ACC basketball title contenders face rough road this weekend

NCAA Men's Basketball
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP)Here are some things to watch for in ACC play this weekend:

GAMES OF THE WEEKEND

ACC title contenders No. 8 Florida State and No. 11 Louisville may have more on their minds than just their upcoming games this weekend.

Both will have quick turnarounds for a Monday night showdown that seems like, with just two weeks left in the regular season, a game that could go a long way to determining who wins the regular-season championship.

First, the Seminoles (22-4, 12-3 ACC) must get past North Carolina State, and the Cardinals (22-5, 13-3) must contend with North Carolina. Both games take place Saturday.

Louisville moved back on top of the league race this week with a win over Syracuse and No. 6 Duke’s loss to North Carolina State on Thursday night.

Duke (22-4, 12-3) will look to bounce back at home against Virginia Tech.

Florida State and Louisville have one more loss than No. 6 Duke, the conference leader, and having to make up two games in the loss column is a difficult task with so little time left in the season.

PLAYER TO WATCH

ACC player of the year candidate Jordan Nwora of Louisville had an awful showing during the Cardinals 0-2 week with losses at Georgia Tech and Clemson. Nwora, who was averaging almost 19 points a game to lead league scorers, went a combined 2-of-11 shooting (including 1 of 9 on 3-pointers) for seven points in those defeats. He broke out once more Thursday night in Louisville’s 90-66 win over Syracuse with a team-high 17 points while outplaying the ACC’s current scoring leader in the Orange’s Elijah Hughes, who had just 10 points on 3-of-13 shooting. Nwora will need to more games like that if the Cardinals hope to keep playing well into March and April.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS

Virginia has won 10 ACC games for the eighth straight season under coach Tony Bennett. That’s the longest streak for the defending national champions since reaching double-digit victories for three years in a row from 1981-83. … The Cavaliers lead the country in defense, allowing just 52 points a game. They are also second nationally in opponent field-goal percentage (36.7) this season. … Clemson’s win over then No. 5 Louisville last week gave the Tigers a pair of AP Top-5 wins in one season for the first time since 1975-76. …. Roavertime? The ACC has had 12 overtime games this season, the most since 2015. The road team has won 10 of those, including Wednesday’night’s three-OT Miami win at Virginia Tech.

SUPPORT GROUP

Notre Dame’s championship women’s coach Muffet McGraw took a few moments to pose with North Carolina’s championship men’s coach Roy Williams when the Tar Heels visited the Fighting Irish this week. Then she sent out perhaps one of the top tweets of the season, posting on social media “SUPPORT GROUP MEETING of former champions on handling the adversity of this season,” before joking to Golden State coach Steve Kerr she was holding a spot for him.

ON THE WOMEN’S SIDE

No. 5 Louisville is back on top in the ACC after what looked like a serious stumble with losses to Florida State and Syracuse two weeks ago. The Cardinals recovered in a big way, winning the heavyweight matchup with then-fourth-ranked North Carolina State before routing Notre Dame last Sunday. Louisville got even more of a boost toward the regular-season crown when the Wolfpack were surprised by Georgia Tech the game after falling to the Cardinals. There’s only a week left before the ACC women’s tournament to make up ground and improve seeding after this weekend.

More AP college basketball coverage: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

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