ACC

ACC Basketball News & Notes: Old Friends Battle for Top Spot

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As we reach the final quarter pole heading for home, two blue bloods are battling for the top spot in the ACC standings. The North Carolina Tar Heels and the Duke Blue Devils are separated by a game in the loss column. These two teams have a game left to play which will take place on the final day of the regular season. On March 9 they will meet at Duke, with possibly a lot of the line, not only in the conference but also in the national picture as both teams try to gain a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. UNC (22-6, 14-3) has a leg up thanks to their 75-71 victory on Monday night vs Miami. Duke (21-6, 12-4) was home on Wednesday night to play Louisville. Don’t forget about Virginia (20-8, 9-7), who was two games back in the lost column when they took the court to face Boston College (15-12, 6-10) on the road last night. Let’s see what else is going on in the league.

The weekly rankings are out and here’s where the league stands. The Tar Heels are ranked #9 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll, and #8 in the USA Today Coaches poll. Duke is at #10 in both polls. The NCAA NET rankings have seven teams in the top 60, Those same six teams are also inside the top 50 with four of them in the top 25. The group of six are, North Carolina #9, Duke #10, Clemson #23, Wake Forest #25, Pittsburgh #47, Virginia #49, and Virginia Tech #56. The league owns 23 Quad 1 wins, and two NET teams in non-conference play. That is tied for the second most of any conference.

The ACC Player of the Week is Hunter Sallis of Wake Forest (18-10, 10-7). He led his team to a couple of wins last week over Pittsburgh and #9 Duke. He averaged 23 points a game, five rebounds, and three assists. He shot 76.2 % from the field (16-of-21) and 88.9% from 3-point land (8-of-9). He leads the league in 3-point shooting at 48.5% and for the entire season, he is shooting 43.5%. Against the Blue Devils, Sallis went for 29 points on 11-of-13 shooting from the field. He was 5-of-6 from 3-point range. In the Tuesday night loss to the Fighting Irish, Sallis scored seven points on 2-of-11 from the field, and 1-of-5 from deep.

The ACC Rookie of the Week is Markus Burton of Notre Dame. He averaged 22 points, four boards, 5.5 assists, and two steals in road games vs Louisville and Syracuse. Against Syracuse, he scored 28 points, 20 in the second half, and passed out eight assists. In Tuesday night’s win at home over Wake Forest, Burton had 31 points on 9-of-15 from the field, 2-of-6 from three, and was a perfect 11-for-11 at the foul line. Burton could become the first player in school history to average 16 points, four assists, and two steals in a single season. The Irish are 11-17 overall and 6-11 in the league.

Duke’s big man Kyle Filpowski reached the 1,000-point club on Saturday in the loss at Wake Forest. He became the 69th Blue Devil to reach that milestone all time. He is the 13th player and the eighth in the last 50 years to score 1,000 points in just two years. Unfortunately, he was also involved in an after-game courtstorming incident that resulted in an injured ankle. His status for Saturday’s home game vs Virginia is unknown.

Georgia Tech (12-16, 5-12) has been doing a better job of clearing the glass in recent games. In their last three games, they have outrebounded their opponents by more than 10 a game. Against Miami, they won the battle by a 41-34 count. The Clemson game was a lot closer at 34-31, then vs Syracuse the margin was 49-26. On Saturday, the Yellow Jackets will try to add to the total when they take on Florida State (15-13, 9-8) at home.

Speaking of those Seminoles, they have been on a tear when it comes to stealing the rock. They ranked second in the league in steals with 252, 9.3 a game. Last Saturday vs Clemson they recorded 11 vs the Tigers. It’s the ninth time in the past 13 games they have recorded 10 or more steals in a game. In their win over NC State on Tuesday night, the Seminoles had seven vs the Wolfpack (17-11, 9-8).

Clemson’s P.J. Hall is one of five players in the country to average 18.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, and 1.5 assists a game. The other four are Zach Edey of Purdue, Drew Pember of UNCA, DeRon Holmes of Dayton, and Sy Chatman of Buffalo. In the Tigers win over Pittsburgh, Hall went for a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds. He also had two blocked shots and two assists. The Tigers are now 20-8, 10-7 in the ACC.

Next week we’ll be back with more from the ACC.

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