Alright, so Tuesday didn’t go so well. Virginia losing to Boston College straight up was something that simply shouldn’t have happened, especially when you consider that Derryck Thornton didn’t play, Nik Popovic is still absent, and Steffon Mitchell had the flu.
Louisville took care of Miami (Fl) for the second time this season with no real trouble, while Syracuse continues to be the Adam Dunn of the ACC. If Syracuse is Adam Dunn, Notre Dame must be JD Drew. Looks great in the on-deck circle, but simply lost at the plate, especially with two strikes. The Irish crapped one down their leg in the second half of the second half after having North Carolina State on the ropes for the entire game. The Irish had a 12 point cushion with under 15 minutes to go and couldn’t get it done.
Pitt showed some heart, erasing a nine point halftime deficit to get a W in Chapel Hill, while Georgia Tech gave a valiant effort against Duke in Atlanta before going through one of their patented 11 points in the final 10 minutes game destroying funks. It’s OK though, Duke is a good team. You can’t expect to beat good teams.
Florida State continues to look like the second best team in the league behind the Blue Devils, grinding out a 10 point win at Wake Forest. A big reason for the Seminole’s recent success has been MJ Walker, who is averaging 13 ppg over their current six game winning streak. A perimeter trio of Vassell, Forrest, and Walker will be hard to beat if they are clicking on all cylinders.
So what are we looking at this weekend? Plenty of goodness. The one thing that we should have all learned to love this season, is that when 80% of the league is sub-par, anything can happen. Here is how I am leaning for Saturday’s games and the one Sunday match-up.
Louisville @ Notre Dame-2:00PM ESPN
Kenpom: Louisville 68-64 Haslam: Louisville 69-59
It is difficult to get a read on either of these teams at the moment. Notre Dame is fumbling victories, Louisville looks like a team that only defeats bad teams lately and neither have inspired much confidence.
Here is what I see, I see Steven Enoch being a worthy opponent of the dominant force that is John Mooney. I also see a Fighting Irish team that simply does not have a player that can match-up with Jordan Nwora. I am going to assume this line is going to be Louisville (-4.5 to -5.5) when it’s released this afternoon, even on the big end, I like the Cardinals on the road at Purcell, a place that this Irish group has not protected in the past season and a half, losing 8 conference games at home.
North Carolina State @ Virginia Tech-2:00PM ACCNX (Regional Fox Affiliate)
Kenpom: VPI 72-71 Haslam: 71-70
Just as the master metricicians (that’s not a word) show, this game is foolishly even. The biggest item on the board is the Wolfpack defense. Specifically their three-point defense. North Carolina State currently ranks 203rd in the nation in defending the triple, allowing opponents to shoot 33.5% from deep. Virginia Tech is currently 43rd in the nation from behind the arc at 37% and when they shoot 33% or better from deep, they are 8-2 on the season. Gimme the Hokies at Cassell.
Syracuse @ Virginia-4:00PM ESPN
Kenpom: Virginia 60-53 Haslam: Virginia 58-53
I am going to be forced to watch at least thirty minutes of this game due to the schedule (although Markus Howard and Myles Powell also match-up at 4:00) until Clemson/UNC tips. This game is another rematch from opening night when Virginia held Syracuse to 0.58 points per possession and 38 points…AT HOME. Since then, neither team has done a whole lot to change the narrative, including Virginia who is fresh off that aforementioned loss to shorthanded Boston College. Syracuse actually shoots better from deep than in recent seasons and Virginia forces you to put em up. If the Hughes, Boeheim and Girard trio can make some triples, Syracuse is going to win this game. If we split the difference from our metric providers and call it Virginia (-6), I’m taking the Orange to cover all day.
Clemson @ North Carolina-4:00PM ACCNX (Regional Fox Affiliate)
Kenpom: UNC 70-64 Haslam: UNC 69-68
It’s finally going to happen. Clemson has NEVER won in Chapel Hill. The Tigers are 0-59 all-time and it’s time for those chickens to come home to roost. North Carolina simply does not have the horses given the injuries and performance of their graduate transfers. We are 15 games into the season, for the most part, we know who everyone is. The Tar Heels are 4-11 against the spread this season and 1-7 ATS at home. The wheels are about to come off of this bus. Gimme the Tigers, strrrrrrrrrrrraight up.
Georgia Tech at Boston College-6:00PM ACCN
Kenpom: GT 66-65 Haslam: GT 63-62
If Virginia and Syracuse is a game that will set college basketball back 10 years, consider this to be the South Sudan of of the ACC. Do we have any idea what to expect here? Boston College has beaten Virginia at home and Notre Dame on the road, but also lost by nearly 20 to Northwestern at home and Duke by damn near 40. Georgia Tech is a team that would flip tails 36 times in a row, only to flip heads when you finally place a bet.
The Yellow Jackets are clearly the more talented team, but are only 10-32 in true road games under Josh Pastner. Boston College at home under Jim Christian? 53-44 overall. Boston College is also 29th in the nation in defensive turnover percentage at 23.4%, while Georgia Tech ranks 330th in the nation, turning the ball over at a 23.2% rate. This will be an ugly, ugly…horrendous game. Give me Boston College to cover the (-1).
Wake Forest @ Duke-8:00PM ACCN
Kenpom: Duke 83-63 Haslam: 90-59
Pomeroy is typically within a point and a half of Vegas so let’s call it Duke (-19.5). Duke covers.
Pittsburgh @ Miami (Fl) (Sunday)-6:00PM ACCN
Kenpom: Miami 70-68 Haslam: Pitt 70-67
The story line up to this point is Trey McGowens on the road. Throughout his career he has never done well away from home…until Tuesday night. Trey scored 24 points in Chapel Hill this week and possibly put this ugly trend to rest. However, is it growth or simply an anomaly? I am not sure, but one thing I do know: Pitt is playing pretty well and Miami doesn’t play any sort of defense. Even in the loss to Wake Forest the Panthers still scored a point per possession. The trio of Johnson/McGowens/Champagnie is averaging a combined 49.4 points over their last three games and shooting 46.6% from the field, 45.9% from deep and 74.5% from the stripe. Pitt should win and cover.