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Around the ACC: Week 16

<p>Duke dropped out of the top four in the ACC with two road losses this week and saw arch rival North Carolina clinch the conference regular-season title.</p>

Duke dropped out of the top four in the ACC with two road losses this week and saw arch rival North Carolina clinch the conference regular-season title.

Two rough outings for Duke knocked the Blue Devils out of position for an ACC tournament double bye heading into the final week of the regular season.

No. 8 North Carolina (25-5, 13-3)

The Tar Heels clinched the top seed in the ACC tournament with key wins against No. 7 Louisville and Pittsburgh this week. Justin Jackson once again led North Carolina in scoring, dropping 21 against the Cardinals in a 74-63 win and 23 in an 85-67 win against Panthers. Jackson leads the team in scoring this season at 18.8 points per game and has hit at least two 3-pointers in 15 straight contests.

The Tar Heels are now in full control of the ACC standings with marquee matchups against Virginia and Duke looming this week to wrap up their regular season.

No. 19 Florida State (23-6, 11-5)

The Seminoles put away lesser ACC opponents this week, putting themselves in strong position for a top-four seed in the ACC tournament. Dwayne Bacon led the way in a 104-72 rout against Boston College in the Seminoles' second game in three days Monday, and Jonathan Isaac scored 14 points Saturday against Clemson.

In addition to leading the team in scoring, Isaac made a key defensive play against the Tigers when he blocked a potential go-ahead jumper with 11 seconds left in a 76-74 nail-biter.

No. 7 Louisville (23-6, 11-5)

Louisville split its two games of the week, losing at North Carolina but coming back with an 88-68 win against Syracuse Sunday. Sophomore guard Donovan Mitchell struggled to score outside of the paint despite finishing with 21 points against the Tar Heels, but found his shot again with a 25-point performance on 6-of-10 shooting from downtown against the Orange.

No. 21 Notre Dame (22-7, 11-5)

The Fighting Irish have bounced back from a midseason four-game losing streak with five straight wins to move into a tie for second place in the ACC. Bonzie Colson had a double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds to help Notre Dame to a 64-60 win Sunday night against Georgia Tech following an eight-day break from game action.

Miami (20-8, 10-6)

Miami prevailed against two strong ACC foes this week, outlasting a stifling Virginia defense 54-48 in overtime and holding a talented Duke offense to just 50 points. Bruce Brown paced the Hurricanes in both contests, recording 14 points against the Cavaliers—including the go-ahead 3-pointer with 26 seconds left in overtime—and scoring 25 against the Blue Devils, who were held 32 points below their season average.

No. 10 Duke (22-7, 10-6)

After winning seven straight games, the Blue Devils looked like they had finally figured it out in a season full of adversity. However, two head-scratching road losses this past week derailed Duke’s quest for the ACC regular-season title as injuries have mounted once again.

Luke Kennard scored 23 points Wednesday against Syracuse, but a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by John Gillon sent the Blue Devils home heartbroken by a score of 78-75. Frank Jackson led the team with 16 points Saturday, but Duke put up a season-low 50 points against Miami in a 55-50 defeat.

Virginia Tech (20-8, 9-7)

Two straight wins against Clemson and Boston College have Virginia Tech riding high, putting the Hokies above .500 in the ACC. Zach LeDay scored 19 points to lead Virginia Tech against the Tigers, and Seth Allen nailed a clutch 3-pointer with 3.8 seconds left to win it 71-70. The Hokies then shot a sizzling 67.4 percent from the field in a 91-75 rout at Boston College.

No. 18 Virginia (19-9, 9-7)

After a dismal offensive performance against Miami in which the Cavaliers blew a late seven-point lead in regulation, Virginia snapped its four-game losing streak by beating N.C. State 70-55 in a win that might have saved the Cavaliers’ season. Freshman Kyle Guy scored 19 points off the bench for Virginia as the team shot 11-of-16 from beyond the arc, reestablishing confidence and rhythm on offense heading into the postseason.

Syracuse (17-13, 9-8)

After being written off for much of the early portion of the season, Syracuse made its case as a potential NCAA tournament team Wednesday against Duke with a convincing win, as John Gillon’s 26 points and late heroics carried the Orange. However, a blowout defeat at the hands of Louisville put a damper in Syracuse fans’ dreams, and the Orange may need a win against Georgia Tech in their final game of the regular season to remain on the bubble.

Wake Forest (16-12, 7-9)

The Demon Deacons picked up a win in their lone game of the week, rallying from a 19-point deficit to defeat Pittsburgh 63-59. John Collins finished the game with 22 points and 13 rebounds and converted a tie-breaking tip-in with 18.8 seconds left in Wake Forest's biggest comeback in 18 years, and the Demon Deacons will get one last chance to add a signature win to their NCAA tournament resume Wednesday against Louisville.

Georgia Tech (16-13, 7-9)

Ben Lammers has established himself as a dominant presence in the post this year for the Yellow Jackets, but Georgia Tech’s most effective player had a tough week, combining to shoot 5-of-20 from the field in two losses. The Yellow Jackets lost to N.C. State 71-69 after Tadric Jackson's 3-pointer that would have capped a miraculous comeback was off the mark at the buzzer, and Jackson's 20 points off the bench were not enough to lift Georgia Tech past Notre Dame Sunday night.

Clemson (14-14, 4-12)

Clemson ended up on the wrong side of two gut-wrenching defeats this past week, losing to Virginia Tech 71-70 and Florida State 76-74. Both games came down to the final seconds, as Marcquise Reed and Jaron Blossomgame’s efforts fell just short of a victory.

The Tigers are now 1-9 in ACC games decided by six points or fewer and have lost five of their last six contests by a combined 12 points.

Pittsburgh (15-14, 4-12)

The Panthers raced out to a 36-17 lead against Wake Forest, but Michael Young’s 24 points were not enough to hold off the Demon Deacons, who finished the game on a 10-2 run to win by four. Pittsburgh followed that up with a blowout loss against North Carolina and has now dropped three of its past four contests.

N.C. State (15-15, 4-13)

The Wolfpack snapped a seven-game skid against Georgia Tech Tuesday in a game that came down to the wire, with Terry Henderson’s 21 points and Dennis Smith Jr.’s 18 lifting N.C. State to the win. But the Wolfpack's dynamic duo shot just 6-of-25 from the field Saturday in their loss to Virginia.

Boston College (9-20, 2-14)

The Eagles did not come close to snapping their losing streak, which stretched to 12 this week with routs at the hands of Florida State and Virginia Tech by scores of 104-72 and 91-75, respectively. Boston College athletic director Brad Bates stepped down Monday following years of futility from the Eagles' men's basketball and football programs.


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