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ACC Roundup - Joe Girard Goes Back To Syracuse & Can Miami Pull An Upset?

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NCAA Basketball: Clemson at North Carolina
Feb 6, 2024; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA; Clemson Tigers center PJ Hall (24) and North Carolina Tar Heels guard RJ Davis (4) react in the second half at Dean E. Smith Center. | Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Plus if things go well, Virginia is still on track to tie for first place

In Saturday’s ACC Action, UNC visits Miami, NC State heads over to Reynolda to play the Demon Deacons, Notre Dame hosts Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech goes to Louisville and Virginia jets down to Tally to take on Florida State.

Clemson is on the uptick, wouldn’t you say? They came within an eyelash of beating Duke in Cameron and then nearly beat the hottest team in the ACC in Virginia.

Clemson is two points away from being on a 5-0 streak and the hottest team in the conference themselves. And if they had beaten Duke, Virginia and UNC in a four-game run (with a win over Louisville as the other game)...wow.

So we’ll take the Tigers here. They seem locked in. But the wild card is Joe Girard’s return to Syracuse. That’s going to be interesting. Will he be booed?

UNC had a bad game before Duke and a bad game after Duke. Amazingly, they had a bad practice the day before the loss to Clemson and after that, some guys were late to the shootaround the day of the Clemson game.

It’s hard to imagine that happening when Dean Smith ran things, or Roy Williams for that matter.

Miami is not in a good spot, having lost badly to Virginia. They lost so badly in fact 60-38 - that Jim Larranaga only took one question at his post-game presser and left in a bit of a huff.

And in the last 10 games, Miami is just 4-6 and has fallen to 15-8 and just 6-6 in the ACC. That’s quite a comedown for a team that was pre-season #7.

Still, a win over UNC would help overcome a lot of that. We’re not saying they’re going to win, but you can be pretty sure that Miami is going to come out and play hard, not least of all because the Virginia game was basically a disaster.

On the other hand, we’re quite sure that Hubert Davis has made his points about intensity and being on time and so forth. And with two out of three games being stinkers, he’s probably put his team through heck (it is Davis we’re talking about, who famously does not curse).

So that one should be fun.

NC State and Wake Forest should be a fun one too. That’s an ancient rivalry and both teams are pretty good, although they both have shown significant weakness at times. But Wake Forest has really heated up lately with back-to-back 29 point wins and State is not on that level right now. The Pack lost three straight and then two in row. But those two were over struggling Miami and an erratic Georgia Tech. The last game was a loss to Pitt and that was a game they could have certainly won. We’d have to go with Wake Forest in this one.

Having seen Notre Dame up close and personal this week, it’s obvious that they have a lot of work to do, mostly on offense. The talent is just not that great. However, it’s conceivably possible to win a game 1-0 and it’s possible that the Irish could cold-cock the Hokies. Not likely, but it is possible. We’d like to see what Micah Shrewsberry could do if he had a more talented team. Notre Dame is going to be dangerous soon enough.

Georgia Tech and Louisville...Hmmmm....for all the bad pub, the Cardinals are absolutely improved. They almost beat Clemson and should have beaten Syracuse.

But Georgia Tech, as we’ve seen, is capable of playing with anyone in the conference. After beating UNC though the Jackets lost to NC State, narrowly, and then were crushed by Wake Forest.

So who shows up at Louisville? Good question. If you’re Damon Stoudamire, you hope that your team is pissed after the way Wake Forest just decimated them. But Kenny Payne is probably not happy about how his lot lost at Syracuse either. Tough call but we’ll take the Yellow Jackets here.

As for Virginia and Florida State...Tony Bennett appears to have taught his team well and if Miami beats UNC, Virginia will have a share of first place.

That assumes they beat Florida State, which we think they will, partly because FSU is only in 10th place in the ACC in field goal percentage. And if you’ve watched UVA even minimally during the Bennett era, you know that they make it very hard to get a high percentage shot.

So what do teams have to do?

Fire up threes, of course.

Unfortunately, Florida State is really bad from there too, just 12th in the ACC. Toss in an often impatient offense and Leonard Hamilton’s career-long struggles to win close games against good teams and we’d have to go with Virginia here.

In a couple of other notes, the ACC announced the tournament will be in North Carolina from 2025-2029. It’ll be in Charlotte in ‘25, ‘26 and ‘28 and in Greensboro in ‘27 and ‘29. It’s still the best place to hold it and it should be in the Coliseum as often as possible.

And in another story, you’ll remember that Steve Forbes’ wife Johnetta suffered a series of strokes in August that left her in great peril.

It was devastating for her and for Coach Forbes and of course their children. We’re happy to relay this story by Seth Davis that details an impressive recovery by Mrs. Forbes. If this story doesn’t inspire you and make your day brighter, we don’t know what to say. It’s probably the best news we’ve heard all basketball season. All best wishes to the Forbes and may she keep improving.

Saturday’s ACC Action

  • Clemson @ Syracuse || 12:00 || ESPN2
  • BC @ Duke || 2:00 || ESPN
  • UNC @ Miami || 4:00 || ESPN
  • NC State @ Wake Forest || 4:00 || ACCN
  • Virginia Tech @ Notre Dame || 6:00 || CW
  • Georgia Tech @ Louisville || 6:30 || ACCN
  • Virginia @ Florida State || 8:00 || CW

ACC Standings

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