Duke-UNC, Virginia-Virginia Tech headline ACC games

ACC midweek: Taking Tobacco Road to get to South Florida

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Miami has always been a happening place, but the excitement the Hurricanes are stirring up is adding more life to the party. (Source: ACC Digital Network) Miami has always been a happening place, but the excitement the Hurricanes are stirring up is adding more life to the party. (Source: ACC Digital Network)

(RNN) – In-state and border rivalries are the flavor of the week in college basketball.

With the exception of the "Battle of Tobacco Road" and Miami's latest contribution to a case for making the city Florida's state capital, ACC teams this week have an uphill battle for credibility.

We feel fairly safe in asserting that, were Thomas Jefferson alive, he would approve of Virginia's philosophy built on a strong defense and selective attacks on opponents. If you didn't catch the connection, then you obviously slept through eighth grade history.

As for the other games this week, let's just say that individual matchups will be far more valuable than the overall product.

Virginia Tech at Virginia, Tuesday, 7 p.m. EST, ESPNU

Yep, Virginia is still the third-best team in the conference. There the Cavaliers (17-6, 7-3) are, above preseason favorite NC State, perennial favorite North Carolina and every other team that doesn't think scoring is a negative term.

Listen, you don't need to score when you give up fewer points than everyone except for Stephen F. Austin, and lemme tell ya, SFASU is tearing up the Southland Conference.

It's safe to say dominance of the Commonwealth is not in jeopardy this week.

Virginia Tech (11-12, 2-8) is all the proof you need to know that points are overrated. Just ask anyone on that team not named Erick Green – if you actually have any clue that there is anyone on the team other than him.

Seriously, someone else needs to do something noteworthy for the Hokies so we don't have to keep mentioning his name every week.

Miami at Florida State, Wednesday, 7 p.m. EST, ESPN2

Given FSU's current trend, the Seminoles (13-10, 5-5) are favored to win this game. No, seriously.

Starting with a 20-point blowout at the hands of Virginia on Jan. 19, they have alternated wins and losses. Since Wake Forest smacked them down by 15 Saturday, the ‘Noles should beat Miami by minus-19.

Wait. What?

The Hurricanes (19-3, 10-0) look like they could beat everyone except for the NBA team they share a city with. They're winning their ACC games by an average of 14 points – including a 71-47 victory over FSU two weeks ago – and for the first time in two seasons all the key players are healthy.

FSU is one of the few teams that can match up with Miami's size, but as far as experience, it's not even close.

Wake Forest at Boston College, Wednesday, 7 p.m. EST

We wanted to call this the "Battle of Teams That Almost Beat Duke," but we got the impression that would rub some people the wrong way. Folks just don't know how to take a compliment.

The Eagles (10-13, 2-8) started playing better basketball right about the same time they hit a stretch of games that included Miami, Virginia, North Carolina and Duke. Poor guys.

But look out for Ryan Anderson. He had no less than 14 points and six rebounds in each of BC's most recent games against Duke, Miami and UNC, and only a few sweaty fingers stood between him and upsetting the Blue Devils.

The Deacons (11-12, 4-7) followed marquis wins against Virginia and NC State by doing pretty much nothing else.

Wake is a funny team that Forrest Gump would likely compare to a box of chocolates. The stats aren't really there, but there is a lot of danger below the surface.

Wake has one win in its last 22 ACC road games, and the Eagles are 1-4 in conference games at home this season, so your guess about this one is as good as ours.

North Carolina at Duke, Wednesday, 9 p.m. EST, ESPN

UNC's offense has all you could ask for, and yet you watch them and somehow wish there was something more. Oh right – consistent defensive effort, that's it. We knew we'd think of it if we really tried.

Because the Tar Heels (16-7, 6-4) are basketball royalty, we don't officially get to write them off at this point, but the road ahead does not look good. After Duke they face three teams that have already beaten them this season – Virginia, Georgia Tech and NC State.

Even before Miami lit UNC up for 15 3-pointers last game, the Heels had trouble guarding the perimeter.

Enter Duke (21-2, 8-2) and its 3-point shooting that is sixth-best in the country. You can win bets by asking which active Duke player has the highest shooting percentage from beyond the arc (Hint: It isn't Seth Curry).

This will be a long night for anyone wearing a lighter shade of blue.

Clemson at Georgia Tech, Thursday, 7 p.m. EST

What's not to like about this game? Actually, an extra word slipped into that sentence. We'll let you figure out which word.

We have been patiently waiting for Clemson (12-11, 4-7) to turn the corner this season, but alas, it hasn't happened yet.

The only ACC team that hates scoring more than Virginia is Clemson with its paltry 63 points per game average. That's ironic considering the only team that gives up fewer points than Virginia is also Clemson.

That's life – while one team flourishes, another one flounders.

Devin Booker is as good a reason as any to watch this game. He is active around the basket and he's an opportunistic scorer. He also benefits from the play of K.J. McDaniels, who despite only standing 6'6", leads the conference in blocked shots.

Georgia Tech (13-9, 3-7) still has some growing up to do, and this team has shown signs of life similar to Clemson. A win over Virginia Tech – its first road win this season – was a good start to the stretch run in the ACC.

Four players that average very close to or above double figures – led by Marcus George-Hunt's 10.4 ppg – and a defense that holds opponents to 38 percent shooting lets you know what kind of threat the Yellow Jackets present.

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