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This week in the ACC: Miami heating up late in the season, Louisville in position to win conference title

Clemson is still on track to finish above .500 in conference play and Virginia has also gradually turned its season around.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Notre Dame at Miami-Florida
The Miami Hurricanes women’s basketball team is only ranked No. 20 in the country, but the NCAA selection committee ranked them No. 16 in the latest tournament bracket.
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Conference play in the ACC women’s college basketball season is almost over. Let’s see where teams are heading with the conference tournament coming up very soon.

Miami is heating up at the right time

The ACC still has six ranked teams with No. 2 Louisville, No. 6 Notre Dame, No. 12 NC State, No. 16 Syracuse, No. 20 Miami and No. 21 Florida State, so it was a pleasant surprise for the Hurricanes when they saw that they were the 16th-ranked team in the country based on preliminary NCAA tournament seeding on Feb. 11.

Miami has won nine of its last 11 games, three of them coming against ranked teams. Its most impressive win was last Thursday, when they defeated Notre Dame in an exciting 72-65 upset over the defending national champions. Senior center Emese Hof put on a strong performance, scoring 21 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. Miami controlled the game by dominating the rebounding battle, grabbing 46 boards compared to just 37 for Notre Dame.

Three of Miami’s five remaining games are against other top-25 teams, including Louisville on Sunday (3 p.m. ET, ESPN2). But if the Hurricanes can win most of these matches, they could truly get a four-seed or higher when Selection Monday comes around.

Louisville is on track to win the ACC, but Notre Dame is close behind

Louisville leads the ACC with a 10-1 conference record and is on a nine-game winning streak. The Cardinals’ last game was a 72-63 win over Virginia Tech on Feb. 10. Asia Durr scored a season-high 34 points and Sam Fuehring added 21 points and 13 rebounds. The Cardinals took advantage of a 26-12 second-quarter run to give themselves an advantage the rest of the way.

The good news didn’t stop there. Durr was also named to the Ann Meyers Drysdale Award’s top-10 list, which honors the top shooting guard in the country. Notre Dame guard Arike Ogunbowale is also a Drysdale Award finalist.

The Irish are just half a game behind the Cardinals with a 10-2 conference record and will play NC State on Monday, Feb. 18 (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2). Even if the Irish win on Monday, Notre Dame will have to win as many games as they can and hope Louisville loses more games in order to win its fifth consecutive ACC regular season championship.

ACC games of the week

Aside from the games mentioned above, here are two more ACC games to watch this week involving more teams with postseason aspirations.

Virginia Cavaliers (10-14, 4-7) at North Carolina Tar Heels (15-11, 6-6)

When: Sunday, Feb. 17, at 3 p.m. ET

Where: Carmichael Arena, Chapel Hill, NC

How to watch: ACC Network Extra

Notes: Virginia won two games in a row heading into today’s contest and are in 10th place in the conference. They probably won’t finish at .500 in the regular season, but the Cavaliers can still finish toward the middle of the pack. The Tar Heels will celebrate their alumnae today, which includes a reunion of the 1993-94 team that won the NCAA Tournament that season. North Carolina should win this game, but Virginia has played better in conference play after a sluggish start to their regular season.

Clemson Tigers (16-9, 7-5) at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (15-9, 5-6)

When: Thursday, Feb. 21, at 7 p.m. ET

Where: McCamish Pavilion, Atlanta, GA

How to watch: ACC Network Extra

Notes: Clemson has been one of the ACC’s surprise stories this season. Though they’ve lost four of their last six games, three of them came against Notre Dame, Louisville and NC State. Last Thursday, the Tigers defeated Florida State 73-68 and added a second top-25 win to their NCAA Tournament résumé. The Yellow Jackets have won each of their last two games to date, but they were against Pittsburgh and Wake Forest, who both figure to be at the bottom of the conference standings. They will play Virginia Tech today at 1 p.m. ET and could be on a three-game win streak before this matchup of teams that both want to boost their postseason tournament hopes.

Elsewhere in the ACC:

Full ACC women’s basketball schedule