Duke-Louisville highlights big weekend in the ACC
A look at things to watch this week in the Atlantic Coast Conference:
GAME OF THE WEEKEND: No. 20 Duke at No. 18 Louisville. It’s a matchup of surging teams who are one game behind the league’s co-leaders. It marks the last in a run of four straight games against Top 25 opponents for the Blue Devils (20-6, 9-4) — who won the first three by a combined nine points, including one over the Cardinals (20-6, 9-4) last Monday, but might be further shorthanded with Matt Jones spraining an ankle in the win over No. 5 North Carolina. Duke essentially played just five players in the second half. “Our guys have been able to fight through tired,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said.
LOOKING AHEAD: No. 11 Miami (21-4, 10-3) faces a challenging two-day turnaround. The Hurricanes visit North Carolina (21-5, 10-3) on Saturday in a matchup of teams tied for first, then play host to No. 7 Virginia (21-5, 10-4) on Monday night. It gets no easier after that — they play host to Louisville, then visit No. 19 Notre Dame. They could emerge from that brutal run in great shape to earn the No. 1 seed in the ACC Tournament for the second time in four years. Guard Davon Reed says the Hurricanes “have got to take care of business Saturday.”
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: ACC games so far tend to be won by the home teams, and the vast majority have not been close. Through Wednesday’s games, home teams have won roughly two-thirds of the time in ACC play. Of the 99 conference games played so far, only 26 have been decided by four or fewer points or have gone to overtime and only four have needed OT.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Only one ACC player has scored in double figures in every game this season — Syracuse’s Michael Gbinije, who led the Orange to five straight wins before a loss at Louisville. The transfer from Duke is the only player in the conference who ranks in the top six in scoring (17.4 points), assists (4.4) and steals (2.3).
ON THE WOMEN’S SIDE: No. 23 Syracuse is back in the national polls. The Orange also are 18th in the coaches’ poll — matching the highest ranking in school history — after winning six in a row. They’re one of five ACC teams in the women’s poll, led by No. 2 Notre Dame, No. 10 Florida State and No. 11 Louisville.
Compiled by AP Sports Writer Joedy McCreary in Raleigh, North Carolina.