Hard to believe that the Atlantic Coast Conference season has just four play dates left. A total of 28 games remain before the conference tournament begins on March 7-11 in Greensboro, NC. As of this writing, there are nine teams in the ACC with .500 or better conference records. Three are still ranked in the AP Top 25 poll. Seven are still among the top 70 in the NCAA Monday Net Report, while six of them are in the top 50. Miami and Virginia are still battling for the top spot in the league and the tournament’s number-one overall seed which would guarantee their first appearance in the ACC Tournament would not take place until the quarterfinals. Here is some of how this week shapes up.
Virginia guard Kihel Clark is putting together quite a resume for those to chase in the ACC. He now has 72 league wins which include the league tournament. He passed Duke’s Shane Battier (71 wins, 1998-2001) for the most all-time in league play. He already holds the all-time record for minutes played in the conference. He, along with Notre Dame’s Dane Goodwin, have set the league mark for most games played at 153. That passes UNC Deon Thompson (2007-2010) who played in 152. Another member of the Irish, Nate Laszewski will also pass Thompson on Wednesday night at home when ND hosts North Carolina.
In Saturday’s win over the Irish, Clark also broke the Virginia all-time assist mark that was held by John Grotty at 683 from 1988-91. Clark now has 685 career assists at Virginia, which is also the all-time active leader in the Atlantic Coast Conference. He made career start number 133 on Saturday which passed London Perrantes for number one in games played at the school. For the Irish on Saturday, Nate Laszewski scored 18 points in a losing effort against Virginia (21-4, 13-3). It was the tenth time this season he led the team in scoring this year. It was the sixth time in the last eight games he has scored at least 16 points in a game. He is fifth in total rebounds all-time with 880.
Heading into Tuesday night’s home game with #13 Miami (22-5, 13-4) Virginia Tech’s(16-11, 6-10) graduate forward Grant Basile has scored 20+ points in six of his last eight games. He is averaging 23.6 points per game during this stretch. He is second to Syracuse Joseph Girard III in conference scoring. Girard is at 18.6, Basile is at 18.4. Basile is eighth in field goal percentage at 52% and is fifth in blocked shots with 37 in 27 games for a 1.37 average.
On Saturday, the Pittsburgh Panthers (19-8, 12-4) will be looking for win #20 overall when they host Syracuse. A big reason for the team’s success this year is Blake Hinson who has been putting up big numbers all season. He has posted 23 double-figure scoring games. He has 15 games with 15+ points and seven 20+ points games. He is the lone player in the league to average 15.5 points and six or more rebounds (6.2) a game. From behind the arc, Hinson has 65 or more 3-pointers (69). He is sixth in 3-point made FG averaging 2.56 a game. He is seventh in 3-point FG percentage at 37% (69-of-183).
Syracuse (16-11, 9-7) freshman guard Judah Mintz has been on a tear in his last seven games. He has scored at least 15 points over that stretch, which ties him for the third-longest streak by a Syracuse rookie over the last 25 years. Former Syracuse great Carmelo Anthony had two long streaks during his days wearing the orange uniforms. In 2003, Anthony had both a 13-game and 12-game streak.
The ACC has Co-Players of the Week. First, there is Louisville’s El Ellis who averaged 24.5 points, and 4.5 boards in games versus #7 Virginia and Clemson. He had a 21-point performance vs the Cavaliers, then a game-high 28 in a win over the Tigers. On Monday night at Duke, Ellis had 21 points and seven assists in a 79-62 loss at Cameron Indoor Stadium. He is second in most improved scoring at +9.3 from a year ago. North Carolina State’s Jarkel Joiner averaged 22 points six assists, 5.5 boards, and 1.5 steals against Syracuse and North Carolina. Versus the Orangemen, Joiner posted a triple-double of 15 points, 10 rebounds, and 11 assists. Against the Tar Heels, Joiner had a season-high 29-point effort with 20 of those points coming in the second half.
The Rookie of the Week is a familiar name. Kyle Fliipowski wins the award for the eighth time this season. He averaged 18 points, 8.5 rebounds, and three assists in wins over both the Fighting Irish and Orangemen. The eight weekly awards tie him with another Blue Devils player Jahlil Okafor for fifth most in league history. He is second in freshman scoring in the league at 15.1 a game. He is fifth in rebounds at 9.15 a game, fourth in defensive rebounds at 6.52, and sixth in offensive rebounds at 2.63. Filipowski finds himself on the late-season John R. Wooden Top 20 Watch List.
Next week we will look at the final week of the regular season in the ACC.
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