There are three weeks left before the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament takes place in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. Teams are starting their final push for the best possible spot going into that event. As the week gets going, Duke and Notre Dame are tied for the top spot in the league with 11-3 records. They have a one-game lead on both Miami and North Carolina who sit at 10-4 in league play. There are eight teams that have at least .500 records as the final stretch begins. For the teams at the bottom of the league, every game is critical. Every win or loss means so much at this time of the season. Here is some of what else is happening in the ACC.
The hottest team right now is the Virginia Tech Hokies (8-7) as they have won six in a row to get a game over .500 in the league. In last Saturday’s 71-59 win over Syracuse, graduate forward Justyn Mutts had himself quite a game, His performance against the Orange resulted in the program’s second triple-double in school history. Mutts ended his night with 12 points, 14 rebounds, and 11 assists. On Monday night, the Hokies defense did the job at home vs Virginia. In the 62-53 win, the Cavs were held without a 3-point FG for the night (0-9) and shot just 40% for the game (22-of-55). Keve Aluma had a 24 point night for the Hokies, one of only two players in double figures.
Florida State (6-8) is in the midst of a six-game losing streak, one of three teams at the moment that are looking to end such a slide. The Seminoles do have a couple of defensive stats to be proud of. First, the Seminoles are first in the league in steals averaging 9.3 per contest. FSU is third in blocked shots with 4.3 a night. Florida State is the only team in the league that is ranked in the top-5 in both steals and blocked shots. If there is bad news to all of this, it’s that the Seminoles are dead last in 3-point FG percentage defense at .375 (217-of-578).
In Earl Grant’s first season as the head man of Boston College (4-9) one player he has been able to count on is sophomore guard DeMarr Langford. Over the Eagles’ last four games, Langford has scored in double-figures including a 16-point effort in a loss to Duke on Saturday. During this stretch, DeMarr has averaged 14.5 points per game. He is sixth in minutes played this year at 35 minutes a game.
In that game at Conte Forum, Duke sophomore center Mark Williams had a streak of 14 consecutive field goals made snapped when he missed his first shot of the second half vs the Eagles. During a 10-game span, Williams has not missed many shots from the floor. He is 54-of-68 79% from the field, and over his last five games, 23-of-27 for 85%. Williams is also first in blocked shots with 76 in 25 games for an average of three per game.
The Miami Hurricanes have been really tough against schools in the state of North Carolina. Miami is undefeated at 4-0 vs those programs. Those wins included two road victories against teams that were ranked in the top-25. It is the first time in program history the Canes have finished undefeated vs schools in that state.
The Blue Devils at number 9 in the latest AP Top-25 poll could mean something at the end of the season. The Atlantic Coast Conference has made a habit of having teams ranked in the Top-10 when the final poll is released. In fact, the conference has had at least one team in the Top-10 of that final poll in 60 of the last 61 seasons.
The ACC Player of the Week is Virginia senior forward Jayden Gardner. In wins over then #7 Duke and Georgia Tech, Gardner averaged 21.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, two assists, and 1.5 blocks. He is off to a great start if he wants to make it two weeks in a row. On Monday night, Gardner had a double-double vs Virginia Tech in the loss on the road going for 17 points and 14 rebounds, shooting 7-of-17 from the field.
The ACC Rookie of the Week is Duke forward Trevor Keels. He averaged 16.7 points, and 6.3 boards last week for the Blue Devils. He shot 54.8% from the field in three games from the field and was 45% from 3-point range. For Keels, this is the second weekly award for him, and he is the third Blue Devil freshman to win the award multiple times this year.
That is it for this week. We will be back next week with more from the ACC.
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