Duke at Pittsburgh

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski doesn’t need to be told his team needs to get better, specifically on defense. After surrendering close to 100 points to a North Carolina State team which was coming off an embarrassing loss to Notre Dame, the sixth-ranked Blue Devils will get a chance to regroup Wednesday when they visit a young Pittsburgh squad that is just trying to find its footing.

Marvin Bagley III (22.5 points, 11.5 rebounds) scored 31 and grabbed 10 rebounds while Duke connected on 51.7 percent from the field, but the Wolfpack shot 50.7 percent, outrebounded Duke 34-32 and committed just 10 turnovers in dropping the Blue Devils 95-86 on Saturday. “We played crappy defense. We were a little frantic, they played their butts off, we’ve got to get better. To me, it’s that simple,” Krzyzewski told reporters after the game. “Now the process of getting there; that’s what we’ve got to figure out. … The continuity of what you have to bring every day just isn’t there yet. We have to come to work every day.” Duke entered the game leading the nation in offensive rebounding percentage (41 percent) but was beaten 14-12 on the offensive glass. Pittsburgh shouldn’t pose much of a threat after dropping its third straight conference game, 81-67 at Virginia Tech on Saturday despite 20 points and four 3-pointers from junior Jared Wilson-Frame.

TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2

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ABOUT DUKE (13-2, 1-2 ACC): Senior guard Grayson Allen (16.8 points, 4.3 assists) scored only eight points – three in the second half – on 3-of-9 shooting, and the 6-5 guard is shooting only 33.3 percent in conference games. “I’m not blaming it on him, but when it’s not there, you know it’s not there and it just hurts you in every way,” Krzyzewski told reporters. “This group only has one veteran like that. The youth can show more if that one veteran is having a human night where it’s not good.” The Blue Devils already lack depth and will be without injured backup forwards Marques Bolden (3.7 points, 3.4 rebounds), who also missed the N.C. State game, along with fellow 6-10 sophomore Javin DeLaurier (4.9 points, 4.6 rebounds).

ABOUT PITTSBURGH (8-8, 0-3): Despite starting five freshmen for the second straight game, the Panthers weren’t all bad, shooting a season-high 46.2 percent (12-of-26) from beyond the arc and holding a 31-26 rebound advantage over the Hokies last time out. Parker Stewart (7.4 points, 36.8 percent on 3-pointers) went 4-of-5 from deep, Wilson-Frame added four 3-pointers and Marcus Carr (11.1 points, 4.0 assists) drilled three. Wilson-Frame, who leads the team in scoring (12.9 points), bounced back from a six-point effort against Louisville and has reached double figures in five of his last six games despite moving from the starting lineup to the bench.

TIP-INS

1. The last time the teams met in Pittsburgh, on Feb. 28, 2016, the Panthers knocked off the Blue Devils 76-62 despite 22 points from Allen. Duke won last year’s contest 72-64 at Cameron Indoor Stadium behind 21 from Allen.

2. The Panthers miss F Ryan Luther (12.7 points, 10.1 rebounds), who has been out the last six games with a foot injury.

3. Bagley has scored 63 points on 24-of-31 shooting with 31 rebounds in his last two games and is one of four players in the country averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds.

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Posted in CBB

UNC versus Pitt Preview

Pittsburgh may have finally found a replacement for All-American running back James Conner. After a bye week, Darrin Hall seeks a third straight 100-yard effort on Thursday night when the surging Panthers host struggling North Carolina. UNC versus Pitt will be broadcast at 7:30pm on ESPN. Play this game as part of Thursday GoW cross sports contest starting at 7:30pm ET.

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Conner ran for 3,733 yards and a 5.6 yards-per-carry average during his four-year career with the Panthers, including a 1,765-yard, 26-touchdown campaign in 2014. Hall, a junior who had carried the ball only 131 times in 2 1/2 years, broke out for 254 yards in Pitt’s 24-17 victory at Duke on October 21 and followed that up with 111 yards on 25 carries in a 31-14 victory against Virginia on October 28. The Panthers improved to 4-5 with the wins and now have a chance of earning a 10th straight trip to a bowl game. North Carolina has lost six straight games, but the Tar Heels have won the last four games in the series, and since 2013 are the only team the Panthers have not defeated in the Coastal division.

ABOUT NORTH CAROLINA (1-8, 0-6 ACC)

In their last contest on October 28, the Tar Heels outgained Miami 428-415 and had 27 first downs, 11 more than Miami, before succumbing 24-19. Nathan Elliott replaced injured starter Chazz Surratt in the first half, completed 16-of-39 passes for 173 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions, ran for 79 yards and caught a 33-yard pass. Wide receiver Anthony Ratliff-Williams completed 2-of-3 passes for 51 yards and a touchdown and caught two passes for 25 yards.

ABOUT PITTSBURGH (4-5, 2-3 ACC)

Complementing Hall’s breakout is an improved defense that has yielded just 31 points in the last two games after allowing an average of 37.8 points during a five-game losing streak to Power-5 schools. Quadree Henderson, who was an All-American kick returner last season, returned a punt 75 yards for a touchdown against the Cavaliers – his seventh career kick return TD, two shy of the FBS record, and eight combined kick returns for scores, one short of the record. Quarterback Ben DiNucci has completed 55 percent of his passes for 895 yards with four touchdowns and four interceptions.

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Posted in CFB

ACC Games of the Week

Saturday lives for College Football and FanPicks has your fantasy football fix. If you are a fan of the ACC conference, then you’re in luck because we got the ACC Games of the Weeks contest. Only ACC games are allowed.With 6 games on tap, there will be no shortage of draft picks. Check out all of the ACC Saturday games preview below and join the action for cash prize!!!   >>>Click here to join the game<<<

Louisville Cardinals vs Florida State Seminoles

Louisville announced its presence as a national championship contender in 2016 by annihilating then-No. 2 Florida State, but both teams find themselves struggling just to stay relevant in the Atlantic Division of the Atlantic Coast Conference just over 13 months later. A pair of recent powers hovering around the .500 mark hope to improve their recent fortunes Saturday when the Cardinals visit the Seminoles (Noon Et on  ESPN).

Eventual Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson accounted for five touchdowns as Louisville throttled Florida State 63-20 last September – a victory that marked the third of four straight games in which the Cardinals scored at least 59 points. While the offense has more than held up its end of the bargain this season despite not maintaining the same pace as last season’s team, the defense has not after giving up at least 520 total yards for the third time in 2017 in last weekend’s 45-42 home loss to Boston College.

The Seminoles avoided their first 1-4 start to a season since 1975 with a 17-10 triumph at Duke – their fourth consecutive contest decided by seven points or fewer. The Seminoles have yet to win outside the state of North Carolina, however, losing in Atlanta to No. 1 Alabama in the opener as well as at home versus North Carolina State and Miami (Fla.).

ABOUT LOUISVILLE (4-3, 1-3 ACC)

Jackson (3,221 career rushing yards) continues to set school records by the week, breaking Walter Peacock’s mark (3,204; 1972-75) for the most ever by a Cardinal; he also scored his 42nd career rushing touchdown, breaking Lenny Lyles’ mark of 41 from 1954-57. For only the second time in school history, the Cardinals had a pair of 100-yard receivers and 100-yard rushers in the same game last week, as Dez Fitzpatrick (127) and Jaylen Smith (118) each topped 100 yards receiving while Jackson (180) and Reggie Bonnafon (107) surpassed the century mark on the ground. Fitzpatrick’s seventh touchdown catch moved him into a tie with Arnold Jackson (1997) and Mario Urrutia (2005) for most receiving touchdowns in a season by a freshman.

ABOUT FLORIDA STATE (2-3, 2-2 ACC)

The Seminoles rank 121st in the country in scoring offense (18.2 points) and 110th in total offense (346.6 yards), but a new offensive line tweak seemed to spark them against Duke as left tackle Derrick Kelly moved to left guard while freshman Josh Ball took over at Kelly’s old spot. Florida State allowed a season-low two sacks while its 84th-ranked rushing attack (144.8) churned out a season-high 228 yards on the ground, including 115 from freshman Cam Akers. Auden Tate paces the team with 19 receptions, 312 yards and five touchdowns despite finishing with only three catches for 30 yards against Duke; he has scored one touchdown in every game this season – tied for the longest active streak in the nation.

Pittsburgh Panthers vs Duke Blue Devils

Teams in search of a much-needed win and better quarterback play meet Saturday when Pittsburgh meets Duke in an ACC Coastal Division matchup (12:20 p.m. ET on ACC Network). The Panthers have dropped five of six since an opening-week victory over FCS foe Youngstown State, while the Blue Devils have dropped three straight conference games after opening the season with four wins by a combined 101 points.

Pittsburgh routed Duke 56-14 last season behind 237 yards passing and three touchdowns from current Buffalo Bills backup quarterback Nathan Peterman, but the Panthers have not received consistent play from either injured Max Browne or sophomore Ben DiNucci this season. The two have combined for just eight touchdown passes and 1,609 yards passing, opening the door for freshman Kenny Pickett to play in the second half of last week’s 35-17 loss to North Carolina State. During the Blue Devils’ season-opening four-game winning streak, sophomore Daniel Jones completed 62 percent of his passes for an average of 226 yards per game with five touchdowns against two interceptions. In the last three contests, the 6-5 signal-caller has completed just 48.3 percent of his passes for an average of 165 yards per game with one TD against three picks.

ABOUT PITTSBURGH (2-5, 0-3 ACC)

With Browne out for the season with a shoulder injury, DiNucci (55-of-97, 612 yards, three TDs, three interceptions) will remain the starter against the Blue Devils. The Panthers have rushed for a combined total of 433 yards in their last five games after breaking out for 363 yards in the first two games of the season.

ABOUT DUKE (4-3, 1-3 ACC)

With Jones struggling, the Blue Devils may want to use senior running back Shaun Wilson more, as the senior has averaged 5.4 yards per rush during the losing skid but has toted the ball on average less than 10 times per game. Sophomore defensive back Mark Gilbert leads the team with four interceptions – tied for fifth in FBS – and the team’s total of 12 is two more than they registered in the entire 2016 campaign and tied for second in FBS. The defense ranks 19th in FBS in total defense (313 yards per game), including 16th against the run (108).

Boston College Eagles vs Virginia Cavaliers

Virginia aims for its first five-game winning streak in 10 years when it hosts Boston College and surging running back A.J. Dillon in an ACC clash Saturday afternoon (12:30 p.m. ET on RSN). Dillon erupted for 272 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Eagles to a surprise 45-42 win at Louisville last week, posting the third-highest single-game total in program history and the most ever for a freshman.

He will take aim at a defense that is allowing 312.8 total yards per game – the third-fewest among ACC teams – and let up just 257 in last week’s 20-14 win at North Carolina. That result put the Cavaliers one win away from bowl eligibility for the first time since 2011. The Eagles are the only ACC team that Virginia has never beaten, having dropped each of the first five meetings, the last coming in 2010 at Boston College.

ABOUT BOSTON COLLEGE (3-4, 1-3 ACC)

Starting quarterback Anthony Brown completed 5-of-17 passes before being knocked out of the win at Louisville with a shoulder injury, and backup Darius Wade went 7-for-10 to help finish the upset. Dillon and junior Jon Hilliman have combined for 967 rushing yards and nine TDs for the league’s fifth-rated ground game.

ABOUT VIRGINIA (5-1, 2-0 ACC)

Benkert ranks second in the league behind Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson with 15 TD passes and he’s thrown just three interceptions in 248 attempts. He has plenty of targets, as three Cavaliers have at least 377 receiving yards and four TDs, led by junior running back Olamide Zaccheaus, who needs 32 yards to move into the top 20 all-time at Virginia. Safety Quin Blanding leads all active FBS players in career tackles (419) while Kiser ranks sixth (329) after the pair combined for 18 against North Carolina.

Syracuse Orange vs Miami Hurricanes

If Miami (Fla.) had any thoughts of looking past Syracuse, those surely disappeared last weekend. The seventh-ranked Hurricanes hope to avoid the upset at the hands of the visiting Orange when the ACC foes square off Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN).

Syracuse defeated No. 2 Clemson, the defending national champion, in its last outing behind three touchdown passes from Eric Dungey. Coach Dino Babers now hopes his team can re-focus in time to face the undefeated Hurricanes, who escaped last week’s date with Georgia Tech with a 25-24 triumph.

ABOUT SYRACUSE (4-3, 2-1 ACC)

The Orange are aiming to knock off consecutive top 10 opponents for the first time in school history behind Dungey, who ranks fifth in the nation in completions per game (26.9), and Steve Ishmael, who leads the nation in receptions (62). Ishmael has scored a touchdown in four straight games, although he is averaging 5.7 catches over the last three outings after averaging 11.3 catches in the first four contests. Dungey leads the team in rushing (386 yards) and has eight of the team’s 11 scores on the ground.

ABOUT MIAMI (5-0, 3-0 ACC)

The Hurricanes have won 10 games in a row dating back to last season, although last week’s win was a mini-miracle. Darrell Langham caught a fourth-down pass on a lucky bounce to keep the game alive before Michael Badgley kicked the decisive field goal with four seconds left. Travis Horner ran for a career-high 170 yards on 20 attempts and scored two touchdowns – one on the ground and one through the air.

North Carolina Tar Heels vs Virginia Tech Hogies

Teams heading in opposite directions meet Saturday when North Carolina visits No. 14 Virginia Tech during homecoming weekend (3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2). The Hokies are 5-1 with their lone loss against defending champion Clemson and coming off a bye week after dropping Boston College 23-10 on October 7, while the Tar Heels are trying to avoid a fifth consecutive loss in one season for the first time since 2006.

The Tar Heels have averaged just 12 points per outing during their skid after last week’s 20-14 defeat against Virginia, and their only win has come against FCS foe Old Dominion. Virginia Tech will have a decided advantage at the quarterback spot, as Josh Jackson leads all FBS freshmen with 1,700 passing yards and 13 touchdowns and is second in passer rating (158.2), while North Carolina will give LSU transfer Brandon Harris his second start of the season Saturday.

ABOUT NORTH CAROLINA (1-6, 0-4 ACC)

Harris replaced Chazz Surratt last week and completed only 7-of-18 passes for 46 yards with three interceptions. The offensive highlight last week was 5-9 freshman Michael Carter, who ran for a season-high 157 yards and two touchdowns, including 127 yards and both of his scores in the third quarter as the Tar Heels came back from a 10-0 halftime deficit. Jackson, whose TD passes are the most ever by a Virginia Tech freshman, needs 141 yards to overtake Michael Vick’s freshman record for passing yards (1,840 in 1999) and is looking forward to attacking a defense that is surrendering 31 points and 461 yards per contest.

ABOUT VIRGINIA TECH (5-1, 1-1 ACC)

Jackson leads the ACC in passer rating (158.17), which is 13th in FBS, is third in the conference in total offense (309 yards per game) and fifth in passing yards per game (283.3). Wide receiver Cam Phillips, who ranks second in Tech history with 207 catches and third in receiving yards with 2,671, is hopeful to return after leaving the Boston College game with a foot sprain. Led by defensive backs Brandon Facyson, Greg Stroman and Adonis Alexander, opponents are completing just 44 percent of its passes for 387 yards with only one TD in three home games this season, and the defense is second in the ACC and seventh in FBS in scoring defense (13.7 points).

Wake Forest Demon Deacons vs Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Georgia Tech is two one-point losses away from being undefeated on the season, but the Yellow Jackets enter Saturday’s home contest with Wake Forest (7:30 p.m. ET on ESPNU) with no time to wonder what could have been. The Yellow Jackets face a Wake Forest team that threw a scare into Clemson before having its bye last week, and Georgia Tech’s remaining schedule features matchups with the No. 8-ranked Tigers, No. 14 Virginia Tech, Virginia and No. 3 Georgia.

The Demon Deacons started the season 4-0 before suffering a pair of losses to Clemson and Florida State, and begin a pivotal stretch in which Wake Forest plays three of its next four games on the road. Wake Forest quarterback John Wolford, who missed the Clemson game with a shoulder injury, and running back Cade Carney (rib) are expected back for Saturday.

ABOUT WAKE FOREST (4-2, 1-2 ACC)

Wolford has completed 63.2 percent of his passes this season with eight touchdowns and only one interception, while rushing for four touchdowns and 6.3 yards per carry. Redshirt freshman receiver Greg Dortch ranks second in the ACC and 19th nationally with 136 all-purpose yards per game, finishing with 156 yards against the Tigers. Wake Forest’s defense is surrendering only 16.7 points per game, third the conference and 12th in the country.

ABOUT GEORGIA TECH (3-2, 2-1 ACC)

The Yellow Jackets scored fewer than 28 points last week for the first time in nine games, but still lead the ACC and rank third in the nation in rushing yards per game (362). Quarterback TaQuon Marshall has combined for 14 touchdowns (nine rushing, five passing) and leads the team in rushing, but was held to just 18 yards against the Hurricanes. Georgia Tech has allowed opponents to convert third downs just 22.4 percent of the time, ranking second in the nation.

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Posted in CFB

NCAA Football 2017 Season

ACC Coastal Division Preview

Miami won the coastal division last year and there is little doubt that they won’t repeat that success this year. Virginia Tech are their closest competition for top spot. Georgia Tech and Pitt are the dark horses of this division. Anything can happen this year in the division. The new season of fantasy college football kicks off Saturday August 26 at FanPicks.

Miami Hurricanes

If Miami finds a quarterback and the secondary settles down, this could be a special year. The Hurricanes have a favorable schedule that includes a tough test early — Florida State in Week 3 — and home/road balance the rest of the way. With the rest of the ACC Coastal rebuilding, the Hurricanes should be able to compete for the division title with an outstanding defense and an offense that does just enough. If QB N’Kosi Perry arrives early — some inside the program compare him to Deshaun Watson or Lamar Jackson — expectations in South Florida will skyrocket.

Virginia Tech Hokies

Coach Justin Fuente had plenty of success after succeeding the legendary Frank Beamer as Virginia Tech’s coach, returning the school to its 10-win standard, claiming the Coastal Division title for the first time since 2011 and giving Clemson all it could handle in the ACC title game. Now comes the harder part: restoring the Hokies to their former mantle as ACC champions. The offensive exodus will challenge this team, particularly early, but Hokies fans hope a full year in the new system, several key returning pieces and Fuente’s offensive acumen can offset some of the loss of talent. It helps to have associate coach Bud Foster’s always-trusty defense. In a Coastal Division that doesn’t figure to have a clear-cut frontrunner, there are plenty of reasons to believe Virginia Tech has as good a chance as anybody.

Pittsburgh Panthers

Pitt made headlines by defeating national champion Clemson and Big Ten champ Penn State last season. The question is: What can it do for an encore?

Despite the loss of 12 starters, and a schedule that features back-to-back games with Penn State and Oklahoma State, head coach Pat Narduzzi believes the wins will keep coming. Based on his first two seasons and a couple of strong recruiting classes, there is reason to believe Narduzzi can produce another solid year for the Panthers.

North Carolina Tar Heels

Hopes were high a year ago, but the Tar Heels fell short in their quest to reach the ACC Championship Game for the second year in a row. While the Coastal Division race remains as unpredictable as ever, UNC probably has too much uncertainty to be considered a legitimate threat. Are there enough playmakers on offense? Can the graduate transfers provide a big lift immediately? Can the defense become an asset instead of a liability? And is it possible that the team hold its own on special teams? The Tar Heels have enough talent to earn a fifth consecutive postseason berth, but doing so probably won’t be easy.

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Something clicked midway through 2016. The Yellow Jackets finished strong, posting a 9–4 season including a win at Georgia that should give them momentum in a division in which the top programs are all losing multiple key players. With eight returning defensive starters and nine on offense, there are some proven, experienced ingredients. But replacing Justin Thomas, a highly productive three-year starter at quarterback, may not be that simple. And on defense, the front six has some intriguing young players but no clear-cut difference makers or vocal leaders. How Georgia Tech fills those personnel holes will likely determine whether it wins the Coastal for a fifth time in head coach Paul Johnson’s decade on the flats or has to sweat reaching bowl eligibility.

Virginia Cavaliers

With a track record of success at BYU, a reputation for instilling order and accountability, and methods and metrics straight out of a business management text, head coach Bronco Mendenhall seemed to have an answer for every contingency when he arrived at Virginia, playfully warning fans not to make travel plans during bowl season.

Reality hit home when the season started, however, and by the end of a 2–10 campaign, Mendenhall admitted he’d underestimated the scope of the rebuilding project. Expectations have been re-calibrated, with Mendenhall cautioning that a turnaround could take a while. After laying the cultural foundation last season, he’s turning his attention to improving the execution that was so woefully lacking.

With a tighter on-field operation and a fair amount of talent returning, Virginia could be better, but fans likely won’t need to alter their bowl season travel plans just yet.

Duke Blue Devils

For an example of how far Duke football has come, one needs look no further than last season. In the decade since he arrived in Durham, head coach David Cutcliffe turned what had been a football wasteland into a program that reached four straight bowl games, briefly cracked the top 25 and made great strides in recruiting, facilities and visibility. So when the 2016 squad stumbled through a season defined by injuries, bad breaks and head-scratching losses, oddly enough, it felt out of character.

This season, the Blue Devils should have a chance to get back to a more familiar Cutcliffe-era script. Quarterback Daniel Jones should give the offense a dynamic leader and, if the defense can find answers, the Blue Devils have every reason to believe they can make strides and compete for a bowl bid in a Coastal Division that lacks a clear hierarchy.

Posted in CFB