In a week where the most noise in the ACC involved a football program that didn’t even have a game to play last week, ACC basketball stayed out of the spotlight for the most part. With most schools in the middle of finals week or heading off for winter break, the schedule had eleven non-conference matchups for nine ACC squads (Wake Forest and Florida State played two games; Boston College, Duke and Maryland had no games last week).
The marquee matchup of the week featured North Carolina’s Tar Heels taking on the Texas Longhorns of the Big 12 conference on Saturday in Greensboro. Despite the game being played in Greensboro, the Tar Heels fell to the Longhorns by two, as Cory Joseph hit a jumper with 1.4 seconds remaining for the game-winning points. For the Tar Heels, it was a missed opportunity to build some confidence as they head into conference play. The Heels had their chances with Texas, but couldn’t quite get the win. For Roy Williams, this continues a stretch with North Carolina where the play has fallen short of expectations. While last season’s team made a run late and finished second in the NIT, this year’s team is expected to be vastly improved. It hasn’t panned out so far, but the squad may get better as the season goes on-though it may not reach the lofty ranking it had when the season started.
The other losses by ACC teams last week were by Wake Forest, as they lost to Xavier in the Skip Prosser classic on Saturday 83-75, and Miami, which fell to unbeaten Central Florida and Marcus Jordan 84-78. For the Demon Deacons, it was another tough loss-their fifth already in the young season for a team picked to finish near the bottom of the conference standings. The Hurricanes had built a big lead but faltered as the Knights scored 51 points after halftime.
Off the court, the concern about the toe injury to Duke freshman point guard Kyrie Irving grew from his perhaps missing a large chunk of the season, to missing the remainder of the season. There has been no confirmation as to how long Irving will be out of the lineup. It appeared that just before he got hurt, he was getting some early consideration as the best freshman in the country-which in turn began whispers of whether or not Duke could or would go undefeated. Even without Irving, Duke remains a very good team, and still the team to beat in the conference. Whether the loss of Irving brings Duke closer to the pack remains to be seen.