Stakes high when Louisville faces No. 21 Virginia in ACC
A look at the upcoming week around the Atlantic Coast Conference:
GAME OF THE WEEKEND
No. 21 Virginia at Louisville. The Cavaliers (16-6, 12-4) snapped a three-game slide with a 62-51 victory against Miami on Monday night and are second in the league standings behind Florida State. The Cardinals (13-5, 8-4) had their game against Virginia Tech scheduled for Wednesday night canceled because of contact tracing within the Hokies program. With a victory, Louisville would earn a double bye for the ACC Tournament as the No. 3 seed. If the Cardinals lose, Georgia Tech, Clemson and North Carolina would all have the opportunity to leap-frog the Cardinals in the standings with victories.
The final game of the regular season is Saturday when North Carolina plays host to Duke. The Tar Heels (15-9, 9-6) have played significantly better since the calendar changed, winning 10 of 15 games in 2021, but are coming off a loss to Syracuse on Monday night. Duke (11-10, 9-8) has lost its last two — to Louisville and Georgia Tech — and will likely need to make some noise in the tournament to get a postseason berth.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Florida State leads the ACC in scoring (79.2) but does not have a player ranked among the top 20 in scoring. They are led by M.J. Walker (13.1) and RaiQuan Gray (12.2), and Gray and freshman guard Scottie Barnes are among the league leaders in several categories. Gray is tied for 11th in the league in rebounding (7.0), ninth in free throw percentage (.766) and 14th in steals (1.44). Barnes is fifth in assists (4.29) and seventh in steals (1.53).
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
Georgia Tech (14-8, 10-6) has won five straight and clinched a winning record in ACC play in consecutive years for the first time since 1989 and 1990. ... North Carolina State (13-9, 9-8) stretched its winning streak to five with an 80-69 victory against Notre Dame on Wednesday night. ... Clemson (15-6, 9-6) had its five-game winning streak snapped Wednesday night against Syracuse. It was the first time the Tigers have won five in a row in league play since 1990.
ON THE WOMEN’S SIDE
Wake Forest freshman Jewel Spear must like playing against North Carolina. The native of Colony, Texas, scored 29 points and tied the ACC women’s tournament record with seven 3-pointers in the Demon Deacons’ 82-71 quarterfinal victory Thursday. Earlier this season, Spear scored 22 points and hit six 3-pointers in a 77-74 overtime loss to the Tar Heels.
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