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This week in the ACC: Notre Dame and Louisville in position to win the conference, but so can Miami

Down to the final day of conference play, three teams are in position to win the regular-season title. Plus, Louisville’s Asia Durr and Syracuse’s Tiana Mangakahia had career-best scoring games last week.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Connecticut at Louisville
Asia Durr and the Louisville Cardinals look to earn the ACC regular-season championship outright.
Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 3 Louisville Cardinals and No. 4 Notre Dame Fighting Irish are co-conference leaders with identical 13-2 conference records. Both teams are heavy favorites in their games today as well: The Irish will host the 11th-place Virginia Cavaliers at 12:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, while the Cardinals play the last-place Pittsburgh Panthers on the road at 2 p.m. ET.

Barring a collapse, both Louisville and Notre Dame should win their last regular-season games. However, they are also aiming to win the regular-season championship. If both teams win today, Notre Dame will win the conference championship because they own the tiebreaker over Louisville thanks to their 82-68 win on Jan. 10.

Louisville, meanwhile, will win the regular-season championship if they win today and Notre Dame lose. Since the Irish lost to unranked North Carolina 78-73 on Jan. 27, it isn’t impossible for a team like Virginia to pull off a similar upset.

Notre Dame senior guard Arike Ogunbowale and Louisville senior guard Asia Durr are also playing in prime form heading into the last day of the regular season. Ogunbowale has scored 20 or more points in each of her last five games and is shooting a career-high 45.5 percent from the field this season. Durr scored a career-high 47 points on Feb. 28 against NC State and also shot 11-of-17 from three in Louisville’s senior night.

Miami still has an outside shot at ACC championship

What happens if both Louisville and Notre Dame lose today in major upsets? In this scenario, the No. 15 Miami Hurricanes could win the conference title if they win against the No. 10 NC State Wolfpack at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Winning the conference title looked like a reach for the Hurricanes in January. Miami was just outside the top-25 polls after a Jan. 10 loss to Clemson. But the Hurricanes have a 12-3 conference record and own the tiebreakers over Notre Dame with their 72-65 win on Feb. 7, and over Louisville with their 79-73 win on Feb. 17.

If Miami, Louisville and Notre Dame all lose on Sunday, then the Irish will win the conference championship.

ACC games of the week

North Carolina Tar Heels (17-12, 8-7) vs. Duke Blue Devils (13-14, 5-10)

When: Sunday, Mar. 3, at 12 p.m. ET

Where: Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham, NC

How to watch: ESPN2

Notes: In past years, the Tar Heels’ and Blue Devils’ rivalry was among the ACC’s top matchups. But in recent years it has lost its luster because both programs have declined within the ACC in the last four years. North Carolina has not made the NCAA Tournament since 2015, though they are in good position to do so this season, especially if they win today. Redshirt senior guard Paris Kea scored a career-high 32 points in a Feb. 24 loss to NC State and looks to have another big game before the conference tournament. Duke will likely finish with a sub-.500 regular season record unless they can win this game and go on a long run in the ACC Tournament. Duke redshirt junior guard Haley Gorecki is averaging 28.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 5 assists against the Tar Heels in her career, so perhaps she could have another big game this afternoon.

No. 10 NC State Wolfpack (24-4, 11-4) vs. No. 15 Miami Hurricanes (24-6, 12-3)

When: Sunday, Mar. 3, at 2:30 p.m. ET

Where: Reynolds Coliseum, Raleigh, NC

How to watch: ACC Network Extra

Notes: The Wolfpack and Hurricanes have both clinched a double-bye in the ACC Tournament. However, a win today will be a nice boost to their tournament résumés. This is especially the case for NC State, who are coming off a 92-62 loss to Louisville on Feb. 28. Graduate student Kiara Leslie has shone this season and freshman Elissa Cunane has grown into a starter for each of NC State’s last five games to give the Wolfpack the boost they needed to maintain their position. For Miami, redshirt junior Beatrice Mompremier and senior center Emese Hof have led the Hurricanes in a spectacular February where they went 6-1.

Elsewhere in the ACC:

  • Five ACC head coaches were among the 15 nominees for the 2018-19 Naismith Award for women’s college basketball coach of the year: Amanda Butler (Clemson), Muffet McGraw (Notre Dame), Katie Meier (Miami), Wes Moore (NC State) and Jeff Walz (Louisville). In a season where there has been no single dominant team, all five coaches certainly have a case to win the award. But Butler’s case is perhaps the most intriguing of the ACC’s coaches because of Clemson’s year-over-year improvement. This season, the Tigers are 18-11 and 9-7 in the ACC, a significant turnaround from last season’s 11-19 overall record and 1-15 in conference play.
  • No. 17 Syracuse junior guard Tiana Mangakahia scored a career-high 44 points while shooting 16-of-20 from the field in the Orange’s 94-88 win over No. 22 Florida State. The Orange led during most of the second half, but Florida State tied the game with just two minutes left in regulation. From there, Mangakahia scored nine consecutive points to put the game away.

Full ACC schedule