The First Team All-ACC choice struggled in North Carolina’s final regular season game against Duke. Maye finished with 13 points and seven rebounds but had trouble hitting jumpers against the twin towers of Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter Jr.
Maye finished 6-15 from the field, and only hit one 3-pointer. Bagley and Carter are a tough matchup for the 6-8 Maye. If North Carolina is to do well in the ACC tournament, which could include a potential semifinal rematch with Duke, look for strong performances from Luke Maye as a key reason.
Robinson is part of the ACC’s most dangerous backcourt. The Raleigh native is tied for the league in scoring at 20.7 points per game. Boston College, however, has a meager 17-14 record and will enter the ACC tournament as the 12-seed. While the team could easily fall in the first round to Georgia Tech, Robinson is the type of scorer who can carry the Eagles to a deep tournament run. In his last eight games, Robinson has scored more than 25 five times, including a Herculean 46-point effort at Notre Dame. If Robinson gets hot, he and backcourt partner Ky Bowman could carry BC over superior teams.
North Carolina fans should be familiar with Freeman’s scoring prowess. Freeman dropped 29 points and shot a perfect 7-7 from three-point range in the Wolfpack’s win over the Tar Heels in the Smith Center on Jan. 27. On the season, Freeman is averaging 15.3 points per game shooting 35.3 percent on 3-pointers. Freeman has been hot heading into the ACC Tournament. Against Florida State on Feb. 25, he had 25 points on 4-5 three-point shooting. The last time he was held under 15 points was nearly a month ago. Freeman is a big part of why the Wolfpack were able to earn the five-seed and why they will be a team to watch out for in the tournament.
Wendell Carter Jr.
Somehow, the number five overall recruit according to ESPN has nearly averaged a double-double on the second-place team in the ACC, while still being overshadowed by a teammate. Carter has learned that is what happens when you play alongside Marvin Bagley III, the ACC Player of the Year. Yet Carter has thrived in his role as the second option down low for the Blue Devils. He posted averages of 14.1 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. While Duke’s opponents in the ACC tournament will be sure to key on Bagley, Carter can be just as dangerous. In a four-game stretch in which Bagley was absent, Carter averaged 16.3 points per game on 46.8 percent shooting. Carter’s efficiency as a second option makes Duke a favorite heading into the tournament.
Battle is the most important player on a Syracuse team that is desperate for wins to lock in an NCAA Tournament bid. The sophomore guard averages 20 points per game and is capable of going off on any given night, as evidenced by a 37-point performance at Florida State in January. North Carolina fans should keep an eye on Battle, as Syracuse is a likely second-round opponent. UNC spectators should also remember the way in which Battle penetrated the Tar Heel defense and got to the rim with ease in their contest on Feb. 21 in the Carrier Dome. He finished with 26 points without making a single 3-pointer. If Syracuse can get by Wake Forest in its first-round game, the Tar Heels will have to figure out how to better contain Battle.
Lonnie Walker IV
Though not the most famous first-year in the ACC, Walker IV has quietly had a good year for Miami. He finished on the All-ACC Freshman team and All-ACC Honorable Mention team. The 6-4 guard is a key piece of a very balanced Miami scoring attack. Walker’s 11.6 points per game are tied for the most on a Miami squad that finished third in the ACC, despite losing sophomore guard Bruce Brown to injury. If North Carolina can beat the winner of Syracuse-Notre Dame in the second round, they will have the chance to avenge a senior night loss at the hands of Walker and the Hurricanes.
The ACC defensive player of the year hails from — yep, you guessed it — the University of Virginia. Kyle Guy, a First Team All-ACC selection who averages nearly 14 points per game could have been selected as Virginia’s representative on this list, but Wilkins’ defensive mindedness is emblematic of Virginia’s style of play. Wilkins isn’t much of a scorer (he averages six points per game) but he spearheads a pack-line defense that is the best in the nation. Wilkins is 6-7 and versatile enough to guard multiple positions. He has 138 career blocks, which is good for third all-time in Virginia history. His defensive effort has made him possibly the most important player on this Virginia squad, which is currently 28-2 and the top seed in the ACC tournament.
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