ACC Weekend Previews: March 4
*To save time, check out all of the ACC Tournament scenarios laid out in this graphic.
Clemson (16-13, 8-7) at No. 22 Florida State (20-9, 11-4), 12:00 PM, ESPN2/ESPN3
Florida State was locked into the No. 3 seed in the ACC Tournament prior to beating Virginia, but the Seminoles desperately needed that win after dropping three straight. A revenge win over Clemson, the only team to pound the Seminoles (by 20, in the ACC opener) in ACC play, would be huge for them as well. But Clemson has a lot of positive momentum, and the Tigers can be anywhere from a five to a seven-seed.
Key to the game: Florida State’s turnovers. The Seminoles have let that evil turnover bug bite them again, and they desperately need to exterminate it. Three of Florida State’s last four opponents have scored 20 or more points off of their turnovers (Virginia had 27) and Florida State has 18 in the last two games. The trouble is, Clemson is the best team in the league in forcing turnovers (ACC opponents average a 20.3% loss of ball) and FSU is already the most generous team in giving it back (19.1% loss of ball in league play).
Random stat: Florida State leads the series with Clemson 30-28 but since 2007, Clemson actually leads 7-4. Clemson has only won two of those games in Tallahassee, though, and is 2-3 at FSU since 2007 (but 5-1 at home).
Prediction: Florida State 64, Clemson 57
No. 24 Virginia (21-8, 8-7) at Maryland (16-13, 6-9), 2:00 PM, ACC Network/ESPN3
Maryland and Florida State were the only teams locked into their seeds headed into this weekend (Maryland is an eight-seed). But the Terrapins are reeling right now, and their head coach Mark Turgeon is far too competitive to allow his young team to get complacent. Virginia could be anywhere from the fourth to the seventh seed, and the Cavaliers really need to have this one after a heartbreaking loss at the buzzer to FSU.
Key to the game: Foul trouble. Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon quipped that he needed to send Alex Len to the Tyler Zeller school of drawing fouls after his team’s loss to North Carolina. Well, most of his team seems to have already graduated with honors: Maryland is No. 1 in the league and fifth nationally in free-throw rate despite no real post threat. And the last thing Virginia can afford is foul trouble: not only is it the best/most efficient way for Maryland to score against their stingy defense, but it would also severely challenge the Cavaliers’ non-existent depth.
Random stat: Virginia has only allowed two teams to shoot above 50% this year: Duke and Florida State (on Thursday). Even with the high shooting percentage allowed, Virginia lost those two games by a combination of six points.
Prediction: Virginia 62, Maryland 56
NC State (19-11, 8-7) at Virginia Tech (15-15, 4-11), 6:00 PM, ESPNU
NC State could get anywhere from the fourth seed to the seventh seed depending on the outcome of this game: win, and it can’t fall below 6. This will be a very tricky game against a team that has been competitive all year. And the Hokies still have plenty to play for as well – big difference between being the 9 or the 10 seed.
Keys to the game: The three-point line. NC State has found road success in part because ACC opponents have shot 20.9% from three (compared to 42.3% at the RBC Center). In State’s road ACC wins, opponents have averaged just 2.5 made 3’s. Virginia Tech has shot 38.6% from three in home ACC games and 41.8% in home ACC wins. State will have to continue to defend the three-point line well as it’s the only well the Hokies can really get going.
The offensive glass. Good rebounding teams have basically been able to pound the offensive boards against Virginia Tech at will – the Hokies play good defense, but second-shot opportunities have hurt them. Still, they’ve given up just 22 second-chance points in their last four games combined after surrendering an average of 11.7. And State lives on second shots, collecting nearly 34% of their misses in league play and turning them into 12.1 points.
Random stat: A loss would give Virginia Tech just its second home losing season since joining the ACC and first since 2005-06. A win for NC State would give the Wolfpack five road wins in the ACC for the first time since 2004. From 2007-11 (Sidney Lowe’s tenure as head coach) NC State had seven total ACC road wins.
Prediction: NC State 69, Virginia Tech 65
Last week: 7-4
Season: 129-47 (65-28 ACC)