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This week in the ACC: Notre Dame and Louisville get wins over Top-25 teams in non-conference play

The Fighting Irish and Cardinals continue to lead the way as the ACC’s premier teams. Meanwhile, the Virginia Cavaliers and Duke Blue Devils are struggling.

NCAA Womens Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Spokane Regional-Oregon Ducks vs Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Notre Dame guard Arike Ogunbowale is averaging 25.2 points to start the season. The Fighting Irish are currently 5-0 this season and will play the Connecticut Huskies on Sunday.
Photo by James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

With Thanksgiving weekend now behind us, let’s take a look at how the ACC is doing with a couple more weeks of non-conference games behind their belts and this week’s ACC-Big Ten Challenge on the horizon.


The ACC’s Top-25 teams continue to perform well

In the last two weeks, the ACC’s five Top-25 teams played non-conference matches against other ranked opponents and, for the most part, they were successful.

The No. 1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish are so far 6-0 in the 2018-19 season. Their signature victory was a 101-77 win over then-No. 15 DePaul. Jackie Young had a double-double with 28 points and 12 rebounds while Arike Ogunbowale added 24 points in the win. The Fighting Irish also had a 91-81 win over Oregon State this past Saturday in the Vancouver Showcase championship game. It was also their grittiest win of the season because they were down by 14 points at one point. But Notre Dame got the win over Oregon State, with Young and Ogunbowale once again coming up big, scoring 23 and 21 points, respectively. Ogunbowale was also named the tournament’s MVP.

The No. 5 Louisville Cardinals are 5-0 this season. So far, their signature victory was on Nov. 23 when they defeated No. 19 Arizona State, 58-56. This game was a very close affair until the very end when Sam Fuehring made the game-winning layup for the Cardinals with just three seconds left to go. She also led Louisville with 18 points in the game. Asia Durr, one of the WNBA’s top draft prospects in 2019, added 14 points and 3 assists in the win.

The No. 14 Syracuse Orange are currently 6-1 in the standings. Syracuse beat No. 20 Texas A&M, 75-65. Orange junior guard Tiana Mangakahia scored 26 points to lead the Orange to their best victory of the season.

The No. 24 Miami Hurricanes had a couple of tough contests, with mixed results, but have a 6-1 record. On Nov. 15, the Hurricanes defeated then-No. 19 Marquette, 63-55. Miami redshirt junior forward Beatrice Mompremier had a monster game, scoring 24 points and grabbing 21 rebounds in the win. Senior guard Erika Davenport led Marquette with 15 points. Though Miami found success against one of the Big East’s best teams, they lost to Iowa State, 75-52, on the road on Nov. 18. Emese Hof led Miami with 14 points in the loss, while Ines Nezerwa and Bridget Carleton scored 15 points each for the Cyclones.


Elsewhere in the ACC

ACC teams outside of the Top-25 are also performing well.

The North Carolina Tar Heels are 5-2 and have a win over a Top-25 team under their belts. They defeated No. 17 South Florida on Nov. 23, 71-69, in the Paradise Jam. In the win, redshirt junior Stephanie Watts scored 24 points to lead Carolina. Though the Tar Heels lost 85-75 to Kentucky the next day, North Carolina looks like they are in good shape to get back into the postseason.

The Virginia Tech Hokies have the ACC’s best record, at 7-0. They won all of their games by double-digit margins, except on Saturday against the Villanova Wildcats when they escaped with a 61-59 victory. In the win, the Hokies came back from an 11-point deficit to start the fourth quarter and Trinity Baptiste made the go-ahead free throws to ensure the win. Senior guard Taylor Emery led Virginia Tech with 22 points in the win.

Though most ACC teams are performing well, some teams are struggling at this early stage of the season.

The Virginia Cavaliers, at 2-4, are having a rougher start to their season than anticipated. Their 72-44 season-opening loss to Mississippi State, the defending runner-up, is understandable. And even their 63-51 road loss at Kentucky on Nov. 15 make sense. But the Cavaliers also lost 74-61 at home to Central Michigan on Saturday. Yes, the Chippewas made a Sweet Sixteen appearance last season, but Virginia also made the NCAA Tournament last year and cannot afford to keep losing contests before the ACC games start in a few weeks.

The Duke Blue Devils are also off to a rough start. They are just 3-3 after a season-opening 84-58 blowout loss to Northwestern on Nov. 11, a 71-64 loss to Washington on Friday, and a 62-54 loss to No. 21 Missouri on Sunday. Duke is traditionally one of the ACC’s top teams in women’s college basketball, but they have had trouble with other strong major conference teams this season. Hopefully this is just a rough patch, but major conference powers generally aren’t .500 six games into the season.


Games of the week

Here are three ACC games to check out this week.

No. 1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. No. 12 Iowa Hawkeyes

When: Thursday, Nov. 29 at 7 p.m. ET

Where: Purcell Pavilion, South Bend, IN

How to watch: ESPN 2

Notes: This is one of the games that will be part of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge taking place on Wednesday and Thursday. The Hawkeyes are among the Big Ten’s preseason favorites this season, but they will face their biggest challenge of the season since they will be on the road to face the defending national champions. Iowa is coming off a 84-81 win over No. 25 West Virginia on Nov. 23, and a 71-67 loss to Florida State on Sunday.

No. 14 Syracuse Orange at No. 23 Minnesota Golden Gophers

When: Thursday, Nov. 29 at 6:30 p.m. ET

Where: Williams Arena, Minneapolis, MN

How to watch: Big Ten Network

Notes: This is one of the games in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. The Orange are 6-1 so far, and if they managed to pull off an upset against Oregon back on Nov. 10, Syracuse could very well be a Top-10 team at this point. The Golden Gophers, on the other hand, are undefeated with a 5-0 record. It is good to see that head coach Lindsay Whalen is off to a hot start, but the Orange will provide the Golden Gophers their toughest test of the season.

No. 1 Notre Dame vs. No. 2 Connecticut

When: Sunday, Dec. 2 at 4 p.m. ET

Where: Purcell Pavilion, South Bend, IN

How to watch: ESPN

Notes: The two national powers last met in the 2018 national semifinals when Ogunbowale made a buzzer-beater in overtime to put UConn away. The Irish have home-court advantage in this game, but 2019 WNBA Draft prospect Katie Lou Samuelson and the Huskies hope to get some revenge for last April’s upset.

Full schedule for the ACC.