The depth of the ACC was nearly on full display in 2016-17. The league produced seven NCAA Tournament teams, six of which ended up in the Sweet 16 and two in the Final Four.
The final AP poll, before the start of the NCAA Tournament, featured five teams in the top 20 — No. 3 North Carolina, No. 4 Virginia, No. 10 Miami, No. 16 Louisville and No. 19 Duke.
So why was this a year of near-greatness? Well, there was North Carolina’s bid for a national title dashed on a last-minute shot from Villanova’s Kris Jenkins, for starters. Another would-be NCAA Tournament team, Louisville, was ineligible for the postseason due to sanctions.
The 2016-17 season, however, could be a league even closer to powerhouse status. Duke could be a unanimous preseason No. 1. North Carolina and Virginia aren’t going anywhere. Louisville is eligible for the postseason yet again. After only hinting at their potential last season, teams like Clemson and Virginia Tech returns enough to make a run at the NCAA Tournament.
The ACC, even in its 15-team configuration, has never put more than seven teams into the NCAA Tournament. The possibility of sending double-digit teams to the Tournament is one worth monitoring all season.
All ACC predictions and a full preview of each team in the conference can be found in the Athlon Sports 2016-17 Preview Magazine, available in our online store and on newsstands everywhere.
Player of the Year: Grayson Allen, Duke
Best Defensive Player: BeeJay Anya, NC State
Most Underrated Player: Jaron Blossomgame, Clemson
Newcomer of the Year: Harry Giles, Duke
G Dennis Smith Jr., NC State
G Dwayne Bacon, Florida State
G Grayson Allen, Duke
F Jaron Blossomgame, Clemson
F Harry Giles, Duke
G London Perrantes, Virginia
G Joel Berry II, North Carolina
F Justin Jackson, North Carolina
F Michael Young, Pittsburgh
F Austin Nichols, Virginia
G Seth Allen, Virginia Tech
F Jamil Artis, Pittsburgh
F Jayson Tatum, Duke
F Abdul-Malik Abu, NC State
F Zach LeDay, Virginia Tech
1. Duke: The nation’s best class has four five-star prospects, including three of the top 10 recruits in the nation.
2. NC State: Markell Johnson’s reclassification to the 2016 class makes for a dangerous addition with five-star Dennis Smith Jr.
3. Miami: Bruce Brown and Dewan Huell are the No. 5 shooting guard and power forward nationally in the 2016, respectively.
4. North Carolina: Five-star center Tony Bradley is the jewel of the nation’s No. 11 class, but watch out for four-star shooting guard Seventh Woods.
5. Florida State: Five-star small forward Jonathan Isaac is likely a one-and-done prospect who brings Kevin Durant-esque talents to FSU.
6. Virginia: This fantastic Cavaliers class has three top-100 recruits, headlined by top-10 guard Kyle Guy from Indiana.
7. Syracuse: Syracuse has three commits, and they are all four-star players.
8. Louisville: Despite the program’s scandals, lone commit VJ King took his McDonald’s All-American talents to Louisville.
9. Notre Dame: Four-star point guard Temple Gibbs is an ambidextrous scorer who will play right away.
10. Wake Forest: This class includes four three-star players, including massive center Samuel Japhet-Mathias.
11. Georgia Tech: Can new head coach Josh Pastner and his trio of three-star recruits lift the Jackets in the ACC?
12. Pittsburgh Kevin Stallings took over at Pitt and held on to the Panthers’ three signees.
13. Boston College Three-star point guard Ty Graves is a good get from North Carolina.
14. Virginia Tech Oak Hill product Khadim Sy could’ve opted to join Purdue’s massive frontcourt but stayed local with the Hokies.
15. Clemson Scott Spencer has a solid foundation as a 3-point sniper and could potentially develop into a regular starter.