Matt Patton is the RTC Correspondent for the ACC.
Predicted Order of Finish
- 1. Duke (15-1)
- 2. Virginia Tech (12-4)
- T3. North Carolina (10-6)
- T3. NC State (10-6)
- 5. Florida State (9-7)
- 6. Maryland (9-7)
- 7. Clemson (8-8)
- 8. Miami (7-9)
- 9. Boston College (5-11)
- 10. Wake Forest (4-12)
- 11. Georgia Tech (4-12)
- 12. Virginia (3-13)
All-Conference Team (key stats from last season in parentheses)
- G: Malcolm Delaney, Virginia Tech (20.2 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 4.5 APG)
- G: Nolan Smith, Duke (17.4 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 3.0 APG)
- F: Kyle Singler (POY), Duke (17.7 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 2.4 APG)
- F: Harrison Barnes, UNC (26.1 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 3.1 SPG for Ames High School)
- C: Tracy Smith, NC State (16.5 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1.1 APG)
Chris Singleton (F), Florida State (10.2 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 2.2 APG)
Harrison Barnes (F, UNC) and Kyrie Irving (G, Duke).
Here’s the catch. Barnes might be the better player statistically, and he should have an unbelievable season, but if Duke’s repeat hopes rest on Irving’s shoulders, I’m not sure how he couldn’t be an impact newcomer. Both have NBA scouts fawning over them.
Kyrie Irving (left) and Harrison Barnes have sky-high potential, but how will they do in their respective coaches' systems? (Larry Busacca/Getty Images)
What You Need To Know
People will probably say the ACC is having a down year again, but statistically, in the ACC’s “down season” last year, it finished as the highest ranked conference by Ken Pomeroy (just above the Big 12). Even though the conference has won five of the last ten NCAA championships, people will argue it’s in decline after perennial contender UNC had a devastating season and Duke caught a few breaks on the road to the National Championship. That said, the ACC will not be the country’s deepest conference this season, but that doesn’t mean it will be irrelevant beyond the Blue Devils and Tar Heels. The ACC has five recruiting classes in ESPN’s top 25, which should ease the loss of important conference players like Greivis Vasquez, Jon Scheyer, Sylven Landesberg, Trevor Booker and Al-Farouq Aminu.
Duke (NCAA #1 Seed) – Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s squad should not only be favored to win the conference, they should be favored to win the NCAA Tournament. Duke returns two Preseason All-Americans in Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith from last year’s championship team. Kyrie Irving is the highest-touted Duke recruit since Jason Williams, who led the Blue Devils to the 2001 title. Irving is also considered by scouts as the best true point guard of this class. Additionally, the Blue Devils picked up four-star power forward Joshua Hairston and Seth Curry (who averaged 20.2 PPG, 4.4 RPG and 2.3 APG in his freshman season at Liberty), both of whom should see lots of playing time. Duke loses three starters from last year’s team: Jon Scheyer (18.2 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 4.9 APG), Lance Thomas (4.8 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 0.9 APG), and Brian Zoubek (5.6 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 1.0 APG). Losing three starters would normally lower expectations for a team. But, if anything, this Duke team should be more talented than last year’s squad. According to Evan Daniels of Scout.com: three people who have watched Duke recently “are raving about their overall talent and Kyrie Irving.” If you’re looking for more praise (not likely), Dan Wetzel tweeted: “Keep hearing from NBA scouts who’ve seen Duke practice describe Devils as ‘scary’ ‘complete’ ‘even better.’” He followed that up rebutting the pro-Coach K media saying “These are NBA scouts raving about Duke, not supposedly pro-Coach K media.” And last but not least, Luke Winn ranked the Blue Devil backcourt first in the nation and the frontcourt second (after Purdue, whose loss of Robbie Hummel almost certainly drops them a couple of spots). Long story short, Duke is going to be very, very good this year, especially if Mason Plumlee has the breakout season people are expecting. Read the rest of this entry »