This Week in the ACC

Our weekly Monday review of what lies ahead in the Athletic Coast Conference.

Mike Brey was right: Saturday in Durham only counts as one loss.

But that's about all that was accurate for the visitors in a 38-minute, 55-second no-show (the Irish led 6-0 on back-to-back 3s) against a Duke team well-equipped to exact a healthy dose of revenge after a four-point loss in South Bend 10 days prior.

Below is a look at the week ahead in the Athletic Coast Conference -- but first, the "weeks" ahead for the conference's five contenders.

TOUGHEST REMAINING SLATES
Five teams are contenders for the league title, a two-game bye in the ACC Tournament, and a No. 1 through No. 3 seed in March's NCAA Tournament. The latter is crucial because a No. 4 seed sets up a potential Sweet 16 matchup with No. 1 seed Kentucky -- which likely wouldn't end well.

Remaining Schedules are ranked from hardest to easiest:

1.) North Carolina (8-3): Travel to Pittsburgh, Miami, and Georgia Tech, plus have a home-and-home with Duke. The Tar Heels host Georgia Tech and rival NC State as well. Good luck navigating that…

2.) Louisville (7-3): Host capable teams Pittsburgh, NC State and Miami, plus Notre Dame and Virginia. Must travel to Syracuse, Georgia Tech, and Florida State (Georgia Tech is a live dog as the season concludes).

Louisville would lose a head-to-head tiebreaker with Duke but owns the tiebreaker against North Carolina. (ND and UVA pending).

3.) Duke (7-3): The Blue Devils have completed most of their heavy lifting aside from two home-and-homes: Syracuse and North Carolina, the latter of which includes a season-finale in Chapel Hill. Road games include a quick turnaround tonight at Florida State plus Virginia Tech. In addition to the Tar Heels and Orange at home, Duke hosts Clemson and Wake Forest.

The mere presence of two more games makes their slate more difficult than No. 4 below...

4.) Virginia (9-1): Travel to NC State, which is tricky, and must also end the season at Syracuse and at Louisville, albeit five days apart. The Cavaliers have a home-and-home with Wake Forest and host Pittsburgh, Florida State, and Virginia Tech. They will win the ACC for the second straight season.

5.) Notre Dame (9-3): The Irish travel to Clemson, Boston College and Louisville (2-1 is mandatory, expected) while hosting Wake Forest, Syracuse, and Clemson to conclude the regular season. If the Irish don't finish 5-1 in this stretch, they deserve whatever fate befalls them in Greensboro for the ACC Tournament and thereafter.

Ranking the games in order of difficulty (hardest-to-easiest): at Louisville -- Massive Gap -- at Clemson, Syracuse, at Boston College, Clemson, Wake Forest.

(Note: 6-4 Syracuse has removed itself from ACC and NCAA contention in 2015, self-assessing penalties during the pending investigation of academic improprieties.)

TEAM OF THE WEEK (Jan. 26-31)
Virginia -- The Cavaliers won convincingly at North Carolina, 75-64, then held Louisville to 47 points in a five-point home win Saturday night.

Coach Tony Bennett's squad has now defeated Notre Dame, North Carolina, and Louisville, with Duke as it's only stain among the ACC's four contenders (and only loss overall). Virginia must travel to Louisville to conclude the season.

Took it on the chin: Besides the Irish, that is? North Carolina State's tournament resume took a major hit with a loss at lowly Wake Forest last Tuesday.

THE WEEK AHEAD
-- Toughest Stretch: North Carolina State hosts Virginia Wednesday then faces Louisville at the KFC YUM! Center Saturday. An 0-2 week would knock them from NCAA Tournament contention at 5-8 in league play, 14-12 overall. A home win over Virginia seems the better opportunity -- and that's a troubling reality.

-- Toughest Week Ahead, Part II: NCAA Bubble squad Pittsburgh travels to Louisville Wednesday then hosts North Carolina Saturday. A win over either would add to a resume that includes a victory over Notre Dame as it's top conquest to date.

-- On upset alert: In order: Notre Dame at Clemson; Virginia at NC State; Duke at Florida State

-- Prediction for the Irish: 1-0…not that confident.

STANDINGS AND SCHEDULE
Virginia (21-1; 9-1) -- At NC State Wednesday; host Wake Forest Sunday
Notre Dame (21-4; 9-3) -- At Clemson Tuesday
North Carolina (18-6; 8-3) -- At Pittsburgh Saturday
Duke (20-3; 7-3) -- At Florida State tonight; at Syracuse Saturday
Louisville (19-4; 7-3) -- Host Pittsburgh Wednesday; host NC State Saturday
Syracuse (15-8; 6-4) -- At Boston College Wednesday; host Duke Saturday
Clemson (14-9; 6-5) -- Host Notre Dame Tuesday; host Va. Tech Saturday
Pittsburgh (16-8; 5-5) -- At Louisville Wednesday; host North Carolina Saturday
Miami, FL (15-8; 5-5) -- At Wake Forest Wednesday; at Boston College Sunday
NC State (14-10; 5-6) -- Host Virginia Wednesday; at Louisville Saturday
Florida State (13-11; 5-6) -- Host Duke tonight; at Georgia Tech Saturday
Wake Forest (11-13; 3-8) -- Host Miami Wednesday; at Virginia Saturday
Georgia Tech (11-12; 2-9) -- At Virginia Tech tonight; host Florida State Saturday
Boston College (9-13; 1-9) -- Host Syracuse Wednesday and Miami on Sunday
Virginia Tech (9-14; 1-9) -- Host Georgia Tech tonight; at Clemson Saturday


IrishIllustrated.com Top Stories