A look at things to watch this week in the Atlantic Coast Conference:
GAME OF THE WEEKEND: No. 21 Virginia Tech at No. 12 Florida State. The Seminoles (14-1, 2-0) are off to their best start since going 16-1 during the 1988-89 season and can earn their first 3-0 ACC start against the Hokies (12-2, 1-1) on Saturday. “You have to have clear understanding that every night is a dog fight,” FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. “We want them to be in that mentality.” Buzz Williams’ Hokies fell flat after last weekend’s win against Duke in a 104-78 loss at North Carolina State on Wednesday night. And it’s unclear whether they’ll be at full strength considering freshman big man Khadim Sy missed the game with an ankle injury and Seth Allen was twice evaluated for a possible concussion during the game.
LOOKING AHEAD: The Seminoles have an even bigger game Tuesday when No. 8 Duke visits Tallahassee. The Blue Devils will be without Hall of Famer Mike Krzyzewski as the coach steps away due to back surgery and will be led by assistant Jeff Capel. Duke has preseason all-American Grayson Allen back from a one-game suspension after getting caught tripping an opponent three times in a year. One of those incidents involved FSU’s Xavier Rathan-Mayes last February, so that could add a bit of spice to this meeting.
PLAYER TO WATCH: North Carolina State freshman point guard Dennis Smith Jr. has been as good as advertised. He’s averaging 19.6 points, 4.1 rebounds and 6.5 assists entering Saturday’s trip to 14th-ranked rival North Carolina. And he’s coming off the second triple-double in program history (27 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists) in Wednesday’s romp against Virginia Tech.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: It won’t be easy to win on the road in the ACC if the first week-plus of league play is any indication. Road teams are 5-11 in the ACC entering the weekend, including losses by ranked Duke, UNC, Virginia Tech, Louisville and Virginia teams.
ON THE WOMEN’S SIDE: Seventh-ranked Notre Dame has been so good in ACC play that any loss is big news. The Fighting Irish’s loss at North Carolina State last week ended a 35-game win streak against ACC opponents for a team that was 47-1 in ACC regular-season play over the past three seasons. The Irish responded with a win at Georgia Tech earlier this week and follow Thursday’s game against Wake Forest with Sunday’s visit to No. 14 Miami - which handed Notre Dame its only other ACC loss in January 2015.
Compiled by AP Basketball Writer Aaron Beard in Raleigh, North Carolina.
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