ACC Games To Watch for Upcoming 2017-18 Season

With the basketball season right around the corner, starting Nov. 10, let’s break down some highlighted games and match-ups in one of the most talented, lethal conferences – the ACC.

A few exhibition games here and there, we won’t see action as a collective until the 19th annual Big 10/ACC Challenge Nov. 27-30. The conference leads the Big Ten in the challenge, 11-5-2.

ACC conference play

The ACC starts conference play Dec. 9, when Duke travels to Boston College. Don’t expect a riveting contest between the Eagles and the Blue Devils. Boston College has finished dead last the past two season, and they had an infamous 0-18 conference play record during the 2015-16 season. The battle begins in a conference that has won eight of the last 17 NCAA Championship Tournaments and combined for 63 Final Four appearances.

Tough proving ground for the faint-hearted.

The following match ups are in chronological order as the season progresses and give fans some excitement to look forward to.

Virginia at Virginia Tech –  Wednesday, January 3rd

Why not highlight a showdown between the two in-state teams. Virginia is looking to find its identity again on the road. Last year Virginia Tech topped off Virginia in a double overtime game in Blacksburg. It may be a down year for Tony Bennett and the Cavaliers, which will make this rivalry all the more interesting during the 17-18 season. 

North Carolina at Notre Dame – Saturday, January 13th

Any game that pits two of the most talented players in the conference head-to-head. Joel Berry II is an all-around stud, when healthy. He is an early favorite to win ACC Player of the Year. But Notre Dame forward Bonzie Colson, another favorite to win the PoY, is going to protect his house when the Tar Heels come to town.

Duke at Miami – Monday, January 15th

Miami is a contender in the ACC. This isn’t news. They won the ACC title in 2013, and they see no reason why this year isn’t their year. Highly touted freshman Lonnie Walker is recovering from a knee injury, but should be back by the start of the season and fully healthy by this game. The game is highlighted because Duke is favored to win the ACC with their talented group of incoming freshman, giving the Hurricanes the ultimate proving ground early in conference play. Duke will look to outplay with talent in order to overcome a more experienced, sized Miami team.

Louisville at Miami – Wednesday, January 24th

Miami could have momentum coming into this contest if they manage a win at home against Duke. Louisville’s season is going to start with distraction, as Rick Pitino will be suspended the first five games for an off the court scandal. In early season polls, Miami sits atop of the Cardinals, who while was a No. 2 seed in last year’s tournament lost a key piece in Donovan Mitchell.

Duke at UNC – Thursday, February 8th

It’s the rivalry game we as basketball fans wait all season for. It’s part one of the epic saga between two powerhouse programs, separated by the 10-mile stretch on Tobacco Road. This game will be a perfect gauge of talent among the two programs. For obvious reasons, this game is going to draw the attention of the entire NCAA, not just the ACC. 

Last season’s results: Duke topped UNC, 86-78, at Cameron while the Tar Heels had the final say at home, closing out the season with a 90-83 win.

Louisville at Duke – Wednesday, February 21st

This is a big test for Louisville. The Cardinals look for a pair of wins in thee days against UNC and Duke. Two wins would give Louisville a boost up in polls and nods for better seeding in the tournament. While back to back games against UNC and Duke is never easy, the Cards have a veteran team capable of handling this tough test. It won’t be an easy year for the Cardinals. Hopefully they have talent to back up the team.

UNC at Duke – Saturday, March 3rd

The battle on Tobacco Road part two is a hands-down, no-brainer hyped game. Why not save the best for last. UNC not only has to take on a prolific Blue Devils team, but they have to keep their focus in one of the most legendary gyms in Cameron Indoor. At this point in the season, you can expect the two teams to be vying for the best eye bid. It will be a challenge to take on the Crazies at home. Not to mention it’s senior night for Grayson Allen. Talk about your momentum. 

Player watch list:

  • Joel Berry II, UNC

  • Deng Adel, Louisville

  • Bonzie Colson, Notre Dame

  • Grayson Allen, Duke

  • Bruce Brown, Miami

  • Marvin Bagley, Duke

Late Rollie Massimino Leaves Mark On Basketball

Rollie Massimino is a name synonymous with college basketball. When you think of Massimino, you picture a larger-than-life persona in a coach that will forever be remembered as a hero at Villanova and a founder for the Big East Conference. And on Wednesday, Rollie Massimino passed at the age of 82.

The former Villanova coach will be remembered for everything he has done for the game of basketball.

Massimino sealed his name in the record books when he lead the 1984-1985 Wildcats to a NCAA title season as head coach of Villanova. The New Jersey native led his team in what was one of the greatest upsets in the NCAA tournament history, knocking off Georgetown University and its big man, the great Patrick Ewing. He was head coach at Villanova University for 19 seasons and will forever be remembered as a Wildcat.

Massimino coached for more than five decades, starting out as an assistant coach at Cranford High School in Cranford, N.J. His collegiate coaching career started at Stony Brook before he was assistant coach at Penn.

During his 19-year stint at Villanova, Massimino was a part of a crew of outspoken, big personalities that led the almighty Big East Conference during its prime. He was unapologetically an in-your-face coach. And he could back it up.

Massimino spent two years at UNLV from 1992-1994 where he was hired in hopes of bringing back a Runnin’ Rebels ball program to good standing with the forced departure of coach Jerry Tarkanian.

He ended his coaching career with assumed positions at Cleveland State and finally Keiser University, where he earned his 800th career win on Dec. 14, 2016 in its 77-47 blowout win over Trinity Baptist.

Jim Calhoun Eyes New Coaching Opportunity

Former University of Connecticut coach and basketball great Jim Calhoun has a major case of FOMO.

The legendary basketball coach said he was considering coming out of retirement, just in a roundabout way … and for an unusual coaching position.

News broke Monday when Calhoun told ESPN about a possible return.

“I’ve got a couple of other things in the works, one involving basketball, which I’m intrigued by,” he was quoted.

The 75-year-old Hall of Fame coach said he missed the kids. This is also the guy that became the oldest coach to win a Division I title in 2011 after leading UConn to the school’s third NCAA championship.

But Calhoun retired in 2012 for a reason. He beat cancer not once but three times. He missed a string of games during his last season at UConn because of back issues.

For his health’s sake, a return to coaching may be possible at a less stressful level. Turns out Calhoun isn’t at all eyeing a program under the Division I stage. He told ESPN reporters that he has had some discussions with Bill Cardarelli, the athletic director at St. Joseph.

Wait. Where?

It’s a no-name, Division III school that doesn’t even have a men’s basketball program. The school doesn’t have any men attending, period.

The tides are turning, however, and the school gave a press release in June detailing a future men’s undergrad program in the fall of 2018.

Talk about working from the ground up.

Nobody would doubt that Calhoun doesn’t have the experience in the game. He’s inarguably one of the best coaches of all time. That’s the kind of name you make for yourself if you had a career win percentage of nearly 70 percent, earn three NCAA titles, win four Final Four contests and win the John R. Wooden Legends of Coaching Award. His accomplishments go on for days.

But it makes sense. Coaches go into coaching for many reasons and almost always because of passion. The man misses being a part of that game. As long as he gets the OK from his wife apparently, that could very well be his last hoorah – a low key, starter program at a D-III school.

You can only play the game, or in his case coach, for so long. Once you stamped your legacy, would you want to be remembered as anything else? If you go out, you go out on top. If speculation is true and the HoF legend is successful at building a solid foundation at the no-name program, he’ll have changed the game even more for not only a D III university, but for basketball itself.

Rutgers Nabs Montez Mathis, Mac McClung

Rutgers finished with its best record since its time in the Big Ten last year under newly-appointed Steve Pikiell…And things are still on the up-and-up for the men’s program.

Rutgers Nabs Montez Mathis, Mac McClung

Pikiell just added a pair of weapons to his arsenal, starting with a nationally-rated member of the class of 2018.
Montez Mathis took to Twitter to announce his decision to commit to Rutgers, Friday.

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Mathis, a 6-4 guard from John Carroll High in Baltimore, Md., is a four-star recruit who made his pick for Rutgers amid offers from programs in North Carolina State, St. John’s, Minnesota, West Virginia, USC, Memphis and Virginia Tech.
Mathis was ranked nationally No. 69 from scout.com, No. 77 by 247Sports and No. 86 by rivals.com.
The shooting guard sees the open floor and is bettering himself making the open shots. Impressive nonetheless, he has yet to grow as a similarly impactful defender.

Montez Mathis

Montez Mathis

Mathis is the third player from his class to commit to Pikiell. Mac McClung gave the Rutgers program the nod the day before.

Mac McClung

 

McClung, a 6-2 point guard who hails from Virginia, favored the Scarlett sea despite receiving more than 27 other offers. McClung is a highlight reel on his own, dropping as high as 50 points in high school games. It was his growth over the summer that sparked the attention of Pikiell.
Also committing to Rutgers is the four-star forward Mamadou Doucoure.
This comes with a glimmer of hope for a team that finished last in a competitive Big Ten conference a year ago.

NBA Should Find A Home In Kentucky

It’s inevitable. An expansion in the NBA is coming. We could see two new teams in the mix in the near future. It’s just a matter of when and most importantly, where. 

Seattle is high on everyone’s list. Pretty easy to understand. All the city needs is the OK from the league and the SuperSonics would be able to start all over. The city, which has been void of a pro basketball team for almost a decade, would welcome its beloved SuperSonics. 

But we’re missing out on other states that are synonymous with hoops – Kentucky.

Kentucky is Hoops Heaven

Kentucky

Kentucky is a blank slate, waiting for a big league team to start roots.

Kentucky is one of 24 states void of a major sport, being the fourth most populous state behind Virginia, Alabama and South Carolina.

The last time basketball was on the big state in Kentucky was during the era of the American Basketball Association. So, why not now?

The Blue Grass State bleeds hoops. The fandom is faithful. If you’re not a University of Kentucky fan, you sport a Louisville gear proudly, waiting to debate with a big blue fan. And you can bet that you’ll see a sea of blue or Cardinal-red fill gyms on the road. They travel. They travel obsessively.

Yes. The SuperSonics would find instant success in the franchise’s revival, but can you imagine the type of following Kentucky would have?

Even with a passionate college basketball fan base, the NBA season works on a bit of a different season schedule. After March Madness, college basketball fans itch for more. The NBA stage will do, which sees its season extend three more months than NCAA. But who should the people of Kentucky invest in?

And let’s be real. The fan base in Kentucky, whether it be UK or Louisville, puts some pro team fans to shame.

Oh yeah, and there’s a pretty big talent pool in Kentucky.

There are currently 34 former Kentucky players playing professionally.

Rival Louisville boasts 18 in the pros.

Kentucky has been tossed around, and it’s one of the prospects on a short list. Other candidates in question include Las Vegas, Mexico City, Kansas City and Vancouver.

Kentucky is already a state that draws hype over hoops. It’s where high school athletes would love to play. A possible pro team would give the state 10 times an appeal.