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Louisville, Florida State, and NC State are a terrifying threesome

The top three teams in the ACC have a combined five wins over Top 25 opponents. The Louisville Cardinals have a win over the NCAA Tournament favorites, Florida State has two wins over the Top 25 and NC State is currently unbeaten.

NCAA BASKETBALL: MAR 31 Div I Women’s Championship - Quarterfinals - Connecticut v Louisville
Dana Evans is playing at a high level, leading the 11-1 Louisville Cardinals. Evans is definitely an ACC Player of the Year candidate.
Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

As we inch towards the end of 2019 and closer to conference play, just seven teams remain undefeated in the Top 25. The Pac-12 has performed well, but the three ranked teams in the ACC have amassed impressive resumes.

Leading the way

No. 6 Louisville wrapped up its non-conference schedule with a bit of a scare on the road against University of Tennessee-Martin, needing two overtimes to win 71-63. Louisville has two wins against Top 25 opponents: then-No. 1 Oregon and No. 14 Kentucky. The Cardinals’ 72-62 win over the Ducks was on a neutral court, but their 67-66 victory over the Wildcats came on the road. However, their lone blemish, a 67-60 loss at Ohio State, stands out, as they are the only one-loss team in the top ten that lost to an unranked team.

Dana Evans, who came into this season with six career starts, is leading the Cardinals in scoring at 19.3 points per game and shooting 49.2 percent from beyond the arc. If Evans keeps this play up, she could find herself in the hunt for ACC Player of the Year.

2018-19 Freshman of the Year Elizabeth Balogun is hoping to improve her offensive efforts entering ACC play. After averaging 14.5 points per game as a freshman at Georgia Tech, Balogun sits at 8.8 points per game in her first season with Louisville. In Louisville’s last two games, Balogun is 2-for-13 from the field, scoring a total of four points.

Making the case

No. 8 Florida State has arguably one of the best resumés in the country, with a chance add to it before conference play begins on December 29. Florida State has wins over then-No. 6 Texas A&M and then-No. 19 Michigan State. The Seminoles have a chance to notch their third win over a ranked opponent on Sunday, December 22 against No. 24 Michigan. Overall, Florida State has yet to lose a game this season, sitting at 11-0.

The Seminoles are led by three seniors: Kiah Gillespie, Nicki Ekhomu and Nausia Woolfolk. Gillespie is averaging 15.6 points and 9.8 rebounds per game and has four double-doubles on the year. Ekhomu scored just four points in Florida State’s most recent game against North Florida, which ended her streak of scoring in double figures at 10 games. Woolfolk is averaging 13.5 points per game and is on pace to shoot career-highs from the field and from the three-point line.

Can the Pack keep winning?

No. 9 NC State is 11-0, but has played four games away from home, with only two true road games. NC State has played just one ranked team, then-No. 9 Maryland, and won 66-59. NC State and Florida State lock up in Raleigh on January 16.

Sophomore phenom Elissa Cunane has taken an impressive leap so far this season. Cunane leads the Wolf Pack with 16.3 points and 10.6 rebounds. After shooting 54.9 percent as freshman, Cunane is shooting an a scorching 64.9 percent from the field. Kai Crutchfield has made some strides in her junior season, scoring a career-high 10.5 points per game and shooting a career-high 39.0 percent from deep.

How it breaks down

These three teams were picked to finish in the top three in the ACC, with Louisville tabbed as the winner. The regular season matchups between these teams are sure to be electric, the first of which will occur on January 16 between Florida State and NC State. Louisville faces Florida State at home on February 6 and then travels to Raleigh on February 13 to face NC State. The outcomes of these matchups will loom large in the final standings of the ACC regular season.