team. He is tied for third in scoring at 12.2 a game, and in three-point makes with 34, fifth in three-point % at .374. He is fourth in assists with 43, and second in steals with 30. Back on January 19 in a loss to Wake Forest, Heath went for 14-points giving him 200 points in his first 17 games for BC. Since 1990, only eight other Eagles freshman have reached the 200-point mark through their first 17 games. The last BC freshman to do it was Winston Tabbs who reached the mark in 15 games a season ago.
With three teams ranked in the Top-10 of the latest AP poll, the Atlantic Coast Conference is the only league that can make that claim. Florida State is at #5, Louisville at #6, and Duke at #9 are the three teams. For all three teams, this will be a difficult week ahead. They will play a combined five of their six games on the road. The Seminoles already lost on Tuesday night at Virginia 61-56. Home teams had a good night this past Tuesday as all four games played were won by the home team. Since January 21, home teams are 15-3 in league play. To show just how tight this league has been so far, 42 of the 71 conference games have been decided by single digits (59.2%), including 27 by five points or less (38%).
Road teams are under .500 at this moment with a record of 33-37 (47.1%). The best winning percentage for a road team in a full ACC schedule is 47.3% (26-29) set back in 1955 during the second season of Atlantic Coast Conference men’s basketball.
Georgia Tech’s Jose Alvarado had quite a game for himself last Saturday vs North Carolina State. In that game, Alvarado had nine steals, the most by a player since Florida State Chris Singleton had ten against UNC Greensboro on Nov.14, 2010. That performance helped Alvarado to earn ACC Player Of The Week honors. In two games last week, Jose averaged 19.5 points, nine rebounds, and five assists. He posted his first career double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds vs Louisville. On Saturday, to go along with the nine steals, Alvarado also had 26 points and eight boards.
The Rookie of the Week is Pittsburgh’s Justin Champagne. In two games last week for the Panthers, he averaged 15.5 points and 9.5 rebounds. He shot 65% from the floor at 13-for-20 and put up a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds vs Boston College going 8-for-14 from the field. Against Syracuse, Justin went for 14 points and nine boards despite watching most of the first half on the bench after picking up two quick fouls only 2:07 into the game. He went 5-of-6 from the floor.
Wake Forest leads the conference in free throw attempts at 23.9 per game and is second in free throw percentage at 74.5%. The Demons Deacons free throw rate of 42.4% (FTA/FGA) ranks eighth in the nation and is the highest for a Wake Forest team since 2014-15 (50.1).
Next week, more from the ACC as the second half of the season gets underway.