Triangle College Basketball: ACC Preview

Luke Maye, Zion Williamson, and Torin Dorn headline their squads (photo Courtesy of Matt Wiener).

The triangles’ heralded teams began ACC conference play this past week. All teams have started their seasons well each with winning records so far, NC State at (13-2) (1-1), UNC (12-3) (2-0), and Duke (13-1) (2-0). Here’s a recap at their season’s so far and what they look to accomplish this year.

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NORTH CAROLINA STATE

The North Carolina State Wolfpack has began a great season. Kevin Keatts’ sophomore stent has led the Wolfpack to a (13-1) record and No.15 in the country. The team’s sole loss came to No.22 Wisconsin on the road by only two points, but a few weeks later they beat No.11 Auburn at home. Torin Dorn, senior, leads the Pack in scoring 14.5 ppg, rebounding 6.5 rpg, and steals 1.5 spg. It appears that Dorin is doing it all, but everyone is contributing. Every player on the team averages at least four points a game, and six other players besides Dorn score at least eight points per game. The balanced scoring on the team contributes to their average of 90 points per game. The offense and defence are both strong, this gives the Pack the second largest margin of victory in the country, winning by 24 points a game.

NC State went wire to wire in Miami last Thursday, January 3, defeating the Hurricanes 87-82 in Florida. Guard Markell Johnson, Junior, helped his squad scoring 20 points, securing four boards, and dishing five assists. After their win in Florida, the team returned to Raleigh to play against their rivals of UNC. The Pack shot a mediocre 42% from the field and 29% from the three-point line. They fell to UNC 90-82 and suffered their first loss since November 27.

UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA

The University of North Carolina Tar Heels and Preseason All-American Luke Maye’s senior year has been ‘okay’ so far when compared to the storied program’s standard. The (11-3) Tar Heels are ranked No.12 in the country. The Heels impressively defeated No.4 Gonzaga but suffered big losses to No.2 Michigan, No.18 Kentucky, and an unranked Texas team during Thanksgiving in Las Vegas. Luke Maye, Cameron Johnson, and Coby White lead the team all averaging at least 14 points a game. Five-Star freshman Nassir Little doesn’t start for UNC, but still scores 11 points a game playing only an average of 19 minutes each game.

UNC faced off against Pittsburgh this past Saturday and cruised to victory winning 85-60.

Luke Maye continued a superb season scoring 17 points and securing 10 rebounds.  On the road again, the Tar Heels beat the NC State Wolfpack 90-82. Cam Johnson lead the team scoring 15 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, and five dimes. His impressive statline came after only 23 minutes of play, this is because of knee injury in the early part of the second half. The Tar Heels are now (2-0) in the ACC play.

DUKE UNIVERSITY

The Duke University Blue Devils (13-1) have started a phenomenal season ranked No.1 in the country and remained in the nation’s top four the entire season. Duke’s “one and done” squad features the three highest-rated recruits in the nation, RJ Barrett, Zion Williamson, and Cam Reddish. And if that wasn’t enough, Tre Jones, brother of 2015 National Championship MOP Tyus Jones, rounds out the squad at point guard. These four players score about 65 of Duke’s 91 points per game. Zion Williamson, who nearly averages a double-double, continues to dazzle the nation and internet with his monster dunks.

The Blue Devil squad has big wins against No.8 Texas Tech, No.11 Auburn, No.18 Kentucky, and No.22 Indiana in the Big 10/ACC Challenge. Duke was defeated just once by No.5 Gonzaga in the championship game of the Maui Invitational in Hawaii over Thanksgiving.

Duke defeated Clemson on Saturday 87-68 in their first ACC game of the year. Zion Williamson shined against the Tigers scoring 25 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in just 22 minutes of play. On Tuesday in Winston Salem, Zion posted a career-high 30 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, four steals, and a block in their first true road game of the season. The Blue Devils defeated the Demon Deacons 87-65 to become (2-0) in the ACC.

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The North Carolina College Basketball staples are all projected to have a good run this year. There is a great chance Duke and UNC can make a deep NCAA Tournament run, whether that be the elite eight, final four, or even a shot at winning the Championship. Although it’s unlikely NC State will make it that far, they are worthy to make it to the sweet sixteen and possibly even beyond that. Nonetheless, it’s looking to be a superb year to be a college basketball fan in North Carolina.

Keep up with State, UNC, and Duke on Twitter.

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