By Mychal Hunter
Just to let everyone know I am alive and well and enjoying two days off due to “NC-18: Snowpocalypse.” It’s amusing to me, being from Maine, the drastic differences between the north and the south regarding the snow. Yesterday I was told to stay home from work with literally zero snow on the ground while back home anything less than a foot is considered business as usual and a “get your ass to school” day.
On to the hoops.
Don’t look now everyone but Louisville is starting to put it together. The Cardinals needed double overtime to beat Notre Dame in South Bend on Tuesday but that was a Notre Dame that also welcomed back Matt Farrell that evening, the senior point guard had 25 points. Louisville has now won three in a row in ACC play, including two wins on the road, after suffering and overtime loss at Clemson on 1/6/18. The Cardinals have also apparently found their groove on offense, averaging 83ppg the last three games, roughly five and a half points better than their season average.
I am sure it is no coincidence that Louisville has realized its preseason potential at the same time that Ray Spaulding is seemingly realizing his personal potential. The 6-10 junior is averaging 14.7 points, 9.6 rebounds, 1.6 blocks and 1.6 steals in his last seven contests.
NC with an early season “must win”
Typically I don’t like the term “must win” but in this case I use it for my own personal thoughts on the Pack more than anything, as I recently described them as a team I expected to fade as the season went on during my spot on Matt and Jeff’s podcast this past weekend. Kevin Keatts’s group of wolves host Wake Forest tonight in a game that they should win. In their attempt to prove themselves to yours truly they need to win the games they are supposed to and Wake Forest is currently a wounded elk that needs to be chased down. NC State opens as a 4.5 point favorite against a Demon Deacons squad that has lost three in a row and five of their last six, of course that one win was in Chapel Hill against then 13th ranked North Carolina.
State is coming off a pretty solid drumming at the hands of Virginia in Charlottesville this past Sunday but Wake Forest is far from that caliber opponent and let us not forget that the Pack is an impressive 11-1 at home, averaging 90 points per game inside PNC arena. If they are to be taken seriously they need to beat this Wake Forest team and do it convincingly.
Can GT hang another pelt on the wall?
Georgia Tech takes its shot at ACC leader Virginia this evening within the friendly confines of McCamish Pavilion. Virginia comes into the game as possibly the hottest team in the country not named Purdue and while their margin of victory has not been overly impressive their play has been almost flawless since their December 5th loss in Morgantown at the hands of instate rivals West Virginia. One interesting thing to note is that Virginia has not left the “Lovers” state since November 24th. Nine of the Cav’s last eleven games have been played at John Paul Jones arena and the other two have been at WVU and at VPI.
Along that narrative, under Josh Pastner the Yellow Jackets have hosted five ACC teams ranked inside the top 15 in the country, their record in those games is 4-1. The Jackets have also come away victorious in their last three, the most recent coming on January 3rd against Miami. In those five contests Pastner’s Jackets have held opponents to 59.6 points per game and 35% shooting.
Now I am certainly not saying that you can expect a Georgia Tech victory this evening but the Jackets tend to play up to their competition at home and it was just announced that McCamish will be sold out tonight which might make it more of a game than most anticipate.
Clemson continues to strike out in Chapel Hill
Did anyone else watch this game? Clemson went from being one of the most impressive teams in the conference to a team in the first half that looked like a tiger running away from the sheep.
Clemson is actually really lucky that UNC did not blow them out by 30. The Tigers turned the ball over four times in the first four minutes and also suffered a 13-0 UNC run within the first 10 minutes. If not for 8 straight points by senior Gabe Devoe this game could have been very embarrassing for Clemson. Donte Grantham played extremely poorly and was obviously pressing throughout, playing way too fast and trying way too hard instead of letting the game come to him. Cliche’ I know but that’s what happened. Marcquise Reed saw very few clean looks on the day but was still able to throw in 21 points on the day. Clemson was able to show their offensive prowess in the second half, shooting the lights out and put up 56 points in the half but it was too little too late. Those big runs seem to take a lot of the wind out the sails and once the deficit is erased, you’re toast.
On the flip side Cam Johnson and Kenny Williams were fantastic for the Tar Heels on a night when Luke Maye was not at his best. Theo Pinson was also at on top of his game for the Heels, doing what he does best, everything. I have said before that the senior wing is not a great scorer but is really good at almost everything. In this game his line read: 12 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 blocks and a steal. He also only turned the ball over twice in 31 minutes played. This Carolina team looked confident and capable for the first time in quite a while as that stretch four lineup seems to really be clicking. They already have a fantastic resume’ but are widely doubted among college basketball pundits, myself included. If they continue to play as the did in this game however, they can really make some noise in March.