NC State vs. Notre Dame highlights ACC action

WNBA

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Two of the ACC’s top programs will meet this Thursday, Feb. 15 when the No. 6 NC State Wolfpack (21-3, 9-3 ACC) travel to South Bend to take on the No. 16 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (18-5; 8-4 ACC) for the first and only time in the 2023-24 regular season. One of seven ACC matchups taking place on Thursday, tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. ET, and the game will be broadcast on ACC Network.

NC State may currently rank third in the ACC standings, but the Wolfpack remain the conference’s leader in the Associated Press Top 25. Of the five ACC teams earning spots in the weekly poll, NC State ranks the highest at No. 6, followed by Virginia Tech (No. 12), Notre Dame (No. 16), Louisville (No. 18) and Syracuse (No. 19).

This is, of course, nothing new for the ACC, but it still goes to show just how competitive the conference is, and how even one result can change voters’ minds significantly. The Wolfpack are the perfect example, briefly enjoying a No. 2 national ranking before losing to a highly-talented and disciplined Virginia Tech squad last week.

NC State will face another tough opponent on Thursday in the Fighting Irish, who play a fast-paced style of basketball and are led by freshman sensation Hannah Hidalgo. Hidalgo, who recently set an ACC record by earning her 11th Rookie of the Week award, has been a revelation for Notre Dame, averaging 25.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game—not to mention 5.1 steals, which leads all Division I players. Hidalgo also has been named to the midseason watch list for the Naismith Trophy, one of several annual awards honoring the national player of the year in Division I.

Joining Hidalgo on the Naismith Trophy watch list is NC State guard Saniya Rivers, who continues to impress as an upperclassman. Rivers is one of the country’s quicker and more athletic guards, and like Hidalgo, she’s a thief, averaging 2.5 steals per game to go along with 12.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.4 assists—all career-highs. There’s potential for an exciting individual matchup should Rivers draw the Hidalgo assignment, as she may be one of the few guards in the country who can slow Notre Dame’s star freshman down.

Can Duke find its groove on the road against Virginia Tech?

Later in the evening, the Duke Blue Devils (16-7, 8-4 ACC) will play the No. 12 Virginia Tech Hokies (20-4, 11-2 ACC) at 8 p.m. ET.

While Duke’s ACC record isn’t too shabby, the Blue Devils have had an up-and-down conference schedule, and there’s a pattern to it. Duke is a perfect 6-0 at home but just 2-4 on the road, and is the only team in the top half of the conference standings to be under .500 in road games.

From this angle, the Blue Devils’ matchup against the Hokies will be a tough one. Virginia Tech is 7-0 at home in ACC play and is playing the best basketball of any team in the conference, having won its last seven games and ascending to the top of the ACC standings.

It just so happens, however, that the Hokies’ last loss came to Duke. It was nearly a month ago (Jan. 18), but Duke’s defense was masterful, holding Virginia Tech to just 46 points while outscoring the Hokies 42-20 in the second half. Virginia Tech hit just five 3-pointers in that game; according to Her Hoop Stats, the Hokies get more of their points from the long ball (36 percent) than any other ACC team. Duke’s success in running them off the 3-point line will once again be a key to victory—as well as turning around the program’s rough luck on the road.


Game information

No. 6 NC State Wolfpack (21-3, 9-3) vs. No. 16 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (18-5, 8-4)

When: Thursday, Feb. 15 at 6 p.m. ET

Where: Purcell Pavilion in South Bend, IN

How to watch: ACC Network

No. 19 Syracuse Orange (20-4, 10-3) vs. Miami Hurricanes (16-7, 6-6)

When: Thursday, Feb. 15 at 6 p.m. ET

Where: Watsco Center in Coral Gables, FL

How to watch: ACCNX

Florida State Seminoles (17-8, 8-5) vs. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (4-20, 0-12)

When: Thursday, Feb. 15 at 6 p.m. ET

Where: Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Winston-Salem, NC

How to watch: ACCNX

Pittsburgh Panthers (7-18, 1-11) vs. North Carolina Tar Heels (15-9, 7-5)

When: Thursday, Feb. 15 at 6 p.m. ET

Where: Carmichael Arena in Chapel Hill, NC

How to watch: ACCNX

No. 18 Louisville Cardinals (20-5, 9-3) vs. Boston College Eagles (11-15, 3-10)

When: Thursday, Feb. 15 at 7 p.m. ET

Where: Silvio O. Conte Forum in Chestnut Hill, MA

How to watch: ACCNX

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (14-11, 5-8) vs. Clemson Tigers (11-13, 4-8)

When: Thursday, Feb. 15 at 7 p.m. ET

Where: Littlejohn Coliseum in Clemson, SC

How to watch: ACCNX

Duke Blue Devils (16-7, 8-4) vs. No. 12 Virginia Tech Hokies (20-4, 11-2)

When: Thursday, Feb. 15 at 8 p.m. ET

Where: Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg, VA

How to watch: ACC Network

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