Syracuse's trip to No. 8 Florida State tops ACC's week ahead
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A look at the upcoming week around the Atlantic Coast Conference:
GAME OF THE WEEKEND
Syracuse at No. 8 Florida State. The Seminoles (20-4, 10-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) are still firmly in the top tier of the league standings, though a tough loss at seventh-ranked Duke dropped them to third. That loss came despite a strong individual performance from Trent Forrest (18 points, nine rebounds, eight steals) on a night when the Seminoles shot just 38% and made 3 of 18 3-pointers. Now they’re hosting the Orange (14-10, 7-6) from the league’s jumbled middle. Syracuse is coming off a home loss to North Carolina State and a win at FSU on Saturday could help improve its NCAA Tournament resume.
Seventh-ranked Duke (21-3, 11-2) follows Saturday's game against Notre Dame with a Wednesday trip to North Carolina State in Raleigh, where the Blue Devils have had troubles in recent years. They have lost five of the past seven games in PNC Arena, four coming to the Wolfpack and one being an NCAA Tournament upset to Mercer in 2014. Like Syracuse, N.C. State could use a marquee win to help its NCAA resume.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Pittsburgh’s Justin Champagnie is averaging 16.3 points and 8.7 rebounds over the past seven games. That includes a season-high 30 points in Saturday’s win against Georgia Tech. The 6-foot-6 freshman leads the Panthers (15-10, 6-8) against Virginia Tech on Saturday.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
With Duke’s win at North Carolina last weekend, road teams are now 9-2 in league games that go to overtime. … The ACC is KenPom’s fifth-ranked league as of Wednesday’s games, its lowest standing since expanding to 14 teams in 2013-14 and 15 teams the following season. … Virginia plays slower than any team in the country. The Cavaliers rank last in the country in KenPom’s adjusted tempo metric, averaging 59.2 possessions per 40 minutes entering Saturday's trip to North Carolina. No other team averages fewer than 60. … Speaking of the Tar Heels, UNC is 0-4 since star freshman point guard Cole Anthony's return after being sidelined nearly seven weeks following knee surgery. The Tar Heels haven't won a game with him in the lineup since beating now-No. 17 Oregon in the Battle 4 Atlantis on Nov. 29. ... Virginia Tech's five-game skid is the longest active streak in the league.
ON THE WOMEN’S SIDE
Ninth-ranked Louisville’s Thursday's win at No. 4 North Carolina State means the Cardinals are now positioned to claim the top seed in the ACC Tournament, barring any upsets. The Cardinals (22-3, 11-2) now own the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Wolfpack (22-2, 11-2) as the teams are tied atop the league entering the final five games. N.C State is chasing its first ACC regular-season title since the 1989-90 season. Louisville hosts Notre Dame and N.C. State hosts Georgia Tech on Sunday.
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