Around the ACC: Week 10 (Basketball)

Story posted January 29, 2021 in Sports, CommRadio by Aidan Torok

If 2020 has shown us anything, it is the fact that we should expect the unexpected. While college basketball may be famous for its buzzer beaters and shocking upsets, the 2020-21 season has been impossible to predict for even the most die-hard fan.

North Carolina and Duke—the traditional basketball blue bloods that have dominated this sport—have taken a back seat. They may have been the face of the Atlantic Coast Conference for decades, but things have changed in this unconventional 2020-2021 season.  With a late start and canceled games because of COVID-19, Duke and North Carolina are a combined 10-7 in conference play. This has allowed for more competition than ever.

Teams like Virginia, Florida State and Virginia Tech all have legitimate shots to be crowned champion. As we head towards March, we should prepare for more upsets than ever and be ready to embrace the programs that have been overshadowed by the kings of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Disappointments

The most disappointing teams for the 2020-21 season are fairly obvious: Duke and North Carolina. These great programs have not found their footing this year simply because of the significant role that freshmen play in their programs.

No one is denying that Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski are great coaches that know how to attract astounding recruits to their school. However, with the season starting so late and limited practice, these two schools are at a disadvantage because of how much they rely on freshmen. It takes time for a young player to adjust to their teammates and their system.

North Carolina has had to turn to upperclassmen like Armando Bacot, and Duke has had to turn to upperclassman Matthew Hurt to be the stars of their team.

Favorites

With teams like North Carolina and Duke taking a backseat, we have new potential frontrunners. Virginia and Florida State have emerged from the pack.

Virginia, two years removed from a national title, is propelled by seniors Sam Hauser and Jay Huff. What makes this team so good is not the talent, but the coaching. Virginia never has gotten the top recruits like Duke, but head coach Tony Bennett has installed a great system. Virginia is a great defensive team that shoots very well and will be a very tough out in the tournament.

Florida State has also gotten all the way up to No. 16 in the AP Poll. Florida State, similar to Virginia, is being carried by upperclassmen like M.J. Walker. Walker leads the team in scoring with 14.5 points per game.

Players to Watch

While there is no Zion Williamson this year in the ACC that will steal the show, there are some very underrated players in the conference trying to propel their team to the tournament. Syracuse, a team that always seems to find its way onto the bubble, has a potential All-ACC player in Quincy Guerrier. Guerrier is averaging a terrific 16.8 points per game.

However, the leading scorer in the conference is Justin Champagnie, who, like Guerrier, is trying to carry his school (Pittsburgh) into the tournament. Champagnie is averaging a tremendous 20.2 points per game. Not only do the Panthers have the leading scorer in the conference, but they also have the player leading the league in assists: Xavier Johnson.

 

Aidan Torok is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email ajt6051@psu.edu.

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Aidan Torok

Sophmore / Broadcast Journalism

Aidan Torok is a sophmore from West Caldwell, New Jersey majoring in broadcast journalism at Penn State. He produces content and does play-by-play announcing and beat writing for the CommRadio sports department. If you’d like to contact him, email him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).