FSU's trip to Notre Dame headlines weekend ahead in ACC play
A look at the upcoming week around the Atlantic Coast Conference:
GAME OF THE WEEKEND: No. 14 Florida State at Notre Dame. The Seminoles (21-4, 9-3) went 5-1 through a stretch of six straight games against ranked teams, lost two straight on the road, then regrouped with three consecutive wins by at least 18 points. Now Leonard Hamilton's Seminoles visit the Fighting Irish (18-7, 7-5), who had lost five of six since a 5-0 league start before beating Wake Forest on Tuesday night. ''I fully expected to have some tough stretches in this league,'' Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said after that win. ''Hopefully we're playing our way out of it.''
LOOKING AHEAD: The first half of the week has a pair of notable games, starting with No. 4 Louisville's Monday trip to Syracuse - which is 6-0 in league games at the Carrier Dome. Two days later, No. 12 Virginia hosts No. 18 Duke in a marquee midweek matchup.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Clemson's Jaron Blossomgame is having another strong season even as the Tigers (13-10, 3-8) sink toward a sixth straight missed NCAA Tournament. The 6-foot-7 forward and fifth-year senior is averaging 17.8 points and shooting 52 percent to rank among the top 10 in the league in both categories entering Saturday's game at Duke. Blossomgame declared for the NBA draft but returned to school with hopes of being the program's first repeat all-ACC first-team pick.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Kevin Stallings is having a rough debut season at Pittsburgh (13-11, 2-9). Despite having the league's top two scorers in Michael Young (20.8) and Jamel Artis (20.0), the Panthers are flirting with losing at least 10 games in league play for only the third time since the 1999-2000 season dating to their time in the Big East. Pitt had won 69 percent of its Big East regular-season games (141-63) in its last 12 seasons there before moving to the ACC for the 2013-14 season, but they were slightly above .500 through their first three ACC seasons and now sit at 30-35 in Year 4.
ON THE WOMEN'S SIDE: No. 14 Duke has built some momentum to climb the ACC women's standings. Since a 24-point loss at No. 5 Florida State on Jan. 8, the Blue Devils (20-4, 8-3) have won six of eight with the only losses coming on the road against No. 7 Notre Dame and No. 17 North Carolina State by a combined seven points. The Blue Devils - who missed last year's NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1994 - host 20th-ranked Syracuse on Friday night.
Compiled by AP Basketball Writer Aaron Beard in Raleigh, North Carolina.
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