|With Lorenzo Brown and three other starters back, N.C. State has its eyes on an ACC title. (Getty Images)|
For much of last season, it didn't look it was going to be a vintage campaign for the ACC. However, once Florida State started playing well and North Carolina State made a late run, the league ended up with five bids to the NCAA tournament. N.C. State was the only team to outperform its seed, as North Carolina was bounced before the Final Four and No. 15 seed Lehigh upset Duke in the first round. Next season, Tobacco Road will control the top of the ACC, with the middle and bottom of the ACC needing to work their way up.
1. North Carolina reloads after NBA exodus: Harrison Barnes, John Henson and Kendall Marshall all decided to leave the Tar Heels after getting bounced in the Elite Eight by Kansas, while Tyler Zeller used up his eligibility. Roy Williams has plenty of unproven weapons at his disposal, namely Reggie Bullock, P.J. Hairston and James Michael McAdoo. If those three take the expected step forward, Chapel Hill has another dangerous team on its hands.
2. Turnover in Blacksburg: For the first time since 2003, there is a new head coach at Virginia Tech, as head coach Seth Greenberg was fired and replaced by assistant James Johnson. Since Johnson was hired, the Hokies have already lost talented freshman Dorian Finney-Smith and top recruit Montrezl Harrell. Virginia Tech had its moments last season, but there could be struggles in Johnson's first year at the helm.
3. North Carolina State looks to carry over March momentum: With North Carolina and Duke losing plenty of firepower, North Carolina State has emerged as a potential favorite to win the league. The Wolfpack made a run to the Sweet 16 as a No. 11 seed, and return four starters. Lorenzo Brown and C.J. Leslie are two of the best in the ACC, and a recruiting class that ranks among the best in the country will provide immediate help.
4. The stars are changing: The ACC as a whole is headed for a rebuilding season. The top of the league has multiple questions, and it remains to be seen if any are legitimate Final Four threats at this point. Moreover, the entire All-ACC first team is gone, as are two more players from the second team. There are several candidates for breakout seasons, though, and eight top-100 recruits are entering the fold. Youth will be a theme of the ACC this season.
|Big question that remains|
What is the status of Andre Dawkins?
Back in April, rumors regarding Dawkins' future in a Duke uniform were running rampant. The Blue Devils released a statement saying that there is a possibility of him redshirting in the fall, but no decision has been made yet. Dawkins is dealing with the grief of his sister dying in a car accident in 2009. On the court, Dawkins is an integral part of Duke's perimeter attack, because of his shooting ability. There are already plenty of questions about Duke's backcourt; Dawkins' availability adds another one.
|NBA Draft report|
Could've gone and did: Harrison Barnes (North Carolina), John Henson (North Carolina), Kendall Marshall (North Carolina), Austin Rivers (Duke), Terrell Stoglin (Maryland)
Could've gone but stayed: C.J. Leslie (North Carolina State), James Michael McAdoo (North Carolina), Mason Plumlee (Duke)
Coming: Alex Dragicevich (Boston College from Notre Dame), Evan Smotrycz (Maryland from Michigan), Logan Aronhalt (Maryland from Albany), Ralston Turner (North Carolina State from LSU), Anthony Gill (Virginia from South Carolina), Adam Smith (Virginia Tech from UNC-Wilmington)
Going: Matt Humphrey (Boston College), Gabe Moten (Boston College), Michael Gbinije (Duke to Syracuse), Antwan Space (Florida State to Texas A&M), Nate Hucks (Georgia Tech to Florida Gulf Coast), Glen Rice Jr. (Georgia Tech), Ashton Pankey (Maryland), Mychal Parker (Maryland to Loyola Md.), Tyler Harris (North Carolina State), Deshawn Painter (North Carolina State to Old Dominion), Jaqawn Raymond (North Carolina State to Middle Tennessee State), K.T. Harrell (Virginia to Auburn), Dorian Finney-Smith (Virginia Tech), J.T. Thompson (Virginia Tech), Tony Chennault (Wake Forest to Villanova), Carson Desrosiers (Wake Forest to Providence), Anthony Fields (Wake Forest to Bradley)
|Team commentary in 140 characters or less|
|Ian Miller rules the show for the 'Noles. (US Presswire)|
Clemson: The Tigers have a deep recruiting class coming in this season, but Devin Booker and Milton Jennings are the only consistent scorers back.
Duke: Rasheed Sulaimon could be a top-10 frosh, but the Blue Devils have questions on the perimeter. Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly have to step up.
Florida State: As usual, the Seminoles have a ton of size on the roster. PG Ian Miller is the key, while a healthy Terrance Shannon would help down low.
Georgia Tech: The key here will be freshman big Robert Carter, who will get every chance to make a major impact. Five starters also return for Tech.
Maryland: Is loss of Terrell Stoglin addition by subtraction? Terps have plenty of young weapons, but the frosh might need time. Nick Faust is ready.
Miami: Hurricanes might have most depth in the league. A full season of Reggie Johnson is huge, but Kenny Kadji and Durand Scott need consistency.
North Carolina: Heels are talented, but have questions. Is Marcus Paige ready at PG? Are P.J. Hairston, James McAdoo and Reggie Bullock ready to break out?
North Carolina State: Pack have two all-league players, four returning starters and a national top-five recruiting class. On paper, might be best in the league.
Virginia: The loss of Mike Scott is huge, but don't expect Tony Bennett's troops to drop too far. PG Jontel Evans could have a breakout season.
Virginia Tech: New coach James Johnson has some solid pieces back, namely Erick Green, but the roster is thin and Johnson will have a steep learning curve.
Wake Forest: Travis McKie and C.J. Harris can fill it up, but only four scholarship players return. Codi Miller-McIntyre is best of a deep frosh class.
|Early guess at the top five in the league|
1. North Carolina State
2. North Carolina
5. Florida State
|Early guess at the all-conference team|
G: Lorenzo Brown (North Carolina State)
G: Michael Snaer (Florida State)
F: C.J. Leslie (North Carolina State)
F: James Michael McAdoo (North Carolina)
C: Mason Plumlee (Duke)
The top three or four of the ACC should be very solid next season, with three North Carolina schools battling at the top and Miami looking to make a move. However, the bottom of the league will drag it down on a national level. Is there any team that can make a move to the upper division and contend for an NCAA tournament bid? There is lots of unproven talent throughout the league, so we could be in store for an unpredictable season.