A look at the upcoming week around the Atlantic Coast Conference:
GAME OF THE WEEKEND
No. 20 Clemson at Florida State. Saturday’s game lost some luster after two straight losses by Brad Brownell’s Tigers (9-3, 3-3), the first being a 35-point loss to No. 13 Virginia last weekend followed by Wednesday’s at Georgia Tech. The Seminoles (8-2, 4-1) have been ranked as high as No. 15 this season, but fell out of the AP Top 25 while having three straight games postponed due to COVID-19 protocols earlier this month. They’ve returned with three straight wins against North Carolina State, North Carolina and Louisville and look like a top league contender. And FSU’s only league loss came at Clemson on Dec. 29.
UNC fell out of the AP Top 25 last month after an 0-2 league start, but the Tar Heels (9-5, 4-3) have won four of five while getting more consistent play from freshman guards Caleb Love, RJ Davis and Kerwin Walton. They have a Tuesday trip to Pittsburgh (8-2, 4-1), which has thrived behind Justin Champagnie (league-leading averages of 20.3 points and 13 rebounds).
PLAYER TO WATCH
Georgia Tech’s Jose Alvarado is a senior floor leader who has helped the Yellow Jackets climb into the upper half of the league race. Alvarado ranks in the top 10 in the ACC in scoring (sixth at 17.1), assists (fifth at 3.9), shooting percentage (sixth at .522), free-throw percentage (second at .850) and second in steals (2.3). He’s a key factor in Georgia Tech’s 3-1 start in ACC play entering Saturday’s trip to Virginia.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
Champagnie’s rebounding total is the No. 2 average nationally while his 21-rebound effort against Gardner-Webb in December was tied for the most by any Division I player this year entering Thursday’s games. … Duke (5-4, 3-2) fell out of Monday’s AP Top 25, marking the first time the Blue Devils were unranked since February 2016. Additionally, it marked the first time rivals Duke and North Carolina were both unranked since December 1982. … The league had played 125 of 155 games (80.6%) entering Tuesday amid postponements and rescheduled games due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
ON THE WOMEN’S SIDE
The ACC has the national headliners with Louisville rising to the program’s first-ever No. 1 ranking, followed by North Carolina State matching its program-best ranking at No. 2. The Cardinals remained unbeaten Thursday by topping No. 23 Syracuse, while the Wolfpack’s trip to Florida State for that night was postponed due to COVID-19 protocols. Both teams are scheduled for games Sunday, with Louisville visiting Wake Forest and N.C. State due to host Virginia Tech in its first game since Jan. 3.