Player of the Week
Luke Maye, North Carolina
For now, the eighth-ranked Tar Heels have bragging rights in college hoops’ greatest rivalry until the two teams compete again in two weeks. Playing one of the best games of his career, Luke Maye showed the nation why he was voted ACC Preseason Player of the Year. After Duke’s Zion Williamson went down with a knee injury 36 seconds into the game, the 6-foot-8 senior took full advantage of the freak accident. Maye made a statement in his last game at Cameron Indoor Stadium, scoring 30 points on 14-of-24 shooting. He corralled 15 rebounds, dished out two assists, and forced two turnovers. Maye attacked inside the paint the entire night, tearing apart one of the country’s strongest defenses.
Three days later, the senior recorded his eleventh double-double of the season against the 16th-ranked Seminoles. Maye scored 15 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead the Tar Heels to back-to-back top 25 wins. With a 12-2 conference record, North Carolina shares a three-way tie for first place in the ACC with Duke and Virginia.
Kerry Blackshear Jr., Virginia Tech
The 6-foot-10 junior has scored 22 or more points in three consecutive games and has been pivotal in the Hokies’ stretch without floor leader Justin Robinson. In Virginia Tech’s seven games this month, Blackshear Jr. has emerged as the Hokies’ best all-around player. He is averaging 20.1 points, 9.3 rebounds, while shooting 60 percent from the field in the seven-game span.
DeAndre Hunter, Virginia
On Saturday at Louisville, Hunter helped the Cavaliers claw back from a 12-point deficit. After the break, Hunter found his shot, making all six field goal attempts. He finished with 26 points, four rebounds, two steals, and one block. The 225-pound sophomore has scored 20 or more in three of his last four games.
RJ Barrett, Duke
Despite a loss at home to rival North Carolina, the freshman forward scored 33 points on 50% shooting and added 13 rebounds to his night. Several days later, Barrett striked revenge against Syracuse, putting his team on his back. He finished the night with 30 points, seven assists, and five rebounds in the 10-point victory.
Ky Bowman, Boston College
In his last four contests, Bowman has made just 19 of his 65 field goal attempts (29%) and is averaging 3.5 turnovers per game. Boston College is 2-2 in that span with its only wins coming against Pittsburgh and Miami.
Jack White, Duke
Duke’s unsung hero of the team has hit a brick wall. The 6-foot-7 Australian forward has not made a three since January 14th, missing 23-straight attempts. On a night that a Zion-less Duke team needed its bench to step up more than anything against North Carolina, White went 0-5 from downtown and turned the ball over three times. White did not see any playing time at Syracuse.
After riding a four-game winning streak, Clemson has dropped three of its last four. All of the losses have come within seven points are less. The Tigers are going to need to win at least three more games to finish .500 in the league.
Top Five Concerns
1. Jim Boeheim Coaching
It was an emotional week full of tragedy in the Syracuse community. On his way home after a win against Louisville, the legendary Hall of Fame Coach accidentally struck and killed a 51-year-old man with his SUV on the local highway. Debates rose whether or not Boeheim should take some time off from coaching. It was decided that he would coach against Duke, but the game was secondary to the emotions of the fatal accident. As he put it, “This is something that will be with me for the rest of my life.” Anyone watching the Duke-Syracuse game Saturday night could tell that Boeheim was not his normal self, which could take a toll on his team moving forward.
2. Zion Williamson’s Future
No matter if you like Duke or not, every college basketball fan was looking forward to watching the nation’s top NBA prospect take the floor in his first Carolina-Duke game. Fans saw just 36 seconds of the superstar play before he slipped and his left foot popped through his Nike shoe. Williamson instantly reached for his knee and did not return to the game. There was a lot of discussion to whether or not he should return to the court regardless of the extent of the injury. Duke reported that Williamson’s status is day-to-day. The freshman is too competitive of an athlete to shut it down and wants to win a national championship with his teammates.
3. Virginia Tech without Justin Robinson
The Hokies have struggled, compiling a 4-3 record in a seven-game stretch without their stud point guard who has been sidelined with a foot injury. Virginia Tech is clearly missing its best scorer, passer, and defensive player. There is no confirmed date to when Robinson will return, but it should be sooner rather than later. The question is if the Hokies can power through without Robinson and figure out a way to beat its next two opponents in Duke and Florida State. A win in either of those games will boost the Hokies’ résumé and put the team in position for a better NCAA tournament seed.
4. Clemson’s NCAA Tournament Chances
The Tigers are 6-8 in the league with four remaining opponents: Pittsburgh, North Carolina, Notre Dame, and Syracuse. With two weeks of ACC play left, the Tigers are still searching for that signature win. Aside from a win against Virginia Tech, Clemson does not have another quality conference win that stands out to the NCAA committee. The margin of error is thin and the Tigers are likely going to need to win out or pick up a few solid wins in the ACC tournament.
5. Louisville’s Tough Stretch
The Cardinals blew another double-digit lead en route to a 12-point home loss to the Cavaliers. This marks Louisville’s fourth loss in five games. In three of those losses to Florida State, Duke, and Virginia, the Cardinals blew a second half lead of 10 or more points. At this point in the season, Louisville’s inability to hold on to a lead is very concerning. Within less than two weeks, Louisville jumped from a projected 4 seed in the NCAA tournament to now what is looking like an 8 seed.