ACC Week: Devils-Heels, Orange-Panthers in doubleheader - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, Florida-

ACC Week: Top teams, rivals battle in Duke-UNC, Cuse-Pitt matchups

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J.P. Tokoto (right) and the North Carolina Tar Heels host eighth-ranked Duke on Wednesday. (Source: UNC Athletics) J.P. Tokoto (right) and the North Carolina Tar Heels host eighth-ranked Duke on Wednesday. (Source: UNC Athletics)

(RNN) - The matchup between two of college basketball's biggest rivals may not even be the game of the night Wednesday.

The Syracuse-Pitt and Duke-North Carolina doubleheader is keeping ACC officials and fans alike counting the minutes until tipoff. The nationally televised showcase features four of the top five teams in conference standings as of Monday.

The early block offers defense devotees a battle of strong minds on the sideline and strong wills on the hardwood. For the aficionados of offense, the nightcap breaks out the track shoes with two fast-paced teams that love to fill up the basket.

Monday: Maryland (14-10, 6-5) at No. 17 Virginia (19-5, 10-1), 9 p.m. ET

The Terrapins got a career-best game Saturday from point guard Seth Allen in the 83-71 win over Florida State. The speedy 6'1" sophomore missed nearly the first two months of the season, but he is hitting his stride at the right time. His low turnover rate (1.3 per game) is also a vast improvement over the team's other candidates for primary ball-handler.

Coach Mark Turgeon holds tight to the philosophy of fresh legs, with nine players logging 11 more minutes per game on average. Maryland will need that depth for its tough closing stretch that also includes at Duke, vs Syracuse and at Clemson before closing at home with Virginia again.

At 10-1 in the ACC, the Cavaliers are off to their best start since Ralph Sampson (1981-82 team went 12-1), including a 64-45 takedown of Georgia Tech on Saturday. Coach Tony Bennett's pack line defense is second in the country in fewest points allowed - anchored in the low post by 6'8" senior Akil Mitchell, a phenomenal athlete with a non-stop motor.

Malcolm Brogdon is the go-to guy for UVA. His emergence gives the team someone who can create shots for himself (15.3 points in ACC play) and others (4.3 assists last seven games). And preseason All-ACC first-teamer Joe Harris is a constant threat from behind the 3-point line.

Also Monday:

Miami (11-12, 2-8) at Florida State (14-9, 5-6), 7 p.m.

Tuesday:

Wake Forest (14-9, 4-6) at NC State (15-8, 5-5), 7 p.m.

Clemson (15-7, 6-4) at Notre Dame (12-12, 3-8), 7 p.m.

Wednesday: No. 1 Syracuse (23-0, 10-0) at No. 25 Pittsburgh (20-4, 8-3), 7 p.m.

The first game between the two teams was a hard-nosed effort that went down to the final seconds to determine a winner. It would not be surprising to see a similar outcome for Part Two.

Panthers coach Jamie Dixon is one of the most successful adversaries of the Orange - owning a 10-5 record against them in his 11 years at the helm.

Leading scorer Lamar Patterson played last game with an injured thumb, and it affected his shooting (1-for-9, five points) in the 62-57 win Saturday over Virginia Tech. His focus could switch to driving the lane and drawing fouls until the injury improves. The team also looks to big men Talib Zanna and Michael Young to get involved in the scoring on set plays and by grabbing offensive rebounds.

Syracuse is developing a habit of letting teams stay close until late in the second half. However, C.J. Fair and Tyler Ennis show no signs of remorse for opponents who see their chances of a win slipping away, as they coolly find ways to get to the rim and score.

The Orange's one weakness is their depth. They were already thin before Baye Moussa Keita left with a sprained knee early in Sunday's 57-44 win over Clemson, and his status is uncertain for the upcoming game. If Fair, Jerami Grant or Rakeem Christmas get into foul trouble, the inexperienced Tyler Roberson could see major minutes.

Wednesday: No. 8 Duke (19-5, 8-3) at North Carolina (16-7, 6-4), 9 p.m.

The Tobacco Road rivals both have enjoyed recent success - the Blue Devils enter as winners of seven of the last eight, and the Tar Heels hold victories in their last five.

UNC's frenetic pace and their endless supply of bigs have them ninth in the country in rebounds, with more than 41 per game. James Michael McAdoo has added a few wrinkles to his offensive game, working on occasion with his back to the basket and spotting up for 15-footers in addition to his power dribble-drive moves.

Marcus Paige scored 15 or more in his last five games, including 16 in the 73-62 win Saturday at Notre Dame. He is the Heels' best option from long range, and he also can break the defense down in half court sets or in transition. J.P. Tokoto is another threat that can start or finish a fast break.

Jabari Parker's January struggles seem like a distant memory. After a few poor shooting performances in the first half of the month, the Duke freshman began challenging defenses off the dribble, with impressive results. He finished the 89-68 win Saturday at Boston College with career bests in points (29) and rebounds (16).

Sophomore Rasheed Sulaimon went from a guy getting little or no time on the court to hitting clutch shots in the final seconds of games. He looks confident playing point guard when Quinn Cook gets a rest, and is not hesitating when a shot opportunity arises.

Also Wednesday:

Boston College (6-17, 2-8) at Georgia Tech (12-12, 3-8), 7 p.m.

Copyright 2014 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

  • Who is the ACC Player of the Year?

  • Thank you for participating in our poll. Here are the results so far:

    K.J. McDaniels, Clemson
    8%
    11 votes
    Rodney Hood, Duke
    6%
    10 votes
    Jabari Parker, Duke
    22%
    35 votes
    Dez Wells, Maryland
    0%
    0 votes
    Marcus Paige, North Carolina
    22%
    35 votes
    T.J. Warren, NC State
    27%
    42 votes
    Lamar Patterson, Pittsburgh
    1%
    2 votes
    C.J. Fair, Syracuse
    6%
    9 votes
    Tyler Ennis, Syracuse
    3%
    5 votes
    Malcolm Brogdon, Virginia
    5%
    8 votes
  • MoreMore>>

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