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ACC Hoops Preview: #2 Duke vs. Temple, #25 NC State vs. Cleveland St.

With a short break until the first ACC bowl game on Dec. 27 with Duke vs. Cincy in the Belk Bowl, it’s time to turn our attention to ACC basketball. This is where the conference usually shines anyway and it will do so again this season.

On Saturday, #2 Duke (8-0) will take on Temple (6-0). Last year, the Owls beat Duke in their January meeting and are expected to challenge the Blue Devils again this year.

#25 NC State (5-2) entered the season with high expectations and has been a little disappointing. But there’s a lot of season to go. They will play Cleveland St. (5-2) on Saturday.

In other ACC games, #20 North Carolina (6-2) will host East Tennessee State (2-4). The Tar Heels will look at the match up as much-needed practice. Keep your eye on the Tar Heels James Michael McAdoo who is 13/2 to be the AP Player of the Year.

#2 Duke vs. Temple

Duke Forward Mason Plumlee

No one ever said preseason hoops play was necessarily easy.

For the Blue Devils, they’ll face a tough Temple on Saturday. In their January matchup, the Owls won 78-73 and will again go for the win. Even Coach K conceded the challenge with: “This will be a good one. We’re gonna play an undefeated Temple team with three kids that really hurt us last year who are all back.”

Duke hasn’t played in a week and in its last game, it won 88-50 over Delaware. They are currently averaging 78.8 points and a 48.1 shooting average per game.

The Blue Devils top player is Mason Plumlee who is at No. 2 in the conference with his 19.6 points per game and ACC-best 11.0 rebounds. For now, he is the sole NCAA player averaging a minimum of 18 points and 10 boards while shooting at 65.4 percent.

In addition to his stats, the 6’10” Plumlee will have a height advantage over Temple’s two starters taller than 6’6″: Anthony Lee and Jake O’Brien.

Plumlee’s teammates Seth Curry (ankle) with his 15.1 point average will return after missing the Delaware game while Ryan Kelly is expected to step up after his season-high 18 points last week and three-point success.

Temple’s Scootie Randall is its top shooter with 16.7 points per game. On Wednesday, he scored 21 points and hit five 3-pointers against Villanova.

As for Temple upsetting Duke again, the bettors don’t think it will happen, giving the Blue Devils the win (-8 with a 110 over/under).

NC State vs. Cleveland State 

NC State Forward C.J. Leslie

North Carolina State entered the season with veteran talent from last season’s Big Dance appearance (Richard Howell, C.J. Leslie, Lorenzo Brown and Scott Wood) and a good freshman duo (T.J. Warren and Rodney Purvis) but it’s been a little bumpy so far.

The team’s first big win to date came over Connecticut 69-65 on Tuesday in Madison Square Garden at the Jimmy V Classic. Leslie led in scoring with 16 points and a season-high 13 rebounds. Howell contributed 13 points and 10 rebounds while holding the Huskies to 40.3 percent shooting.

The Wolfpack needs to work on their defense. According to ESPN, North Carolina State is 4-0 when keeping teams to less than  41.0 percent shooting but 1-2 when it doesn’t achieve this.

In 14 of 15 home games vs unranked, non-conference teams, NC state has a 38.6 opponent field-goal percentage–something to continue on Saturday.

For Cleveland State, they’ve won two consecutive games: 69-63 vs. Ball State and 78-73 vs. Toledo. Against Toledo, sophomore Charlie Lee had a career-high 22 points and seven assists. Bryn Forbes contributed 16 points and Tim Kamczyc added 15 in the game.

The Vikings will play without sophomore forward Anton Grady (knee). He averages 13.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game but will be out for the rest of the month.

Cleveland State struggles against Top 25 teams, losing its first 20 road games against them but rallying 3-4 in its last seven games. But a win over top 25 team hasn’t come in 13 months.

The slump is likely to continue as the bettors have NC State at -17.


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