To me, predictions are like are like assholes, everyone has one and they all stink. Mine included. But that doesn’t mean I’m not willing to pull down my pants and show you what I got.
No. 1 North Carolina
Everyone is back except for Reggie Bullock, but McDonald should slide in nicely. McAdoo and Hairston could be the best duo in the league after passing on the NBA. The big question marks are, will anyone master the three-point shot (I’m looking at you Paige) and will Roy Williams decide to stick with the small ball? He’s got a lot of big boys on that roster (James, Hubert, Meeks, Hicks), but can any one of them start and make Carolina a better team?
No. 2 Duke
Ironic, despite the new faces on the ACC, I still have Carolina/Duke on top. The reality is, I flip-flopped on Duke and North Carolina for the top spot. Duke has two of the best wing players coming in (Hood/Parker) to play with Cook and Sulaimon, both who should make nice strides in 2013-14. Right now, I put Duke a spot below UNC because I feel like Duke’s hole in the five-spot is more glaring. Of course if they go land Tarik Black, I’ll switch it up. Then if Roy Williams gets Andrew Wiggins, I’ll put the Tar Heels back on top.
No. 3 Virginia
Last year the Cavaliers should have made the tournament, but were left out for reasons I can’t explain. That won’t happen this year. Tony Bennett has to replace both a point guard and center, but he does have two potential first-team All ACC players in seniors Joe Harris (16.3 PPG) and Akil Smith.
No. 4 Notre Dame
It’s hard to be a fair judge of the former Big East teams. I just haven’t seen them play as much as I have the ACC teams. The Irish lose a great player inside with Jake Cooley graduating, but Mike Brey does have some experience coming off the bench to fill the gap. However, the key to Notre Dame’s success in 2013-14 will be their guard play. Point guard Eric Atkins and shooting guard Jerian Grant averaged 24.5 ppg, 5.5 rebounds and they both each averaged 5.5 assists last year. The Irish’s success will fall onto their shoulders.
No. 5 Syracuse
When it comes to losing players, most people talk about Duke’s big three or N.C. State losing their entire roster, but Syracuse has their own issues. They are losing Carter-Williams, Southerland and Triche. Those three combined for over 40 points per game, plus 14 rebounds and 12 assists. Now Jim Boeheim still has plenty of talent to play around with. C.J. Fair and Rakeem Christmas will be the stars, while both Coleman or Keita can fill in nicely at center. However, the big question mark is at the point guard spot, where freshman Tyler Ennis will be asked to run the offense and spearhead the Boeheim 2-3 zone.
No. 6 Boston College
Go ahead and call me a believer. I like what Steve Donahue is doing in Boston. The Eagles are the only ACC team returning all five starters and the best part is, none are seniors. Joe Rahon, Olivier Hanlan and Ryan Anderson could be one of the better trios in the conference.
No. 7 Pittsburgh
The Panthers were a hard team to figure out. I had them as high as fourth, before moving them back. With Tray Woodall gone, this is a team with a lot of good players, but is desperate for a star. Small forward Lance Patterson is the leading scorer returning, but let’s be honest, the Panthers season will come down to whether one sophomore is ready for prime time. Point guard James Robinson needs to show why he was rated the 4th best point guard coming out of high school.
No. 8 Maryland
In their final run in the ACC, the Terrapins only lose Alex Len. It may seem like a big loss, especially since he is expected to be a high draft pick in the 2013 NBA draft, but in reality, I never got a sense that Maryland knew how to use Len. With him gone, the offense will rally around Dez Wells and Nick Faust, two solid wings. If Seth Allen can improve his shot and Shaquille Cleare can master the paint, then Maryland could move up and make a run for the tournament.
No. 9 Florida State
Obviously if Leonard Hamilton can really convince Andrew Wiggins to come to Florida State, that changes everything…but for now, he’s not there and without him I don’t see a great Seminoles team. Okaro White can score some points inside, but he was a liability on the defensive end. Kiel Turpin has great size to be a center, but he has failed to impress. Meanwhile, Ian Miller was suppose to be the next great guard, but after a solid sophomore season, he had a major drop in production his junior year. The fact is, with four potential seniors starting, Florida State should be good (look at Miami this past season), but if they weren’t good juniors, why would they suddenly become good seniors?
No. 10 Georgia Tech
The youth movement will continue for Brian Gregory in Atlanta. Assuming Solomon Poole is healthy and ready to start at point guard, the Yellow Jackets will start four sophomores to just one senior (Daniel Miller). Marcus Georges-Hunt and Robert Carter should be ready to lead one of the deeper teams in the conference, with nine players seeing 10+ minutes next year.
No. 11 Clemson
Coach Brad Brownell has done a great job recruiting athletes, but the problem is, they don’t seem to be turning into great basketball players. The Tigers are set at guard, starting Jordan Roper, Rod Hall and Damacus Harrison, but they have to somehow replace Devin Booker and Milton Jennings. My guess is they go small ball with McDaniels at the four, but this team will have a lot of problems in the paint.
No. 12 Wake Forest
C.J. Harris is gone and I’ll be honest, I have no clue who is going to replace him. The only options are sophomore point guard Madison Jones (who shot .000 from three last year) or the 53rd ranked shooting guard in the 2013 class, freshman Miles Overton. Neither is a great option. Once again, Travis McKie will be asked to carry the load and yet again it will be too much to ask.
No. 13 Miami
First of all, I’m assuming Larkin is leaving. Even if he doesn’t, I still wouldn’t put Miami in the top-half of the conference (probably 9th). The Canes are just losing too much talent. Garrius Adams will be back after missing a season and Rion Brown has some experience, but when Tonye Jekiri is your best option for the five-spot, you got problems.
No. 14 North Carolina State
The battle for last place will be a battle between the Wolfpack and the Hokies. Even Mark Gottfried has to be scratching his head trying to figure out how things got so bad so fast. North Carolina State is losing all five starters and will rely on two sophomores, three freshman, two transfer juniors and one overrated senior (Vandenberg). T.J. Warren will be the star and this will probably be his last year in college, but the reality is, the Pack need their three freshman (SG) Anthony Barber, (PF) Kyle Washington and (C) BeeJay Anya to get real good, real fast.
No. 15 Virginia Tech
With Erick Green gone, the only real talent on this team is gone. Marquis Rankin takes over at point and Jarell Eddie should be the teams top scorer. Inside, if Barksdale or Raines can live up to their expectations (doubtful), then maybe the Hokies can surprise some folks, but I suspect it will be another painful year in Blacksburg.