ACC men’s basketball preview: UNC up front, but Duke, Virginia and Miami lurk

Long, #OneBidACC.

Miserable fate. Say what you will about the Atlantic Coast Conference last season – there was a lot already – but good luck in any league with the country’s pre-season first team and two other recent title winners in the top 18. Look, the athleteACC men’s basketball preview:

Two dominant stories

Is the magic of the UNC march repeatable?

No, you don’t remember: North Carolina It was truly the 35th team nationwide as of February 28, according to BartTorvik efficiency rankings. The team was… okay? Only your regular and non-exceptional NCAA team. Then the calendar flipped back to March, and suddenly, strike: the first team in the country, by those same metrics.

So which UNC is showing up this season? In other words, are the modifications made by Hubert Davis late in the year – especially defensive – carry over? The team’s high pre-season roster indicates widespread optimism, but replacing Brady Mannick’s 3-point production won’t be easy, even if Northwestern moves Nance’s house – Who’s going to start at Manek’s place – Picking up a gate was great.

Coach K is gone, so what to do duke Look like John Sheer?

This isn’t just blue-blooded playing; He wonders what blood blue would look like without the chief architect, winning coach in men’s college basketball history. Scheyer Duke has known inside and out for more than a decade as a player and assistant coach, but he’s never fired the shots before. How does he deal with that – especially with 11 new players, seven of whom are beginners? (Yes, it helps that these freshmen make up the country’s top-ranked recruiting class, but still.) Shire was widely hailed as a basketball player. It’s time to show it, all while laying the groundwork for Duke’s future.

Three players to watch

Armando BacotUNC: ACC Player of the Year Player of the Year, for good reason. Bacot made NCAA history last season with his double dominance; Now he is chasing an all-time UNC recovery record, which he should beat in January. It’s not inconceivable that he became the team’s first National Player of the Year since Tyler Hansbro.

Isaiah WongMiami: Always underestimated, all Wong did last season was take Miami to the Elite Eight and earn All-ACC Honors. Hurricanes are a sneaky sleeper to win the league, and if that happens, we’ll talk about him and the Nijel Pack as one of the best backyards in America.

Darg Whiteheadduke: Would you like to highlight a player who is currently out due to injury? Not when said player is among the top five potential players and a contender for national honors. Depending on when he returns, Whitehead’s broken foot could change Duke’s trajectory over the course of the season—for better or worse.


go deeper

How Duke’s Dariq Whitehead and Derek Lively II fit into Jon Scheyer’s vision

Top newcomer

Nigel BuckMiami: Probably more famous for his (widely advertised) six-figure NIL push than he played at this point, the Pack will soon be showing ACC fans why he’s leading such a bag. He averaged 17.4 points and shot 43.6 percent from 3 last season for Kansas StateAnd it could be the best transmission in the country.

The coach who needs to win

Kevin Keats, North Carolina: Critical injuries, unsuccessful recruits, and a brief pandemic season cost Keats dearly: in the win-and-loss column, but also from a perception perspective. He’s a player coach who runs a fast attack, but another season in the ACC vault would be too much for the proud Wolfpack to overlook.

The expected end of the league

1. North Carolina: Four returning starters, two all-American prospects, running forward four years with NBA proportions, and more depth than Hubert Davis could have dreamed of last season. What do you not like? If anything, it’s the fact that North Carolina didn’t have expectations that high in five years.

2. Virginia: Experience is the name of the game, with five returning players – including Kihei Clark, who might not stop playing college basketball — Virginia has a lot. The Cavaliers They scored their worst defensive proficiency since 2011 last season, and Tony Bennett is a coach too good to let that happen again. adding big numerals Ben Vander Placefrom Ohio, was an underestimated addition.


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Can Virginia Road still win? Tony Bennett is about to find out

3. The Duke: with Whitehead and Derek Lively II – The two biggest starters in the country – Currently with injuries, plus a new coach, we may not see the best version of Duke until team play. But there is so much talent in Durham that the Blue Devils cannot fall far, especially with the budding base guards. Jeremy Roach Display management. If he played as he played in March, Duke would be a killer as ever.

Miami, led by dynamic guard Isaiah Wong, can be dangerous in the ACC. (Jimmy Sabao/USA Today)

4 – Miami: It wouldn’t be so shocking if the Hurricanes made a surprise move into the conference crown, fueled by the transitions of Wong, Buck and Arkansas. Norshad Amir. Jim Larrañaga always designs his attack around his people, and it’s very likely that he has more firepower than last season.

5. Florida: Injuries and inconsistency have led to an unnatural relegation season in Tallahassee, but Leonard Hamilton has enough tall, slender bodies to create the defensive havoc he desires. Matthew Cleveland He hasn’t done a single feat, but he has all the tools to be a superstar as a sophomore, assuming he regains confidence in his outside shot. But perhaps the most interesting player on the list is new Spanish player Papa Miller, a 6-foot-11 forward with guard-like skills, and FSU chose more than that. Gonzaga. Unfortunately for the Seminoles, it will be Suspended for the first 16 matches.

6. Notre Dame: The “surrounding four vets with one new student” tactic worked wonders last season, so bring it back up again, right? Five-star guard JJ Starling is coming in to fill the void left by Blake Wesley, and he would fit in well with the longest running trio on Notre Dame. Cormac RyanAnd the Dean GoodwinAnd the Nate Laszewski. Given the sheer offensive talent at Mike Bree’s disposal – defense, shmefense – Notre Dame looks like the last locked half of the league to go dancing.

7. Virginia Tech: Keve Aluma – the literal and metaphorical focus of Virginia Tech’s offense the past few seasons – is finally over, which means offensive mentor Mike Young is back on the drawing board. will ask for more Justin Mots And the Hunter Catortwo major contributors from last season’s ACC Championship team, but returning this group to the Big Dance would be Young’s most impressive achievement to date in Blacksburg.

8. Syracuse: Both Boehm brothers are gone. Could he be their next famous dad? Jim Boheim – the oldest active coach in the men’s game, turning 78 in November – hasn’t given any indications that this will be his last season, but he has to walk away at some point…right? Joe Gerrard and Jesse Edwards are known quantities here, but orangeThe tournament hopes to hinge on Boheim’s exit from the rookie goalkeeper Judah Mintz A sophomore athletic but rough Benny Williams.

9. Wake Forest: Steve Forbes can give their best, but good luck topped last year’s ACC Player of the Year title, Alonds Williams, and first-rounder Jake Lafia. Plus, if these two couldn’t push demonic deacons back into the tournament, what would it take? Damari Monsanto It’s already one of the ACC’s best 3-point shooter games and a must-breaker, Davien Williamson is reliable too, but Forbes needs one of their latest transfers – like the Delaware big Andrew Carr Or the Florida Guard Terry Appleby – To take a step to keep Wake competitive in a deeper league.

10. Clemson: If not for his off-season injury, there is a good shot ahead for PJ Hall earning some honors in the pre-season conference. Unfortunately, now it’s all about the time spent outside and the time it takes to get to full speed. In 12 seasons with the Tigers, head coach Brad Brownell’s side have only claimed the NCAA Championship three times—and if he misses it again, the chatter about his job security will only increase.

11- North Carolina: will be Terquavion Smith Shown at Raleigh, and rightly so, after the anticipated first-round pick to return for a sophomore season. If Smith doesn’t lead the league in scoring — and field goal attempts, if we’re being honest — he’ll be top of the group (pun intended). Former Big South Player of the Year DJ Burns fills a Manny Bates-sized gap in the Keatts rotation, but years of early defections and no-show recruits have taken their toll on Wolfpack’s overall talent level.

12. Boston College: BC may surprise some people this season, and it’s a testament to the early progress Earl Grant made there. Quentin Post He’s developed quite a bit over the course of last season and if there’s another leap he needs to make, he’ll pair well with the alumni guard. Mackay Ashton Langford A sophomore student Jayden Zachri. Keep your eyes on a student Prince Aligbe, very; He’s in a position to start with the Eagles, and there was positive buzz around the 6-6 winger this pre-season.

13. Pete: Jeff Capel inherited a terrible disaster when he arrived in the spring of 2018, but as he enters his fifth year, there are few signs of long-term growth. John Hugley is a solid post that will start with a number of ACC teams, Jamarius Burton and Nike Sibande are solid alternate pieces, but there aren’t a lot of game breakers on this list. To make matters worse, the leopards The most dynamic new student, Dior Johnsonindefinitely.

14. Louisville: Welp, let’s see how much player development Kenny Payne already has. Previous Kentucky The New York Knicks assistant has a penchant for making players better, but that reputation will be tested early, especially with the returnees EllisAnd the Sydney Cary And the Jaylene Withers. Five-star ex-recruit Brandon Huntley Hatfield It can be intriguing, but expectations Payne’s first season Predictably low.

15th. Georgia Tech: The good thing is that Josh Pastner radiates positivity.

(Top image by Armando Bacot: Bill Streicher/USA Today)

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