By Charlie Manolakis
I owe Mychal a thank you for hopping in on the last round of picks, as well as to Syracuse for an uninspiring cover Wednesday night to break our 1-1 tie in the games we were split on.
The clock reads 12, so it’s time to hit send. Let’s get started on another fun weekend in the best conference in basketball.
Picks to date: 32-8
Against the ‘analytic’ spread: 23-16-1
vs Mychal: 2-2
ACCBR Consensus (w/Mychal): 3-0
Saturday, February 2:
#9 Virginia Tech at #31 NC State, 12pm
Haslametrics projection: VT 79, State 76
Pick: Without Justin Robinson, the Hokies’ rotation shortens even further to 6. The analytics don’t know who’s hurt and who’s not and if Funderburk and Walker can get Kerry Blackshear into some early foul trouble, there’s not much left to stop them down low. State pulls the analytic “upset” at home. Free Landers Nolley.
#99 Georgia Tech at #32 Florida State, 12pm
Haslametrics projection: FSU 72, GT 59
Pick: After shooting an abysmal 25% from deep through their first five ACC contests, Florida State has caught fire in their last two outings. They’ve doubled that percentage, connecting on 52% of their attempts.
Georgia Tech has been most successful on the defensive end when they’ve been able to limit their opponents from deep, forcing them to engage Pastner’s stingy defense head on. Attacking the interior and getting to the line is also where the Seminoles have been most consistently dangerous this year, but they will meet much less resistance if they can force GT to extend their defense to the perimeter. Whether or not they’re hitting shots though, they’re one of the best in the country on the offensive glass, and Georgia Tech…well…isn’t. Noles -13.
#2 Duke at #51 St. John’s, 12pm
Haslametrics projection: 92-75
Pick: Shamorie Ponds and St. John’s started the year 12-0, but haven’t beaten anyone not named Creighton since January 5. Now they wander straight into the lion’s den at Cameron Indoor. Oh, and their tallest player who plays significant minutes is 6’7. Zion and Barrett have a field day, and Bolden might even get his. Duke -17.
#8 North Carolina at #13 Louisville, 2pm
Haslametrics projection: Louisville 82, UNC 80
Pick: Our consensus #3 and #4 teams go at it for the second time. Coach Roy and the Heels will be hoping to continue the hot streak they’ve put together since that last meeting with the Cardinals, but will need to do it in the KFC Yum! Center this time. So many critical players and matchups in this one. Jordan Nwora is of course always central to Louisville’s success, but Steven Enoch and Dwayne Sutton torched the Heels for 34 combined points and 21 rebounds. Carolina will need production (but mostly steady defense) from Garrison Brooks and Luke Maye in the post and will likely need big days from Seventh Woods and Brandon Robinson off the bench, in the absence of Leaky Black. This will be a wild one and I like the Heels to find a way to get their revenge on the road.
#83 Notre Dame at #102 Boston College, 2pm
Haslametrics projection: BC 73, ND 71
Pick: Another early-afternoon rematch, this time featuring Ky Bowman and the Eagles looking to avenge their road loss in South Bend. I expect this one to be just as competitive and won’t be surprised at all to see home court help make the difference here too, between two teams towards the bottom of both the standings and our rankings. BC -2.
#95 Miami at #1 Virginia, 2pm
Haslametrics projection: UVA 74, Miami 50
Pick: What scares me most is I think Haslam might be spot on with this projection. Hoos coming off their sloppiest performance of the year and an OT scare against State? Miami’s short rotation starting to wear down over the ACC grind and now traveling to Charlottesville? Give me Tony Bennett here by any line. If Miami scores 50, it’ll be because Chris Lykes got 25 of them (and/or Vasiljevic hit 5+ threes). If for nothing else, tune in to see Chris Lykes go up against Kihei Clark. Hoos -24.
#41 Syracuse at #79 Pittsburgh, 6pm
Haslametrics projection: Syracuse 67, Pitt 65
Pick: Make sure you don’t miss this one tonight either. Pitt’s lost four in a row, but three of those were on the road against quality opponents, and the fourth was a visit from Duke. Coach Capel has this team ahead of schedule, and they’ll be looking to put one back in the win column at the Pete. This game will also be a good bellwether for Syracuse and if they have what it takes to maintain their 6-2 start in the league. These are the caliber games which have snakebitten them too frequently since they joined the ACC. Looking forward to this one for sure, but give me Pitt +2 and another analytical upset.
Sunday, February 3:
#196 Wake Forest at #47 Clemson, 12pm
Haslametrics projection: Clemson 78, Wake 60
Pick: Danny Manning on the road. A resurgent Clemson team who looks like they may finally be turning the corner and preparing for a much improved run down the back 9. Give me Marcquise Reed and Elijah Thomas all day. Might be too many points, but I’ll take the Tigers -18.