ACC's old guard leads the way again
Old-school ACC fans who remember the days of a Tobacco Road-focused lineup may find themselves pinching themselves at times this season.
Conference expansion in the ACC has been football focused, even if basketball powerhouses like Louisville and Syracuse have been added. This season, however, the three teams at the top are classic ACC basketball powers. Duke, North Carolina and Virginia are all poised to contend for the Final Four. All that’s missing is Maryland, a charter ACC team that will have a top-five team in the Big Ten.
The ACC will have plenty of intrigue beyond those top three. Louisville, now facing a lurid off-court scandal, needed two graduate transfers from mid-majors to stay afloat. Notre Dame expects to score in bunches again, even without Jerian Grant. Florida State and Miami have rebuilt after missing the NCAA Tournament, and NC State will be plenty talented.
All ACC predictions and a full preview of each team in the conference can be found in the Athlon Sports 2015-16 Preview Magazine, available online and on newsstands everywhere.
Podcast: Who should be No. 1 in College Basketball in 2015-16?
|2015-16 ACC Predictions|
|1.||Lost three one-and-dones, but Duke welcomes in another elite recruiting class that will be ready to contribute. Postseason: National Runner-Up||Team Preview|
|2.||Depth and experience should carry the Heels on a deep NCAA run. Nine players from a 10-man rotation return. Postseason: Final Four||Team Preview|
Had Justin Anderson stayed, the Cavs would be the ACC favorite. Still, the bulk of a 30-win team is back, and so is coaching wiz Tony Bennett. Postseason: Elite Eight
|4.||Every key player from an Elite Eight run is gone, but Rick Pitino added two of the nation’s top transfers. Postseason: Second Round||Team Preview|
|5.||Suffered some big losses after coming one basket away from Final Four, but Mike Brey still has plenty to build around. Postseason: Second Round||Team Preview|
|6.||Adding a top-10 recruiting class — including three freshmen who can help right away — will get the Noles back in the NCAA Tournament. Postseason: Second Round||Team Preview|
Every key player returns after reaching 2015 NIT title game. Postseason: First Round
|8.||NCAA penalties didn’t stop Orange from landing a strong recruiting class, but Jim Boeheim will miss nine ACC games. Postseason: First Round||Team Preview|
Losing leading scorer Trevor Lacey (who went undrafted) from the Pack’s Sweet 16 team was a major blow. Postseason: First Four
|10.||Coming off a rare down year. The roster boasts experience, but big questions remain on defense. Postseason: NIT|
Pressure is building on Brad Brownell after four straight years without an NCAA bid. Postseason: NIT
Expect improvement in Year 2 of the Danny Manning era.
|13.||Maryland transfer Seth Allen will help, and so will playing so many freshmen last year.|
Brian Gregory was given one more year — just barely. In his four years, Tech is just 19–51 in ACC play.
Firmly in rebuilding mode. Eagles will be one of the youngest teams in the conference.
Player of the Year: Brandon Ingram, Duke
Best Defensive Player: Malcolm Brogdon, Virginia
Most Underrated: Sheldon McClellan, Miami
Newcomer of the Year: Brandon Ingram, Duke
Top Coach: Mike Krzyzewski, Duke (full list)
Coach on the Hot Seat: Brian Gregory, Georgia Tech (full list)
Teams in the national top 25: No. 2 Duke, No. 3 North Carolina, No. 5 Virginia, No. 23 Louisville
All-ACC First Team
G Malcolm Brogdon, Virginia
G Marcus Paige, North Carolina
G Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Florida State
F Brandon Ingram, Duke
F Zach Auguste, Notre Dame
All-ACC Second Team
G Derryck Thornton, Duke
G Demetrius Jackson, Notre Dame
G Sheldon McClellan, Miami
F Brice Johnson, North Carolina
F Kennedy Meeks, North Carolina
All-ACC Third Team
G Damion Lee, Louisville
G Grayson Allen, Duke
F Jaron Blossomgame, Clemson
F Anthony Gill, Virginia
C Tonye Jekiri, Miami
1. Duke: The No. 2-ranked class nationally features four five-star prospects, including point guard Derryck Thornton.
2. Louisville: This diverse four-man class ranks No. 7 nationally, and there are big expectations for powerful guard Donovan Mitchell.
3. Florida State: Wing scorer Dwayne Bacon is the gem of Seminoles’ top-10 class.
4. Syracuse: The Orange just missed on the top 10 nationally but have four talented four-star prospects coming to campus.
5. Virginia Tech: Sitting just outside the top 25 nationally, the Hokies’ class includes four four-star prospects.
6. Wake Forest: Danny Manning landed two post players with potential and an athletic four-star guard in Bryant Crawford.
7. Notre Dame: Shooting, toughness on the perimeter and a physical inside presence are coming Mike Brey’s way.
8. NC State: Maverick Rowan is a sharpshooting scorer, and Shaun Kirk is a slashing athlete.
9. North Carolina: It is only a two-man class, but four-star prospect Kenny Williams is known for his shooting ability.
10. Clemson: Speedy point guard Ty Hudson is the top recruit in the Tigers’ class.
11. Boston College: The Eagles are loading up with a five-man class of three-star recruits.
12. Pittsburgh: Four-star guard Damon Wilson is known for his versatile play and scoring ability.
13. Miami: The Canes added a couple of high-potential forwards.
14. Virginia: Rugged and skilled big man Jarred Reuter is the Cavaliers’ lone recruit.
15. Georgia Tech: Brian Gregory is adding some size with Sylvester Ogbonda.