The ACC was a dominant conference last year, with seven NCAA Tourney berths and the National Champion. There has been a large loss of talent this year. EVeryone already knows of the losses at UNC. Also, Jack McClinton and Toney Douglas, stars at lesser known basketball schools, are gone. I think this will be somewhat of a down year for the ACC because, in my opinon, there is no National Championship or Final Four caliber team. This is still a great conference, but the ACC will take a backseat to the Big 12 and the Big 10. This trend will not last long though, and in 2010 there may be 2 or 3 Final Four caliber teams.
Here is my stab at the 2009-10 ACC season. I live right in the middle of the ACC, so I know that it is, in my opinion, the best conference in all of college basketball. Previewing the ACC is a tall task, but I have given my best effort to put a quality, deep preview of a great, prestigious basketball conference.
Here are last year’s standings:
Team Conference Overall
North Carolina 13-3 34-4
Wake Forest 11-5 24-7
Duke 11-5 30-7
Florida State 10-6 25-10
Clemson 9-7 23-9
Boston College 9-7 22-12
Maryland 7-9 21-14
Virginia Tech 7-9 19-15
Miami 7-9 19-13
NC State 6-10 16-14
Virginia 4-12 10-18
Georgia Tech 2-14 12-19
Here is a link to all the ACC team’s schedules:
Here are my picks for big games each week of the season for the ACC teams, starting with the first week of conference play:
Florida St. at Georgia Tech (December 20, Fox Sports Network, 5:30)
This game opens up conference play, and these two teams could be surprise contenders in the conference. Georgia Tech has brought in spectacular recruits, including national top player Derrick Favors, and they return a fair amount of experience from last year. Florida State will have problems after losing their star Tony Douglas, but a lot of experts say they will be a possible NCAA Tournament team.
My Pick: Georgia Tech
Clemson at Duke (January 3, Fox Sports Network 7:45)
Duke will look to avenge last year’s embarrassing 74-47 loss from last season. This game may feature 2 teams ranked in the top 25, and it could have serious ACC regular season championship implications.
My Pick: Duke
North Carolina at Clemson (January 13, ESPN 9:00)
This is a major game between two conference contenders. It has been a long, long time since Clemson has beat UNC, and I think they will have to wait a little longer. It should be a top 25 matchup.
My Pick: UNC
Wake Forest at Duke (January 17, Fox Sports Network 8:00)
This was a huge match up that Wake Forest won last year on a last-second play while Duke was briefly ranked #1. I expect a really close game once again this year.
My Pick: I don’t know
Duke at North Carolina (February 10, Raycom/ESPN 9:00)
The rivalry is renewed between two of the most successful teams in college basketball history. The games are always competitive, and this year will be no exception. I look for Duke to break through this year and play a good game at the Dean Dome. However, I don’t think it will be enough.
My Pick: UNC
Georgia Tech at Wake Forest (February 13, Raycom 8:00)
This could be a deciding game for the 3-5 spot in the ACC final standings. I think these teams are evenly matched, and it should be a great game.
My Pick: Georgia Tech
North Carolina at Wake Forest (February 27, CBS 2:00)
This is a fairly heated rivalry that was split last year. These teams are always ACC powerhouses, and I look for the returning talent to really shine in this game for both the Tarheels and Demon Deacons. Wake Forest will be coming off a few losses in my opinion, and they will be bloodthirsty for a victory.
My Pick: Wake Forest
NC State at Virginia Tech (March 3, 7:00)
These two teams are in a rebuilding state, and both used to be fairly successful programs. These teams will both probably finish in the bottom half of the league, but I look for the Wolfpack to possibly get a conference victory here.
My Pick: NC State
North Carolina at Duke (March 6, ESPN *College Game Day, 9:00)
This will be Senior Night for Jon Scheyer, and I look for him to have a big game. I think the Blue Devils will break UNC’s streak of wins at Cameron.
My Pick: Duke
My Final Regular Season Standings:
Pros: Duke is returning a lot of talent. They have only lost 3 players from last year’s roster. Two key returning players for Duke are Jon Scheyer and Kyle Singler, who both have the potential to be national-caliber players. Their incoming recruiting class isn’t too bad either, with 2 All-Americans in Ryan Kelly and Mason Plumlee. Also, Andre Dawkins made the jump this year to play for the Blue Devils, and he is also a great player who can play quality minutes for Duke this year. Look for a Sweet 16, or possibly an Elite 8, appearance this year.
Cons: Duke lost arguably their best athletes, Gerald Henderson and Eliot Williams. Henderson, now playing for the Charlotte Bobcats, was a huge playmaker who led the team last year. Someone will have to step up and be a playmaker to fix this problem. Also, there are still questions for Duke’s frontcourt. This has been a recurring problem for years. Duke will have to fix it to go far in the postseason.
2. North Carolina
Pros: UNC has great incoming recruiting classes, and this year is no exception. Top recruit John Hensen is a durable player who can log quality minutes for the Tarheels. UNC returns some decent talent, including Ty Zeller and 5th year senior Marcus Ginyard. Their backcourt will be one of the best in the nation, and there post presence is none to shabby either. Look for UNC to go to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament.
Cons: The Tarheels have lost a lot of talent. Their top 4 players are all gone to the NBA. Tyler Hansbrough was such a talented player, and he will be sorely missed. Ty Lawson and Bobby Frasor, their 1-2 point guards, are both gone as well. Other players gone include Wayne Ellington, a great shooter, and Danny Green, a great defender. The Tarheels have definitely lost a lot of talent from their National Championship team, and they could possibly fall to 3 in the ACC.
Pros: The Maryland Terrapins have a true ACC Player of the Year candidate in Greivis Vasquez, and they were a few close games away from finishing higher in the ACC last year. They won’t make as many mistakes this year, and they are a really talented team.
Cons: Maryland may become a one-man team, with Vasquez, and that doesn’t always lead to success. They do not have a really special recruiting class, and they need to win some key tough games to be at #3 in the conference.
Pros: Clemson has been very successful over the last few years. K.C. Rivers could be an All-ACC first teamer, and there are a lot of weapons on both defense and offense. They have a spectacular recruiting class, with McDonald’s All-American Milton Jennings and several other top national recruits. Look for Clemson to get an NCAA Tournament berth, and possibly do some damage in the first few rounds.
Cons: It’s a now infamous problem with the Tigers, they always trail off at the end of the season. The Tigers always start out blazing hot, but flame out when the season really counts. They’ll have to overcome that this year to keep this 4<sup>th</sup> place spot. I think that there is a possible Sweet 16 in Clemson’s future.
5. Wake Forest
Pros: Wake Forest is returning some great talent, the best of which is Al-Farouq Aminu, who was named a Pre-Season All American by foxsports.com. He was dominant last year, and I believe he will be even better this year. Wake Forest has signed a fairly good recruiting class, and there are other great role players willing to get off the bench and step into the starting lineup. Their biggest assets are Aminu and Chas McFarland, who will dominate down low.
Cons: The Demon Deacons lost a fairly large amount of talent. Jeff Teague was a huge playmaker and scorer, and there will have to be someone to take his place. Also, James Johnson is gone too. There will have to be some players to step in to the roles that these two superstar players. Wake Forest also may have a problem with depth. There are quite a few questions about this team for the season this year.
6. Georgia Tech
Pros: The Yellow Jackets have some serious talent, both from returning players and recruiting. Junior Gani Lawal looked promising last year, and I think this will be a breakout year for him. There is a lot of depth on this team. Also, this has got to be one of the greatest recruiting classes in Georgia Tech history. First of all, they landed the number 1 power forward in the nation, All-American Derrick Favors. He could play a major role in the Yellow Jackets’ success this year. Other major recruits include Mfon Udofia and Kammeon Holsey.
Cons: Georgia Tech’s season relies fairly heavily on the success of young players. For them to win, they will need their young players to produce every game. Also, this is a team that finished last in the ACC last year. This puts their coach Paul Hewitt on the hot seat. They will be hard-pressed to win this season.
7. Florida State
Pros: Florida State has some decent returning talent, including big man Solomon Alabi and forward Jordan DeMercy. The Seminoles also have some good incoming talent with McDonald’s All-American Michael Snaer. The Seminoles will have a decent season.
Cons: Florida State did lose their best player in years, Toney Douglas. Also, beyond All-American Michael Snaer, there are no great freshmen. Some little-known players will have to step up for the Seminoles to have a +.500 season.
8. Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech star Malcom Delaney is good enough to put the Hokies this high. They have a decent recruiting class, but there is no major star who can play good minutes for this team. The will probably finish around .500 in the ACC, but may fall to 7-9 as well.
9. Boston College
Tyrese Rice is gone, and there is no great player on this team. Also, there is virtually no recruiting for this year. The only reason they are this high is because of the weaknesses of the teams below them.
Jack McClinton is off to the San Antonio Spurs, and it will be hard to fill that void. They do, however, have some decent recruits that may put them a little higher than 10<sup>th</sup> .
Sylvan Landesburg is the star on this team, but he won’t be enough to get the Cavaliers anywhere higher than the bottom two. They have one major recruit in Tristan Spurlock, but I just don’t see this team being successful.
12. NC State
NC State just can’t seem to find their way out of the bottom of the ACC, and this year will be no exception. The only possible bright spot is a decent recruiting class, who will have to be superstars for the Wolfpack to have a chance to get out of the bottom of the barrel.
Potential Conference Players of the Year
Rookie of the Year--Derrick Favors
Please feel free to comment on anything you disagree with or if I have made any errors. Thanks for reading. If you like what you’ve read, I try to post something new every day, so keep reading.