Virginia-Duke showdown headlines ACC's busy weekend

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Virginia-Duke showdown headlines ACC's busy weekend
Wake Forest's Mitchell Wilbekin (10) shoots over Duke's Marvin Bagley III (35) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Winston-Salem, N.C., Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

A look at the upcoming week around the Atlantic Coast Conference:

GAME OF THE WEEKEND: No. 2 Virginia at No. 4 Duke. The lone regular-season meeting of these top-five teams qualifies as the game of the year in the conference — at least, so far. The first-place Cavaliers (19-1, 8-0) bring an 11-game winning streak into Cameron Indoor Stadium, where they haven’t won since 1995. Few have kept it competitive there this season against the Blue Devils, with all but one of their home wins coming by double figures. Duke (18-2, 6-2) has the nation’s top offense, averaging nearly 92 points, while Virginia has the top defense in Division I, allowing fewer than 52 points per game. The key question: How does Virginia’s tough, but undersized, defense keep Duke’s tough front line of Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter Jr. out of the paint?

LOOKING AHEAD: Louisville (15-5, 5-2) is quietly putting together an impressive season under rookie coach David Padgett, winning six of its first seven conference games to climb into second place in the league standings before an overtime loss at Miami dropped the Cardinals to third. They won’t take anything for granted this weekend against struggling Wake Forest, of course, but their biggest game under him comes next Wednesday night when they visit Virginia.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Tyus Battle has simply carried Syracuse at times this season. The sophomore point guard has scored in double figures in 15 straight games, ranking third in the conference with an average of 19.8 points. His best performance was his 37-point game in a double-overtime loss to Florida State in which he made 11 shots — the second time this season he’s done that — and hit 10 of 13 free throws.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS: The Bagley-Carter tandem has the Blue Devils in some elite company. With those two big men leading the way, Duke ranks fourth in the nation in rebounding margin at plus-10.4. Only twice in the previous eight years has Duke finished a season ranked in the top 50 in that stat — and both years the Blue Devils captured national championships. Duke was 28th behind Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow in 2014-15, and 14th in 2009-10 with Brian Zoubek and Lance Thomas.

ON THE WOMEN’S SIDE: The top of the women’s standings is a mess, with four teams — Louisville, Notre Dame, Florida State and Virginia — at 6-1 in league play entering Thursday night’s games. Things should start to clear up at least somewhat on Sunday when the Fighting Irish visit the Seminoles. Florida State is coming off a 50-49 victory over the Cardinals that marked their first loss of the season.

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Compiled by AP Sports Writer Joedy McCreary in Raleigh, North Carolina.

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