For one day, the ACC season begins with two early conference games in women’s basketball. On Thursday, Duke will host Georgia Tech and Maryland will host Virginia. Only Duke is coming off a victory, while GT and Maryland lost to top ten teams (UVA lost to previously ranked West Virginia). Both games begin at 7pm ET.
I expect both games to be good ones, as most games in the ACC should be this season. Right now, the ACC has five women’s basketball teams ranked in the top 25. Duke is the highest ranked at number four, with Maryland in the top ten at number nine. North Carolina is ranked 21st despite being blown out by now 14th ranked Tennessee. Miami is back in the rankings at 23 and Florida State has finally cracked the top 25 at number 24 (they are 7-0).
Injuries have plagued the two top ten teams, Duke and Maryland. But while Duke is slowly returning players from injury (Elizabeth Williams is back in the starting lineup and Richa Jackson and Chloe Wells saw action for the first time last week), the Terrapins are losing players. They are down to eight players, with guard Laurin Mincy being the latest to fall to an ACL tear (joining fellow guard Brene Mosley and center Essence Townsend).
In Duke’s matchup with the Yellow Jackets, turnovers may be the story. Both teams average a ton of them (GT averages 20 while Duke averages 14.5). Both force more than they commit. Overall, GT isn’t a very good shooting team (38.8%) and Duke’s opponents only shoot 32.4% from the field (while Duke shoots 50.8%). Duke is averaging 84 points a game while opponents are scoring a little less than 50. GT averages 67.3 points and gives up the same amount.
The Yellow Jackets rely heavily on two players: Dawnn Maye and Tyaunna Marshall. Marshall averages 15.7 points and eight rebounds a game over 30.1 minutes. Maye averages 15.4 points over 34.3 minutes a game. Brittany Jackson has made 12-of-27 three point attempts, but has shot poorly from inside the arc (7-for-27).
Four Blue Devils average double figures in scoring, including Williams who made her first start over the weekend against top ten ranked California. Guard Chelsea Gray leads the team with 15.8 points over 30.5 minutes. She also averages 5.5 rebounds and has 44 assists to 11 turnovers. Gray has also missed just one free throw this season (24-of-25) and has made 50% of her three point attempts (7-for-14). Williams is second on the team in scoring at 14.8 points per game despite averaging about twenty minutes a game. She also averages six rebounds a game.
Tricia Liston and Haley Peters have been great on the glass. Both average at least seven rebounds a game while scoring in double digits (Liston at 14.5 and Peters at 12.7). Liston has also missed just one free throw (14-of-15) and has made 52% of her three point attempts (13-of-25).
The Maryland and Virginia game could be interesting. Maryland is shooting 48.6% from the field while UVA is shooting 44.7%. Both teams only allow a little over 35% shooting by opponents. Neither team shoots from beyond the arc well, but UVA gives up seven made three’s a game. Both teams out-rebound their opponents, so this could be a key to the game. Both teams also turn the ball over, but also force turnovers (Maryland committed 26 turnovers against UConn on Monday night and do not have a point guard).
Maryland is led by Preseason ACC Player of the Year Alyssa Thomas. So far, she has had an up-and-down season, as she is averaging just 12.2 points per game on 33.7% shooting. She is averaging about seven rebounds a game, but has 25 turnovers to just 31 assists. Tianna Hawkins has once again been a force inside, averaging 18.8 points on 65% shooting. She is also averaging ten rebounds a game.
Fellow big Alicia DeVaughn is the other Terrapin averaging in double figures at 11.3 points (64% from the field). She is averaging 8.3 rebounds a game. Katie Rutan, a transfer from Xavier, is their go-to three point shooter, as she has made 10-of-23 (43.5%).
For the Cavaliers, Sarah Imovbioh and Ataira Franklin lead the team with a little over 12 points per game. Imovbioh shoots 68% from the field and averages 7.3 rebounds a game. Franklin has made 9-of-21 three pointers. Kelsey Wolfe is the other UVA player to average double figures with 11.6 points. She has made 25-of-27 free throw attempts, but has committed 24 turnovers to 22 assists.