A look at the upcoming week around the Atlantic Coast Conference:
GAME OF THE WEEKEND: Florida State at Louisville. With No. 2 Virginia leading every team by at least three games, the standings intrigue has shifted to the race for second. The Cardinals (16-6, 6-3) have won five of seven games since an overtime loss to Clemson on Jan. 6, with one loss coming in overtime at Miami and the other in Wednesday’s trip to Virginia . Florida State (16-6, 5-5) had won three straight to build some momentum and join the logjam way back of the Cavaliers, but the Seminoles squandered a 10-point lead in Wednesday’s loss to a Wake Forest team that hadn’t won a game in four weeks.
LOOKING AHEAD: North Carolina State has marquee wins against Arizona , Duke and North Carolina . Now Kevin Keatts’ first squad visits Virginia Tech in Wednesday’s matchup of teams trying to bolster their NCAA Tournament resumes in February. And the following day, the latest renewal of the Duke-UNC rivalry takes place in Chapel Hill.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Miami freshman Lonnie Walker IV has upped his production entering Saturday’s trip to Virginia Tech. The 6-foot-5 guard is averaging 19.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists in the past five games, a huge leap considering he was averaging just 7.8 points on the season before this stretch. The Hurricanes will need Walker to keep producing at a high level considering sophomore guard Bruce Brown Jr. (11.4 points) is expected to miss roughly six weeks due to a foot injury .
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Either No. 19 North Carolina is really unlucky by catching opponents on hot shooting days or the Tar Heels’ 3-point defense needs a lot of work (maybe both?) entering Saturday’s game against Pittsburgh. The Tar Heels rank 328th out of 351 Division I programs in 3-point percentage defense (.385) as of Wednesday night’s games. They’ve allowed 240 3s, a total exceeded by only two teams (UT Martin’s 242, Delaware State’s 246). And in the past two games, both North Carolina State and Clemson made 15 of 30 3s.
ON THE WOMEN’S SIDE: No. 4 Louisville, No. 5 Notre Dame and Virginia hit the midway point of the league slate at 8-1. The Fighting Irish get the toughest task of the weekend for that group, visiting No. 19 Duke on Sunday. Notre Dame is 15-1 in the series, with the only loss coming in November 1997.
Compiled by AP Basketball Writer Aaron Beard in Raleigh, North Carolina.