College basketball is back! The first round of games starts on Tuesday, Nov. 9. College basketball has slowly become one of the premier sports to watch, due to the unpredictable upsets, the crazy fans and the lovely commentating of Jay Bilas. This article will dive into the beast that is ACC basketball. The ACC had a down year last season, with Florida State and Syracuse making the farthest runs in the NCAA Tournament. In what are new-look North Carolina, Duke and Virginia teams, the ACC should make for one of the most fun conferences this season.
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ACC Basketball Standings Predictions
- North Carolina
- Florida State
- Virginia Tech
- Notre Dame
- Georgia Tech
- North Carolina State
- Wake Forest
- Boston College
ACC Basketball Preview | The Favorites
There were three big offseason stories for North Carolina basketball this offseason. First was the departure of Walker Kessler, as he transferred to Auburn. The second was the departure of Garrison Brooks, who transferred to Mississippi State, and the third and maybe the most important story was Roy Williams retiring from coaching college basketball.
With his retirement, UNC named long-time assistant Hubert Davis as the new head coach. Luckily for Davis, Williams left the program in great shape. The Tar Heels return five key players from last year’s team, in Caleb Love, RJ Davis, Kerwin Walton, Leaky Black and Armando Bacot. They also brought in Virginia transfer Justin McKoy, Marquette transfer Dawson Garcia and Oklahoma transfer Brady Manek.
The five guys that were brought back averaged 45 points per game last season, with Garcia and Manek both averaging double figures. North Carolina is probably the most complete team in the ACC and, with players alone, Davis should have an easy transition to succeeding Roy Williams.
This is the last year that Mike Krzyzewski will coach college basketball. Because of this, you have to imagine that Duke will play inspired all year long and every road game is going to be that much more special. Last year, they missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1995. That has to play a factor in returning players playing with a chip on their shoulder. Duke returns three of their top five players, with defensive star Jordan Goldwire transferring to Oklahoma. What Blue Devils fans should be really happy about is freshman Paolo Banchero, who may be the best player in college basketball this year.
Duke also brings in AJ Griffin and Trevor Keels to round out one of the best recruiting classes in the country this year. This is the last hurrah for Coach K. While this is not the greatest team that he has ever had, it is a rather solid team who will give everyone trouble.
The Seminoles are going to have a hell of a time trying to replace four of their five top scorers from last year. Mainly number five draft pick Scottie Barnes. If there is any coach in the country who can deal with this, Leonard Hamilton is one of them. While he loses four players, he retains Anthony Polite, Malik Osbourne and Wyatt Wilkes. The big addition for Florida State is Houston transfer Caleb Mills, who figures to contend for ACC All-First Team this year.
The Virginia Cavaliers are in a very interesting spot this year. For most of Tony Bennett’s career, the Cavaliers have been ranked in the top 10 before the season. This year, many outlets are ranking them in the low twenties and unranked in some cases. Virginia returns just two players who averaged over eight minutes a game last year. They do return Kihei Clark, who figures to be one of the better guards in the country this year. With such a change for Bennett’s squad, he will have to be at his best to sniff the top of the ACC this year.
ACC Basketball Preview | The Middle
Louisville probably had the craziest season of all the teams in college basketball last year. They had to pause twice for 18 days at a time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Talk about getting you out of your rhythm. Louisville lost their top two scorers from last year in Carlik Jones and David Johnson. They do bring in four transfers who are positioned to make a big impact in Jarrod West, Noah Locke, Matt Cross and the number one JUCO prospect El Ellis.
The Hokies return five of their top six scorers from last season, which bodes well for a team that is looking for a big year. Tech’s big offseason move was bringing in Wofford’s Storm Murphy, who averaged almost 18 points on 40% from the three-point line last year.
It’s a family reunion this season in Syracuse, New York. Legendary head coach Jim Boeheim is once again joined by his son Buddy, who shot the lights out in the ACC tournament and NCAA tournament. Jimmy Boeheim also joins the Orange. Syracuse will once again rely on their 2-3 zone defense and Buddy Boeheim to help get The Orange an at-large bid again.
I am surprised that Mike Brey is still employed by the university after not making the tournament since 2017. Will that trend continue this year? Maybe. Brey retains five of the six top scorers from last year. They will need excellent play from the trio of Prentiss Hubb, Nate Laszewski and Dane Goodwin to contend for the conference.
Georgia Tech lost their two best players from last year in Moses Wright and Jose Alvarado. They retain two players who averaged more than 6.7 points last year, in Michael DeVoe and Jordan Usher. This will not be a team like last year, but Josh Pastner may be one of the most underrated coaches in the nation.
North Carolina State
It feels weird to say this, but North Carolina State has not made the NCAA tournament since 2018. Two of the top three leading scorers for the Wolfpack are gone. They do retain Manny Bates and receive Virginia transfer Casey Morsell, who should complement each other well. Other than that, there is not much that State fans should be excited about this year.
ACC Basketball Preview | Bottom of the Barrel
Clemson had an incredible year (in their eyes) last year. This is mainly due in part to star player, Aamor Simms, who is now gone and the Tigers do not have a lot of pieces to fill his shoes. With the loss of such a central part of the team, Clemson should be happy if they finish in the top half of ACC basketball.
The two players that Hurricanes fans were excited about, Chris Lykes and Earl Timberlake, have transferred after a bad year. Along with three other players, five of Miami’s eight top players from last year are no longer on the team. Miami does not have much talent and should be around the 11 mark in the ACC due to the lack of talent on other teams.
Pittsburgh lost Justin Champagnie, Au’Diese Toney and Xavier Johnson — three players who combined for almost 47 points per game last season. To replace them, the Panthers brought in Texas Tech transfer Jamarius Burton, who averaged 10 points and three rebounds last year. With such a drop in production, look for the Panthers to be towards the bottom of the ACC all year long.
The Demon Deacons bring back Daivien Williamson and welcome Indiana State transfer Jake Laravia. That’s about it for this team. Steve Forbes took over the head coaching duties last year during the pandemic, making it almost impossible to recruit. Based on that alone, Wake Forest should finish no higher than 10th in the ACC this year.
It is tough being the worst team in one of the best basketball conferences in America. Taking on UNC, Duke, Virginia and Florida State every year can be a lot to ask for. Earl Grant is the new head coach in Boston. With experience coaching at Wichita State, Grant should turn this team into a little bit better than terrible.