ACC Preview Revisited – Part Two

Posted by mpatton on January 2nd, 2014

As the non-conference portion of the 2013-14 college basketball season nears its conclusion and conference play looms large in the New Year, the ACC has seen its share of ups and downs along an uneven early stretch. While some of its teams (Duke, Syracuse) appear to be capable of the preseason hype bestowed upon them, others have been a mixture of confounding (North Carolina), shockingly underwhelming (Boston College, Maryland) and utterly but pleasantly surprising (Florida State). The conference some were talking about being the greatest college basketball had ever witnessed hasn’t shown the depth and consistency in non-conference play to justify that acoolade, but there is still a long way to go as this new-look league embarks into ACC play. Here’s a look back at the RTC preseason ACC rankings as voted upon by the writers and how those teams have performed thus far and look to perform as the season progresses.

To review Part One of this feature, click here.

6. Maryland (8-5)

The continued emergence of Roddy Peters bodes well for Maryland. (USA TODAY Sports)

The continued emergence of Roddy Peters bodes well for Maryland. (USA TODAY Sports)

  • Signature Wins: Providence, at Boston College
  • Signature Losses: Connecticut, Boston University
  • Reasons for Optimism: Seth Allen is back, which should take pressure off of freshman Roddy Peters. But it’s also worth noting that Peters looks like he’ll be the real deal eventually. He’s already the team’s best distributor and his ability to draw contact in the lane should make him valuable going forward. Evan Smotrycz and Jake Layman make a pair of sharpshooting forwards who are a horrible match-up for anyone. Last but not least, the Terrapins already have a conference road win under their belt.
  • Reasons for Pessimism: What looked to be a great one-two punch in the frontcourt has turned into an awful start for Shaquille Cleare and nothing special from Charles Mitchell. Also, home losses to Boston University and Oregon State raise serious questions about the team’s consistency. The team often loses sight of its strengths on offense (or commits needless turnovers), which leads to scoring droughts and opponent runs.
  • Forecast: The losses essentially come down to defense: When the Terrapins hold opponents below a point per possession, they’re 6-0 (not counting Tulsa or George Washington, both of which effectively scored a point per possession). But when Maryland fails to limit its opponents on offense, the team is 1-4. This team needs to finish in the top three of the standings to sniff the NCAA Tournament, but the NIT should be in the cards with a strong conference showing.

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The Best Of 2013 In College Basketball

Posted by Bennet Hayes on December 31st, 2013

With 2013 winding to a close, it’s time to take a look back at the year that was in college basketball. There were too many memorable moments to recount ‘em all, but here’s our honor roll for the last calendar year — a list laced with games, plays, and performances that will long struggle to escape our memory banks.

Best Game: Michigan vs. Kansas, NCAA Tournament, Sweet Sixteen

Trey Burke's Last-Gasp Sweet-16 Heroics Will Surely Be One Of 2013's Prevailing Memories

Trey Burke’s Last-Gasp Sweet-16 Heroics Will Surely Be One Of 2013’s Prevailing Memories

Gonzaga-Butler may have given us the best final seconds of regulation (see below), and Louisville-Notre Dame definitely donated the most riveting 25 minutes of action after regulation, but when talking games of the year, Michigan vs. Kansas was simply unmatched when it came to elevated stakes and elite talent. We won’t soon forget Trey Burke’s comeback-capping, game-tying three to force overtime, but it would be a shame if that’s all that lived on from this classic. Sweet Sixteen match-ups between national title contenders don’t come around every March; would you have bet against Kansas to get to Championship Monday if Burke’s three hadn’t found the bottom of the net on that Friday night?

Honorable Mention: Gonzaga at Butler, Louisville at Notre Dame.

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Playing Secret Santa With All 15 ACC Teams

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on December 24th, 2013

Let’s have some fun with a traditional office activity going into the Christmas Holiday. We’ll pretend each of this season’s ACC teams are in the drawing hat, and give our best advice to anyone picking out gifts for each, based on current needs. So here goes the list for each ACC team in alphabetical order.

presents

  • Boston College (4-8) – Probably the easiest team to shop for because they need so much. In fact anything defensively would be much appreciated. There isn’t one thing that the Eagles do well on the defensive end of the court, as proven by their current rank of #340 out of 351 teams in raw defensive efficiency. So they won’t be picky – they could use somebody to force turnovers, someone to grab a defensive rebound, or anyone who can make somebody on the other team miss a shot more than just occasionally.
  • Clemson (8-3) – The Tigers are all set on the defensive end but could use some help on offense. While better shooters are the obvious gift, a more meaningful option may be to find a way to get Clemson to the free throw line more often. They are wasting their 77 percent foul shooting average by ranking only #285 in the nation in free throw rate. Read the rest of this entry »
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Three Thoughts from Vanderbilt’s Win over Georgia Tech

Posted by David Changas on December 21st, 2013

David Changas is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report after Saturday’s Vanderbilt-Georgia Tech game in Nashville.

Vanderbilt moved to 7-3 on Saturday with a 76-63 home win over struggling Georgia Tech. The loss dropped the Yellow Jackets to 8-4. Here are three thoughts from courtside.

Kevin Stallings Got a Solid Win over an ACC Team Today (AP/Wade Payne)

Kevin Stallings Got a Solid Win over an ACC Team Today (AP/Wade Payne)

  1. A game of runs.  Georgia Tech was clearly in control, leading 31-17 with 6:02 left in the first half. The Yellow Jackets had taken the less-than-capacity crowd out of the game and looked to be poised to run away with it. From that point, however, Vanderbilt scored 39 of the next 49 points over a span of 16:37, and it was the Commodores who won this one going away.”I thought the key to the game was the last seven minutes of the first half,” Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. “When you get down [big] and you’re coming off two games in a row where you hadn’t played well, things can go a lot of different ways.” Given Georgia Tech’s balance and experience, and Vanderbilt’s lack thereof, it was a surprising turnaround. After November losses to Dayton, Ole Miss, and St. John’s, the Yellow Jackets had built some momentum with three straight wins, but could not build on it in their first of four straight road contests. Fifth-year senior center Daniel Miller scored 11 points in the game’s first 10 minutes and appeared to ready for a big night, but finished with only 16 points and essentially was a non-factor the rest of the way. Georgia Tech’s failure to take advantage of Vanderbilt’s relatively thin interior – the Commodores recently lost starting center Josh Henderson for the season – was surprising, especially given its early success. Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory was disappointed in Miller’s supporting cast of Robert Carter and Kammeon Holsey. “Daniel was tremendous. We need to get some other guys to step up.” Read the rest of this entry »
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ACC M5: 12.04.13 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on December 4th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. John Gasaway’s Blog: Even though the Big Ten/ACC Challenge is halfway finished, this primer is worth a read (in conjunction with our previews with the Big Ten microsite, of course). The most interesting piece of data suggests why the ACC dominated the first decade of the event: At first, luck played a heavy role; but the ACC was much stronger in terms of NCAA seeding throughout the early 2000s.
  2. Tar Heel Blog: Shocking… well… no one, Roy Williams was not pleased with his team’s performance against UAB. As usual, Williams placed the brunt of the blame on himself, although he’s clearly concerned with his team’s effort:

    “I’ve always felt like I should coach execution. I shouldn’t have to coach effort. [...] It’s my fault. I’ve got to get them to play harder.”

    We’ll see if a fired-up Williams (and an unusually fired-up Hubert Davis) makes a difference going into North Carolina’s match-up tonight at Michigan State.

  3. Hampton Roads Daily Press: And now, the game everyone’s been waiting for! That’s right it will be Virginia vs. Wisconsin in the battle of Dick Bennett proteges. This is a game Tony Bennett desperately needs to win. For one, it’s in Charlottesville where the Cavaliers have been elite and unbeatable –Virginia Commonwealth, notwithstanding. But it’s also a chance for a marquee non-conference win that will look good in March. If you’re looking for an exhaustive look at the quest-for-40 game, Streaking the Lawn has you covered.
  4. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Georgia Tech pulled off quite the comeback to beat previously-undefeated Illinois at home last night. The Yellow Jackets closed the game on a 19-4 run that highlighted their excellent defense over the span of more than six minutes. That’s how to close out a game. Georgia Tech, like Boston College, looked better on paper than it’s played so far this season, and while Illinois may not turn out to be a world-beater this season, the game may put the Yellow Jackets back on track. Chris Bolden still needs to get out of his slump, though.
  5. Youtube: I’m not sure this needs any introduction — it’s a Jim Boeheim rap. Just watch.

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Key Questions in the Tuesday Big Ten/ACC Challenge Early Games

Posted by Jonathan Batuello on December 3rd, 2013

It’s back. The Big Ten/ACC Challenge starts tonight. The ACC is currently ahead 10-3-1 in the event, but the Big Ten hasn’t lost a challenge in four years with last season giving us the lone tie. This year’s match-ups provide plenty of compelling games to consider and includes the first time that Pittsburgh, Notre Dame and Syracuse will compete as well as Maryland’s last run with the ACC. With that in mind, Matt Patton and Lathan Wells from the ACC microsite and Jonathan Batuello and Brendan Brody from the B1G microsite got together on Monday to answer some key questions concerning this year’s Challenge. This post will preview the three early Tuesday night games, with a second post previewing the late games coming this afternoon. Wednesday will have a similar construct. Also be sure to check-out both microsites over the next few days for further reaction and analysis as the Challenge gets underway.

Indiana @ Syracuse, 7:15 PM, ESPN

Indiana and Syracuse Match Up Again, This Time at the Dome

Indiana and Syracuse Match Up Again, This Time at the Dome

B1G: The Challenge’s first game is a rematch of the Sweet Sixteen game last year. It ended the Hoosiers’ hopes for a national title, but this year’s game has plenty of new faces. This year’s Indiana team is extremely athletic, so how does Syracuse match up against them?

ACC: Very well. One of the things that makes Syracuse’s zone so dangerous is its length. The zone hides a lot of athletic mismatches on defense, but expect the Orange to be able to hang with most of Indiana’s roster. Offensively the most important thing is for Tyler Ennis to feel comfortable. On the other hand, Tom Crean’s history against the zone is well known. How do you think he changes his game plan to handle a talented Syracuse team and its zone?

B1G: Crean would love nothing more than to get his “zone struggles” monkey off his back heading back to Syracuse. Honestly, though, IU will have a different game plan than last year because it has a different team. Last season, IU didn’t hit from deep in the NCAA Tournament against the zone, but this season it doesn’t have the players to simply shoot Syracuse out of it. Indiana will likely struggle shooting the ball so it needs to do what a fellow B1G microsite writer talked about a few weeks ago – rebound. The Hoosiers will have to get some free points off putbacks to have a chance to win this game. On that note, Indiana is an absolute monster on the boards this season, outrebounding its opponents 50-32. Syracuse is only averaging 36 boards a game itself, so is there anyway the Orange can hang with the Hoosiers on the glass?

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Reviewing the Performance of ACC Teams in Feast Week: Part II

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on December 3rd, 2013

Today we will review the final six early season tournaments involving ACC teams. To see the recap we did covering the first seven such events, click here. The ACC completed a successful Feast Week with two more championships giving the conference a total of five titles in 13 tournaments. This performance should give the ACC some momentum going into this week’s ACC/Big Ten Challenge. With another good week, perhaps the conference will overcome the negative impact from some of those bad early non-conference losses.

Syracuse Wins EA Maui Invitational for the Third Time. (Photo: mauiinvitational.com)

Syracuse Wins the EA Maui Invitational for the Third Time.
(Photo: mauiinvitational.com)

Syracuse became the second ACC newcomer to win an early-season tournament by beating #18 Baylor 74-67 in the finals of the EA Sports Maui Invitational on Wednesday night. That followed wins over Minnesota, 75-67, and California, 92-81. Senior C.J. Fair was named the tournament MVP while averaging 18 points for the three games and tallying 24 in the finals. Also impressive was freshman point guard Tyler Ennis, who scored 28 in the semifinals over Cal, and had an outstanding 18 to two assist-to-turnover ratio for the tournament. With the Orange’s third Maui championship along with Pittsburgh’s title in the Progressive Legends Classic, the new ACC schools are serving notice that they are ready to compete at the top of their new conference.

Duke did not fare as well in the other marquee Feast Week event, the NIT Season Tip-Off in New York’s Madison Square Garden. After beating Alabama 74-64 in Wednesday’s semifinals, the Blue Devils fell to #4 Arizona, 72-66, in Friday’s championship game. Coming into the week Duke’s defense had been struggling mightily and was the focus for improvement by Mike Kzyzewski. The Devils did look much better on that end of the court against good competition, but another glaring issue has not been resolved. Duke is still searching for production from its primary big man position – Josh Hairston and Amile Jefferson combined for only two points in a total of 69 minutes over the two games.

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ACC/Big Ten Challenge Presents Giant Opportunity For Michigan

Posted by Bennet Hayes on December 2nd, 2013

What to Make of Michigan Heading to Duke in the Headliner of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge

Nobody ever said life after Trey Burke was going to be easy. Despite entering the season with both a top 10 ranking and preseason All-American (again) to lead the way, John Beilein had to know that this group of Wolverines would be a work in progress. Gone was not only the transcendent Burke, but also backcourt mate Tim Hardaway, Jr., a highly accomplished player in his own right. Also of concern: The fact that this year’s preseason All-American, Mitch McGary, entered the season on the mend. The bruising sophomore is recovering from a back injury, and even with a (relatively) healthy back a season ago, he had averaged only 7.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game as he got acclimated to college basketball. Was he really ready to deliver All-American type production? Every team entered this season with question marks, but Michigan faced as many as any of their preseason top-10 cohabitants.

Michigan And Mitch McGary Will Attempt To Reassert Themselves At Cameron Indoor On Tuesday Night

Michigan And Mitch McGary Will Attempt To Reassert Themselves At Cameron Indoor On Tuesday Night

The Wolverines are now seven games into the season, and the top-10 ranking is gone. The same cannot be said for those pesky preseason questions. Michigan is 5-2 on the year, with an overtime victory over Florida State ranking as its lone victory of consequence (seriously, the average Pomeroy rating for the other four Wolverine conquests is 297). The back injury ultimately caused McGary to miss just two games, but his production since returning has hardly been like that of an All-American: 8.2 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 1.0 BPG in 25 minutes per game. I’m not in the habit of judging a guy off of five post-injury games, but the jury remains out on whether McGary can live up to those expansive preseason expectations.

Nor has a verdict been offered on the Michigan point guard situation. Nobody expected Derrick Walton to become Trey Burke, but the freshman has averaged nearly as many turnovers (2.4 per game) as assists (3.3 per game), while also ceding crunch time minutes to backup Spike Albrecht. In the two Michigan losses (to Iowa State and Charlotte), Walton has averaged just 19 minutes a game. Clearly John Beilein is not ready to fully hand over the reins to the talented youngster, but like McGary, there’s still plenty of time for Walton to grow into his expected role.

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ACC M5: 11.22.13 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on November 22nd, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. College Basketball Talk: Huge props to Florida State’s Leonard Hamilton. I think we’ll look back on yesterday’s game seeing that Virginia Commonwealth was somewhat overrated, but the Seminoles gave the Rams an old-fashioned woodshed beating in Puerto Rico. Hamilton’s team has gotten back to its defensive principles this season, and the Seminoles dominated the game from a shot selection standpoint. This team plays smart basketball and is undefeated with a road win against a decent Central Florida team and last night’s whipping of a very good VCU squad. Maybe it’ll turn out to be a flash in the pan, but right now Florida State has the best resume in the ACC by a mile.
  2. ESPN: While this article was only published yesterday, I imagine it was written before Boston College got off to a 1-4 start. Now that start includes a really close loss to Connecticut (Olivier Hanlan missed a layup to tie the game with 11 seconds left), but it also includes a puzzling home loss to Toledo. I still like this team’s makeup and think the Eagles will be a tough game for everyone in the conference. I really think the Eagles have struggled learning to play as a front-runner rather than a plucky underdog. But Steve Donahue has to turn things around quickly — it’s very difficult to make the Big Dance after such a slow start.
  3. Hampton Roads Daily Press: Duke athletic director Kevin White is “unabashedly bullish” on an ACC-centric cable channel in the near future (circa 2016). I tend to disagree. While the network may provide a short-term financial boon, I think the cable TV market is moving quickly towards an online a la carte service. This isn’t to say having a talented and devoted production team wouldn’t be beneficial, but everyone points to the Big Ten Network with its high revenues when I believe it may prove to be a hindrance as people begin to purchase television differently. This will be an interesting story to follow over the next few years.
  4. Washington Post: Jarrell Eddie apparently learned a lot as Erick Green‘s roommate last season. And while the advice he got isn’t mind-blowing, it’s interesting to see how businesslike Green was in his approach to the game: “You’ve got to be in the gym all the time.” The Hokies will only go as far this year as Eddie will take them. He has the potential to be a very good scorer, and as one of two seniors on the squad it’s up to him to set the standards for the team. He admits to being complacent last year (citing it as a reason for his inconsistency), but any complacency this year will prove far worse, as Green isn’t around anymore to save the day.
  5. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: With struggling attendance, Georgia Tech is trying some creative marketing tactics to get people to come to its games. I don’t understand this at all, but if you buy your ticket through LivingSocial, you get to shoot a free throw after the game (along with a more sensical hot dog and soda). The free throw isn’t for a contest or anything. Presumably you just wait in line with the other people who sat in the upper deck with LivingSocial tickets and then line one up from the charity stripe afterward. I don’t understand it, but might as well give it a shot, right?
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The ACC’s Soft Middle Tier: Time to Panic Yet?

Posted by Chris Kehoe on November 14th, 2013

We are less than one week into the start of the 2013-14 college basketball season and the median of the ACC is nearing panic mode. Maybe not quite yet, but things certainly could have started better for the NCAA’s mightiest conference. To date, N.C. State has lost to Cincinnati by 11, Virginia lost to in-state rival VCU (displaying the power shift between traditional Virginia basketball schools), Miami barely squeaked by Georgia Southern in overtime and posted an inexcusable overtime loss to St. Francis (NY), and Boston College suffered an opening defeat to Providence and followed that up with a 13-point shellacking at the hands of a game Massachusetts squad. What does this all mean for the ‘almighty’ ACC as the nation’s premier basketball conference? Does this, for one, quiet the whispers of the ACC as the greatest basketball conference of all-time?

Boston College

BC has little to celebrate after an 0-2 start (Michael Ivins/US Presswire)

A lot of a conference’s overall reputation and greatness has to be attributed to its depth and the overall quality of teams across the board. Now VCU happens to be a top-25 team that has largely surpassed the Virginia basketball program of late under Shaka Smart, but a team that has ACC title aspirations and is laden with senior leaders needs to win games versus A-10 programs, especially if it doesn’t wish to find itself on the bubble again. N.C. State is in what most people consider a rebuilding year under Mark Gottfried, but Cincinnati is not a powerhouse and the middle of the league must prove formidable for the ACC to solidify its place in history. Last Friday night, Maryland lost to a top-25 Connecticut team boasting one of the best backcourts in the nation by only a single point, but the Terps walked away with a close loss rather than gloating about a big win on their non-conference résumé. Miami wasn’t expected to have a great year after losing Kenny Kadji, Shane Larkin, Reggie Johnson, Durand Scott and the rest of its roster from last season, but losing to a NEC foe is a humbling step backward, to say the least.

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ACC M5: 11.13.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on November 13th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Hampton Roads Pilot: Virginia Tech athletic director Jim Weaver announced he will be stepping down at the end of the year due to health reasons. Weaver has Parkinson’s disease and needs both hips replaced. Weaver’s departure very much puts the Hokie administration in limbo, as the university is also currently looking for a president. The plan is to hire the president first, so he or she can give the go ahead on the athletic director. That’s the best case for stability. Though the turmoil in the administration may indirectly put some pressure on James Johnson, as the new athletic director may want to make his or her mark early.
  2. Atlanta Journal Constitution: Brian Gregory earned himself a one-year extension, which seems a show of tepid support from the relatively new athletic director, Mike Bobinski. A single year is nothing to clamor about, and it likely was the minimum required to help ease the minds of recruits and their parents. With the extension, Gregory is under contract until the end of the 2018 season (and if you do the math, next year’s class would be seniors in the final year of Gregory’s contract).
  3. Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician: Jim Boeheim is doing his best to temper expectations heading into the season. But as the author points out, Syracuse generally wins a whole lot of games and experiences success regardless of the players lost the previous season. But possibly more important when defining expectations for this year’s team is considering the hot streak–defensively–last year’s team went on to reach the Final Four. Syracuse didn’t look like a contender for much of the season, but things came together when it mattered most.
  4. Baltimore Sun: You would have thought an unranked Connecticut outrebounded Maryland by 30 in a rout based on Mark Turgeon‘s comments after the game. The Huskies outrebounded Turgeon’s team by three boards and won by one. More importantly, Maryland missed far more shots than its opponent. The Terrapins actually won (barely) the rebound percentage battle. Long story short, Turgeon may be upset with his team’s effort on the glass, but Maryland is still a good rebounding team.
  5. Keeping It Heel: Every day that passes without more concrete news is another day that fuels rumors that PJ Hairston may be permanently ineligible. What started as a message board rumor has quickly gained steam (and some legitimacy) yesterday. The story still doesn’t make a ton of sense, but apparently hinges on the fact that Hairston wasn’t entirely truthful with the NCAA or Roy Williams. The latter seems unlikely (why would he still be practicing if Williams was planning to kick him off the team), but the former is definitely in play considering the NCAA’s loose definition of evidence. Alexander Hines takes a look at the Tar Heels without Hairston, which would obviously be a huge blow.
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ACC Mega-Preview: Duke Tops Power Rankings

Posted by Matt Patton (@rise_and_fire) on November 8th, 2013

Over the last two weeks, we have previewed each team individually to go with several more articles to get you ready for ACC basketball starting later today. Links to the previews can be found in each of the preseason power rankings listed below. Also look for our preseason conference awards later which will publish later today.

ACC Basketball Twitter Must-Follows (Chris): 

  • Part I (general ACC tweeters)
  • Part II (Maryland, Clemson, Wake Forest, Boston College, Miami, Pittsburgh,  and Georgia Tech)
  • Part III (Virginia, Duke, Syracuse, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Florida State, North Carolina, and NC State)

Early Season Tournaments (Brad):

  • Part I (Boston College, Virginia Tech, and Clemson)
  • Part II (Florida State, North Carolina, Maryland, Pittsburgh, and Syracuse)
  • Part III (Duke, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, Virginia, and Miami)

Seven Nonconference Games to Watch (Brad)

PRESEASON POWER RANKINGS

Duke Blue Devils 1. Duke (75): Unanimous selection for the top spot, Coach K hopes this year’s more athletic group of players can thrive at a faster pace of play. Duke is a national contender this season.
Syracuse Orange 2. Syracuse (67): Their loaded front court and a legendary coach will help make seamless transition to the ACC, bringing their length and vaunted 2-3 zone along with them. Frosh point guard Tyler Ennis is the difference between a very good team and a great one.
North Carolina Tar Heels T3. North Carolina (64): The development of the young frontcourt will be key for a team with plenty of upside, but a daunting non-conference schedule and the suspensions of PJ Hairston and Leslie McDonald loom early.
Virginia Cavaliers T3. Virginia (64): ACC stars Joe Harris and Akil Mitchell are back in Charlottesville. If the point guard position has more offensive output than last season, this team has all the pieces to be an ACC contender.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish 5. Notre Dame (52)Mike Brey has to find a way to replace Jack Cooley‘s production in the post, but the Fighting Irish bring back one of the best backcourts in the ACC. The Fighting Irish look like a border-line top-25 team heading into the season.
Maryland Terrapins 6. Maryland (48): Losing Seth Allen for a spell and Alex Len to the lottery will hurt, but Dez Wells‘ brilliance and Maryland’s overall athleticism should propel them to new heights under Mark Turgeon assuming they can cut out some of their turnovers.
Boston College 7. Boston College (43): A veteran core and a bona fide star could take Boston College to the next level, provided Steve Donahue does something about the team’s dreadful defense. If Dennis Clifford is healthy, this team has a shot at the NCAA Tournament.
Pittsburgh Panthers 8. Pittsburgh (41): The Panthers have three solid returning starters to build around, but will need their new big men to make an immediate impact after Steven Adams’ surprising decision to bolt for the NBA Draft. Also how will the new officiating rules affect Jamie Dixon‘s style?
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 9. Georgia Tech (31): The tandem of sophomores Robert Carter, Jr. and Marcus Georges-Hunt will prove even more effective as the Yellow Jackets look to make strides, but their young core is a few years away from making noise. Tennessee transfer Trae Golden should be an upgrade over Mfon Udofia at point guard.
NC State Wolfpack 10. NC State (29): TJ Warren could be one of the most talented players in the conference, but there is an enormous amount of departed experience to replace in Raleigh. Mark Gottfried‘s talented group of freshmen will be expected to contribute early and often.
Florida State Seminoles 11. Florida State (27): The Seminoles need last year’s newcomers to all make a big leap this year even to stay in the upper middle of the ACC. The key is getting back to elite team defense, though Okaro White is one of the better returning offensive wings in the ACC.
Miami Hurricanes 12. Miami (23): The best thing returning for the Hurricanes is head coach Jim Larranaga, an expert at putting pieces together to form a solid team. Unfortunately, the pieces leave a lot to be desired. Belgian star Manu Lacomte may surprise ACC fans, though.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons 13. Wake Forest (19): For the first time since coming to Winston-Salem Jeff Bzdelik has experience, but do the Demon Deacons have the talent to finish above .500 and save his job? Conference expansion didn’t help.
Clemson Tigers 14. Clemson (11): A bad team is going to get worse as the program takes what is probably charitably going to be called “a rebuilding year.” Tune in for KJ McDaniels, whose shot-blocking makes him a good pick for ACC defensive player of the year.
Virginia Tech Hokies 15. Virginia Tech (6): Erick Green is gone, and there isn’t anyone stepping up to replace him on a team destined to rest in the ACC cellar this year. Things could be ugly for James Johnson‘s second season in Blacksburg.

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