They have quietly done their thing all season long. Who are we speaking of? The Pittsburgh Panthers now find themselves on top of the ACC as we begin the final week of regular season games. The Panthers also have found their way into the AP Top 25 poll for the first time all season. Pittsburgh (21-8, 14-4) controls their own fate with two games left to play They head to Notre Dame on Wednesday night with a half-game over Miami (23-6, 14-5). These two teams will face each other on Saturday in Coral Gables for what could be a winner take all game.
As we begin the final week, four teams have a mathematical chance of at least gaining a share of the league’s regular season title. Virginia, Clemson Pitt, and Miami are all in the chase. If Pittsburgh were to win the championship outright, it would be their first ACC regular season title. The Hurricanes are looking for a chance at their second regular season title and their first since 2013. Three teams are ranked in this week’s AP Poll. Virginia is at #13, Miami at #16, and Pitt at #25. It should be a great last week of ACC hoops.
In Pittsburgh’s 99-82 win over Syracuse last Saturday, the Panthers were red-hot from 3-point land. They made 16 three-point shots in the game to set the single-season record with 274 threes. It was the third time this season that Pittsburgh has made at least 16 three-point shots in a game. That number ties for the third-most in program history. On the defensive side of things, the Panthers are third in the league in FG percentage defense at .415. They are third in rebounding margin at +3.31, and fourth in blocked shots with an average of 4.34 a game (126 in 29G). Jamarius Burton is fourth on the active career assists list with 451.
Virginia (21-6, 13-5) ranks first in the league and country in assists/turnover ratio at 1.82, second in turnovers a game at 8.7, 10th in scoring defense at 60.6, 19th in fouls per game at 14.1, 20th in turnovers margin at 3.8, and 25th in assists per game at 15.8. Defense has always been a staple of the Virginia game and these numbers back that up. But you still need to put the ball through the hoop. Jayden Garner, who is the active leader in points with 2,312, should be able to help solve that problem. The Cavaliers do not have an individual in the top 20 scoring in the league. As a team, they are 13th in the league averaging 68 points a game. In tournament play, you have to be able to score as well as defend. Virginia needs to find some offense to be a factor in March.
North Carolina State (22-8, 12-7) faced Duke on Tuesday night. The 22 wins are the most regular season wins since the 1987-88 season. That year they went to the conference tournament at 23-6. Their 12 league wins are tied for the most in a single season in program history. Jarkel Joiner is third on the active career points list with 1,980 points. He is fifth in the conference scoring race averaging 17 a game. In third place is Terquavion Smith at 17.6 a game. D.J. Burns Jr. is third in FG percentage at 57% (174-of-302). State has the second-best offense in the league at 78.7 points a game. They are #1 in scoring margin at +8.47, third in rebounding offense at 37.10 and second in blocked shots with an average of 4.77 (143 in 30G).
Wake Forest (18-11, 10-8) finished up their home schedule Tuesday night vs Boston College (14-15, 8-10). The Demon Deacons are very difficult to beat at Joel Coliseum. Their record heading into the game with the Eagles was 31-4 since the start of the 2021-22 year. They are one of nine teams with 31+ wins at home in that span. Tyree Appleby is the league’s active leader in steals with 214 and is second on the active points list with 2,091. He is second in assists with 685. Wake was 7-2 at home this year as they entered their game with BC.
It has been a rough year for Florida State (9-21, 7-12). On Saturday at Miami, they put it all together in the second half. Down 50-25 late in the first half to the Hurricanes, the Seminoles rolled to win 85-84. They did it by outscoring Miami by a 54-30 count in the second twenty minutes. They shot 67.7% in the second half ( 21-of-31). and shot 83% from the free throw line (12-of-14). It only lasted one game as on Monday night, the Seminoles lost at home to North Carolina 77-66. They could only shoot 41.7% from the field (25-of-60) and just 20% from 3-point land (3-of-15).
The ACC Player of the Week is Clemson’s, Hunter Tyson. He averaged 20.5 points, 10.5 boards, and 1.5 assists in helping the Tigers to wins over both Syracuse and North Carolina State. In both contests, he recorded double-doubles, shot 60.9% from the field (14-of-23), and 8-of-16 (50%) from the free throw line. This is the second time he has won the weekly award. Tyson is first in defensive rebounding at 8.10 a game (235 in 29G).
The ACC Rookie of the Week is Syracuse’s guard Judah Mintz. This is the fifth weekly award of the season. He averaged 19.5 points, three rebounds, and 3.5 assists. In games on the road at Clemson and Pittsburgh, he was 14-of-24 from the field (58.3%) and 5-of-6 from 3-point land (83.3%). He is the freshman scoring leader in the league at 16 points a game. He is first in steals with 1.86 (54 in 29G).
It should be a wild week. Next week we look ahead to the conference tournament.
- ACCSeptember 21, 2023ACC Football News & Notes: The League is Full of 3-0 Teams
- America East ConferenceSeptember 19, 2023America East Basketball News: A Look at UMBC
- ACCSeptember 15, 2023Boston College Begins ACC Play at Home vs #3 Florida State
- ACCSeptember 14, 2023ACC Football News & Notes: Florida State in the Top 5