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ACC weekend: Snaer, FSU look to upset Duke

Florida State's Michael Snaer has shown a knack of making the big shot at the end of games. (Source: ACC Digital Network) Florida State's Michael Snaer has shown a knack of making the big shot at the end of games. (Source: ACC Digital Network)

(RNN) – It was another week, another game winner for Florida State's Michael Snaer.

With his team trailing by one, the Seminoles guard knocked down a 3-point shot from the left corner with 1.1 seconds remaining Wednesday. It gave his team a 73-71 win against Maryland and moved them to 4-3 in the ACC.

Snaer broke the hearts of the Clemson Tigers in similar fashion six days before. That night, it was a 3-pointer from the right wing that found the bottom of the net with no time remaining: Florida State 60, Clemson 57.

He and the ‘Noles face No. 5 Duke on Saturday. The Blue Devils are quite familiar with Snaer's clutch shooting; he dropped a last-second 3-ball in from the right corner Jan. 21, 2012, at Cameron Indoor Coliseum to quiet the crowd and win 76-73.

Clemson Tigers at Boston College Eagles, noon Saturday

Aside from a Jan. 8 blowout at Duke, Clemson (12-8, 4-4 in ACC) does not have a loss by more than five points in conference play. The squad's defense is ranked in the top-20 nationally in points allowed.

Tuesday they found themselves on the right side of a close game, beating Georgia Tech 63-60. Point guard Rod Hall does not get the Tigers much in the way of points, but he is the main guy responsible for getting top scorer Devin Booker and others the ball when they get in position near the basket.

Boston College (9-11, 1-6) has lost five straight games, but freshman guard Olivier Hanlan has been playing his best basketball. The scorer has been cutting through defenses to get to the rim, averaging 17 points per game in the same stretch.

The Eagles fell to North Carolina 82-70 on Tuesday but may have found someone to help their struggling defense. Sophomore Eddie Odio got his first start in ACC action and stood toe-to-toe with UNC standout James Michael McAdoo, blocking three of his shots and four overall.

Virginia Tech Hokies at North Carolina Tar Heels, noon Saturday

The Hokies (11-9, 2-5) have the most complete offensive player in the conference – maybe the country – in Erick Green. His individual success has not translated into ACC wins, though.

In the 73-64 loss to Miami on Wednesday, the team played probably its best 16 minutes of basketball, spreading the ball around and opening up an 11-point lead in the first half. But their offense became stagnant in the second half after Miami took the lead, as Virginia Tech deferred to Green on most of its possessions.

Cadarian Raines has shown his ability to score inside and could add another option for the Hokies, given the opportunity.

The Tar Heels (14-6, 4-3) took care of business at Boston College Tuesday, opening up a big lead early on the young team. Freshman Marcus Paige showed flashes of why he was rated among the best first-year players in the country, chipping in with eight points, six assists and solid defensive play.

P.J. Hairston knocked down four 3-pointers but left the game after a hard collision with a teammate. Doctors diagnosed him with a concussion, and he is doubtful for Saturday. His teammates will need to make up for that loss on both ends of the court.

Duke Blue Devils at Florida State Seminoles, 2 p.m. Saturday

The Blue Devils (18-2, 5-2) found out how tough Wake is on its home court Wednesday but made off with a 75-70 victory. Senior Mason Plumlee turned in one of his best performances on the season, with 32 points, nine rebounds, two blocks and two steals.

With still no word on when Ryan Kelly might come back from injury, the remaining Duke roster continues to find its rhythm while remaining among the top teams nationally. The team's 3-point shooters need to make enough of their field goal tries to stretch the defense and let Plumlee work inside.

FSU (12-8, 4-3) has been trading wins and losses in its last six games. Snaer had one of his better shooting nights in the win Wednesday, as the 42 percent average shooter went 7 of 13.

Okaro White has only been 4 for 14 from the field his last two games, and that will need to improve for the Seminoles want to beat Duke. The home game provides one of their best shots to add to a shaky, at best, NCAA tournament resume.

Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Maryland Terrapins, 2 p.m. Saturday

Devin Thomas managed 15 points and six boards against Duke, despite dealing with foul trouble and guarding Plumlee part of the night. The Wake freshman's progression as an all-around contributor is needed to take some of the pressure off Travis McKie and C.J. Harris.

The Demon Deacons (10-10, 3-5) looked ready to break through after a win against NC State Jan. 22 but followed it with a 20-point loss to Georgia Tech. Thomas and the other freshmen on the court need to grow up quick if the squad wants to make an impact in the ACC this year.

The Terps (15-6, 3-5) started the season with one of the lowest rated non-conference schedules but made the most of it, compiling a 13-1 record. And a win against NC State Jan. 16 put them on the inside of the NCAA tournament bubble.

Since then, Maryland has gone 1-3. Dez Wells has developed as a reliable scorer, dropping in 19 points in the loss to Florida State, but big man Alex Len (four points, five rebounds at FSU) needs to again show the type of play that had NBA scouts talking about him as a future top-10 pick.

Miami Hurricanes at North Carolina State Wolfpack, 4 p.m. Saturday

The ‘Canes (16-3, 7-0) leaped to a No. 14 ranking in this week's poll on the strength of a perfect conference start. On Saturday, it goes to the house of a hurting but still dangerous pack of wolves.

Miami point guard Shane Larkin plays few games where he is not the fastest guy on the court. The sophomore is coming off a huge night against Virginia Tech, finishing with 25 points, five 3-pointers, three steals and two blocks in a row on Marquis Rankin 3-point attempts.

The 19th-ranked Pack (16-5, 5-3) tries to avoid a second loss this week and will probably play without its point guard, Lorenzo Brown. The senior injured his ankle in the first half at Virginia, and the team left Charlottesville after a 58-55 defeat.

The Wolfpack has looked dominant at home against other tough opponents but will need to rely on freshmen Rodney Purvis and Tyler Lewis to handle the ball. Leading scorer C.J. Leslie has plenty of points (37) and turnovers (14) the last two games; he needs to continue the former without the latter for NC State to win.

Virginia Cavaliers at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, 3 p.m. Sunday

Four wins in a row have the Cavaliers (15-5, 5-2) in a tie for second place in the ACC. They are the only team not to allow 60 points or more in conference play.

The packline defense UVA employs is a hybrid man/zone set. The team starts in a man-to-man but moves to zone by sliding defenders inside if the ball moves close to the basket. It also cuts down on fast break points by players flying back to defend instead of attempting to rebound their missed shots.

Akil Mitchell, a 6'8" junior, is a key factor for the defense's success, using his size and speed to force altered shot attempts and turnovers.

The Jackets (11-8, 1-6) started slow in conference games but showed improvement in their last two. The team dominated throughout against Wake Forest on Jan. 26 and then hung in until the final seconds Tuesday against Clemson.

Robert Carter Jr., Marcus Georges-Hunt and the rest of the young Ramblin' Wreck are like most inexperienced teams – they play far better at home. If their perimeter shots fall, they could surprise a streaking Virginia squad.

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