Upstart North Carolina State visits No. 3 Virginia
Less than one month into the ACC basketball season, there is a lone team atop the standings with an undefeated conference record.
That team is Virginia.
The third-ranked Cavaliers continue to be a factor in the national landscape. After dispatching North Carolina and Syracuse at home, they close out a three-game homestand against upstart North Carolina State (12-5, 2-2 ACC) on Sunday.
Already with an early-season win over Arizona, the Wolfpack have won back-to-back games over ranked opponents after knocking off rival Duke last Saturday, and following that up with a 78-77 win over No. 19 Clemson on Thursday night.
"Could N.C. State win another good game after coming off a big game against Duke?" N.C. State coach Kevin Keatts asked after his team's win over Clemson. "I thought we answered the bell."
The Wolfpack continue to play well at home as they have compiled an 11-1 record in Raleigh so far this season. Unfortunately for N.C. State, all of its games aren't played at home and it has lost four games away from PNC Arena heading into a hostile environment in Charlottesville.
Virginia (15-1, 4-0) owns an 11-0 record at John Paul Jones Arena this season and is currently riding a seven-game winning streak.
"We've got some toughness as a group," Virginia senior guard Devon Hall said after his team's win over Syracuse. "We'll learn from the mistakes we've made and we will continue to get better."
If the Cavaliers continue to get better, that will be a scary thought for the rest of the ACC. Virginia currently is the only remaining unbeaten team in conference play and has held all four of its conference opponents to 61 points or less. Virginia is allowing just 53 points per game which ranks first nationally.
Seven of Virginia's opponents this season have been held under 50 points and the Cavaliers have yet to have a team shoot 50 percent or better against them this season. N.C. State, like many teams do, will try to push the tempo against Virginia's pack-line defense. The Wolfpack average 83 points per game, which ranks 34th in the country.
Five players average at least 10 points per game for Keatts' squad, led by Allerik Freeman's 15.2 points per game.
Virginia is 10-0 against N.C. State in its last 10 regular-season matchups. The Wolfpack haven't beaten the Cavaliers in their last seven tries at John Paul Jones Arena and Virginia has held the Wolfpack to 55 points or fewer in their last five meetings.
All signs point to another Virginia triumph over N.C. State in the team's 147th all-time meeting, but the Wolfpack have proven to be giant killers this season.
A win over Virginia would give N.C. State its third consecutive victory over a Top-25 opponent and fourth this season. It would also push the Wolfpack to over .500 in conference play. The Cavaliers are 44-4 at home in ACC games over the past six seasons.
Updated January 13, 2018