Hard to believe, but the Atlantic Coast Conference got the second half of the season underway on Monday night. Miami (8-2) sits on top of the league with both Duke and Notre Dame (each at 7-2) only percentage points behind the Hurricanes. With six weeks left until the conference tournament, there is still plenty of hoops to be played. Not to mention lots of movement in the standings. It should be quite a finish so here’s what else is going on in the ACC.
There are several different ways to judge what a player means to a team. KenPom happens to be one service that is trusted by a wide range of college basketball programs. One of the things they measure is player efficiency. Miami forward Sam Waardenburg is one of the most efficient players in the ACC. He is third-best in offensive rating (126.5), and second in both efficient field goal percentage (65.8) and in shooting percentage (66.7). Yet, if you look at the weekly stats put out by the league, the one name that is hard to find is Sam Waardenburg. Just goes to show you do not need to be in the Top-20 of any stat line to be a valuable player.
Syracuse senior guard Buddy “buckets” Boeheim dropped 30 points on Wake Forest last Saturday. In doing so, he made a move up the ladder on the all-time Orangemen scoring list. His total now stands at 1560 which passes his current assistant coach Adrian Autry and ties him with Roosevelt Bouie and Todd Burgan for 18th on the all-time list. As the second half begins. Boeheim is second in the conference in scoring at 19 a game. He is also second in free throw percentage at 89% (74-of 83). Boeheim rarely sees the bench during games, which is why he is #1 in minutes played averaging 38 minutes a game.
North Carolina (7-3) has not been playing many close games of late. In fact, during a recent six-game stretch, the Tar Heels have been in games decided by ten points or more. They have won three of those games. This is the first time this has happened since a similar streak took place during the 2017-18 season. UNC is the best free-throw shooting team in the league at 76%, the best rebounding offense at 40.90 (859 in 21G), and rebounding margin at +8.95.
In a four-point loss on the road at Notre Dame, the Virginia Cavaliers (7-5) may have found some much-needed offense. Senior forward Jayden Gardner had a 14 point effort in the loss at ND. He ranks sixth in the league in FG percentage at 53%, 10th in FT percentage at 78%, 13th in rebounding at seven a game, and is 20th in scoring at 14 a ballgame. This past Tuesday night at home against Boston College, Garder went for 17 points and five rebounds in a 67-55 Virginia win.
The Louisville Cardinal (5-6) has been getting plenty of production from its bench this season. They are averaging 28 points a game from their reserves. The bench has contributed 30 or more points on ten different occasions this season. Louisville is 20th in the country in bench minutes at 41%. However, they have no one in the top-15 in minutes played in the ACC.
The Player of the Week and the Rookie of the Week are no strangers to this award. The player is Buddy Boeheim of Syracuse He averaged 27 points, four rebounds, four assists, and two steals last week. In both games versus Wake Forest and Pittsburgh, Boeheim averaged 38.5 minutes. Against the Panthers, Boeheim scored 25 points in 40 minutes. In the Wake Forest game, Boeheim had a 30 point game on 12-for-21 shooting, including 6-of-11 from 3-point range. He also had seven assists, a career-high, with five boards and three steals.
Paolo Banchero is the Rookie of the Week for the sixth time this season. He averaged a double-double of 15 points, 11 boards, four assists in wins over Clemson and Louisville. Banchero had 19 against the Tigers, including back-to-back baskets in the last 90 seconds to seal the win for the Blue Devils. He had 14 of those points in the second half. Against the Cardinals, Paulo had 11 points and a career-high 15 rebounds to go along with three assists.
Next week we will be back with more from the ACC.