A look at the upcoming week around the Atlantic Coast Conference:
GAME OF THE WEEKEND
Notre Dame at Wake Forest. Mike Brey’s Fighting Irish (19-7, 12-3) are tied with No. 9 Duke atop the league standings entering the weekend after surviving an overtime win against Boston College. They visit Steve Forbes’ Demon Deacons (20-7, 10-6) on Saturday, a matchup of teams in the upper third of the league, as well as teams pursuing NCAA Tournament bids in a year when the ACC isn’t offering a lot of quality win opportunities.
North Carolina has a pair of key matchups in the coming days, first with a visit to Virginia Tech on Saturday and then a home game against Louisville on Monday. Both could prove critical to its shaky NCAA Tournament chances.
The Tar Heels (18-8, 10-5) have put together a resume that, before Wednesday, largely leaned on the fact they had avoided bad losses, even while managing no quality wins (0-7 against Quadrant 1 opponents as of Thursday). But that was before UNC lost at home to a Pittsburgh team ranked No. 159 in Thursday’s NET rankings for a Quadrant 4 loss.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Virginia Tech’s Keve Aluma is helping the Hokies make a late-season push. The 6-foot-9 redshirt senior is averaging 15.8 points, but has scored 20-plus points three times in Virginia Tech’s current six-game winning streak.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
Miami went 5-0 against the ACC’s four North Carolina-based schools, including a win at highly ranked Duke. Miami had never gone through a regular-season schedule unbeaten against Duke, North Carolina, North Carolina State and Wake Forest. … Duke associate head coach Jon Scheyer, designated as retiring Hall of Famer Mike Krzyzewski’s successor next year, has led the Blue Devils to three wins in Coach K’s absence over the last two seasons. One came last year against Boston College, a second came last month at Wake Forest, and a third came Tuesday when he coached the second half in the rematch with the Demon Deacons. … The ACC hasn’t closed a season with fewer than three AP Top 25 teams since expanding to 15 teams for the 2013-14 season, but the league has had only Duke in the poll since late November.
ON THE WOMEN’S SIDE
The race for a top-four seed and double-round bye in the ACC Tournament is getting crowded.
No. 24 North Carolina’s upset of No. 3 Louisville kept the Tar Heels in that race while wounding the Cardinals’ hopes of catching No. 4 North Carolina State for the top seed. Additionally, No. 19 Notre Dame beat No. 16 Georgia Tech in overtime, while No. 23 Virginia Tech rolled past Syracuse.
After the Wolfpack and Cardinals in the standings, the Hokies (20-6, 12-3), Fighting Irish (20-6, 11-4), Yellow Jackets (19-7, 10-5) and Tar Heels (20-5, 10-5) are chasing the other two spots.
Notably, the Hokies visit the Cardinals on Sunday and host the Wolfpack in their finale, while Louisville still must visit Notre Dame. So there is set to be more movement as the season pushes into its final week of the schedule.
Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at https://twitter.com/aaronbeardap
More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25