Friday, October 9, 2009

College Basketball Preview: ACC

Remember at the end of the Mountain West Review where I said I was going to get less fact, number, and research intensive?  Yeah, I'm still going to keep that going.  It's much easier for me, and probably a better read for you.  Plus, it lessons the chances of me getting attacked by rabid fans of whichever conference I review, and my feelings are already a little bruised after a Dayton fan said I probably live in a trailer.  I'm still trying to get over that one.  Why don't people realize that words hurt?

1.  Duke.  More like Puke, am I right?  Seriously I hate putting these guys first, I just hate it, but I think they're the team to beat while the Heels figure out their new team.  In a bit of a switch, the Devils will be thin in the back court this season, with just Nolan Smith, Jon Scheyer, and graduated from high school a year early guy and big time recruit Andre Dawkins.  Luckily for them they have a whole bunch of big tall white guys who like to play on the perimeter and are comfortable handling the ball, as usual, so lack of guard depth shouldn't hurt in the half court, at least.  That group includes Kyle Singler, the preseason favorite for ACC Player of the Year.

2.  North Carolina.  Losing Hansbrough, Lawson, Ellington, and Green gives the Heels a lot to replace, but as you would expect there's a whole other group here ready to step in.  How good can Ed Davis be?  We'll find out.  I remember last recruiting season it was Ed Davis this and Ed Davis that and blah blah blah.  He will be counted on to be a big part of the offense.  The Heels recruiting class is loaded, with all five guys in the Rivals top 70.  Carolina will be loaded with big guys, with leading returning scorer Deon Thompson back, Davis, and three of the recruits 6-10 or bigger, headlined by John Henson who was described by Athlon as a "game-changing talent."  The key might be PG Larry Drew, the only real PG on the roster and a top recruit two seasons ago who was sheltered behind Lawson.

3.  Georgia Tech.  "Georgia Tech?" is probably what you are saying right now, but you best believe the Jackets are ready to make a run.  They bring in an outstanding recruiting class, including Rivals #3 overall Derrick Favors, a 6-9 center out of Georgia and the next Ralph Sampson III, as well as two guys the Gophers were looking at:  PG Mfon Udofia (#32) and Glen Rice, Jr. (#45).  With Gani Lawal's surprise decision to not enter the NBA draft and Iman Shumpert also back, the Jackets have as much talent as anybody (well, other than UNC or Duke).  Sadly, there is not a point guard from NYC on the roster, but one of the other newcomers this year is named Brian Oliver, so they got that going for them.

4.  Maryland.  Grievis Vasquez is still around?!!?!?!  Guy is on the Wade Lookingbill/Brian Cardinal program apparently - except he's talented.  Very talented, very good all-around player, and a flat-out stud, as shown by his triple-double against North Carolina last year, as well as several other near triple doubles.  The Terps have almost everybody back from last year, but don't have a secondary star to compliment Vasquez.  If one of the returners or top 100 recruit Jordan Williams can elevate their game to help him, Maryland might have a sweet 16 run in them.

5.  Clemson.  It's tough to know what to make of the Tigers.  Losing both K.C. Rivers and his-range-starts-when-he-enters-the-gym-type Terrence Oglesby weakens their perimeter, but they still bring back superstud post player Trevor Booker.  He can not only score, but he's one of the best rebounders in the country.  McDonald's All-American Milton Jennings joins up to help solidify the paint, but, like UNC, point guard play will determine how far Clemson can go.  Hopefully Oglesby enjoys Europe, his loss certainly weakens their hopes.

6.  Florida State.  Toney Douglas is gone.  Wow, how weird is that?  Dude seemed like he had been around forever, but I never got sick of him - now the Seminoles need to start life without him and they have a pretty good base to work from.  As usual they will still have a bunch of athletes, starting with 6-9 wing Chris Singleton and 7-1 beast inside Soloman Alabi.  Perhaps most exciting, however, is #7 recruit in the country Michael Snaer, a combo guard who was the California Player of the Year, will be lacing them up for FSU despite offers from UCLA and Kansas.  He should give Henson and Favors a run for ACC Freshman of the Year, and gives the Seminoles a chance to win on any night.

7.  Virginia Tech.  This is a team that I can see ending up higher than 7th, but right now I'm putting them here because this is where they ended up and I don't feel like cutting and pasting anything right now.  They lose their leading scorer in A.D. Vassallo, but returning guard Malcolm Delaney is a pimp and forward Jeff Allen is a beast down low, giving them an excellent inside-outside tandem.  The Hokies have been an NIT staple the last few years (other than '07), but if those two can get a little help from someone else the NCAA Tournament is certainly within reach.

8.  Wake Forest.  Last year the Demon Deacons raced out to a 16-0 record and a #1 ranking in the polls before coming back to earth and then flaming out in the NCAA tournament with a first round loss to Cleveland State.  This year they will have a tougher road ahead, losing their two leading scorers, James Johnson and Jeff Teague, off to the NBA.  Luckily, they still have hyper athletic and likely lottery pick next year Al-Farouq Aminu to work with.  They should be a very athletic team once again this year, but a mediocre recruiting class on top of losing their two studs means a step back.

9.  Miami.  I'm going to have to be honest with you here - I don't think I've seen a Miami game in two years.  Usually I've seen almost ever team, particularly from the power conferences, at least once or so a year, but somehow I've missed the Canes.  I know they lose Jack McClinton, who was their stud for a couple of years, and that certainly can't help.  The things I'm reading say that they have some pretty talented pieces and might be better than they were last year, but since I've never heard of any of these people I don't really know.  and I assume they'll lose a player or two to some sort of suspension since Miami is full of criminals.  Wow, I should really get to know this team better before they play the Gophers December 2nd.

10.  Boston College.  The Eagles were in a lot of ways a one-man show last season, and with Tyrese Rice now gone, some of those bit parts need to become major cogs.  BC does have two really interesting players, both oversized wing guys who can score inside or out in 6-8 Joe Trapani and 6-5 Rakim Sanders - who was a big part of their upset win of UNC at Chapel Hill last year.  Their issue is with lackluster post play, and with no new signees for this season they'll be relying on the same guys; foul-prone center Josh Southern and undersized PF Corey Raji, whose improvement might be the key for this season. 

11.  Virginia.  Tony Bennett is the new coach in Virginia, so you can expect the Cavaliers to get very slow and very boring in the near future.   For now, Sylvan Landesburg is an incredible player, but he needs a J.R. Reynolds to go with his Sean Singletary, or a Curtis Staples to go with his Harold Deane.  Yes, I'm trying to say he needs help.  Top 100 recruit Tristan Spurlock, a 6-8 wing from Virginia who was recruited hard by Georgetown, could be what he needs, but I don't see much improvement this year.  Bennett will make a difference, as boring as he his, but it will take time.

12.  NC State.  Man, has the this program taken a down turn in the last three years, and with their top three scorers gone to graduation it's not going to get any better this year.  Tracy Smith looks like he's going to end up being a very good player, but there's not much else here to get excited about.  Sid Lowe is still around, and he brings in good size and a couple highly regarded players in PF Richard Howell (Rivals #61) and C DeShawn Painter (#127), but took a big hit when PG Lorenzo Brown (#37) failed to qualify academically and had to go to prep school.  The school seems to believe in Lowe, and with girls like those above I doubt anybody is even paying attention to the court. 

So there you have it.  The ACC is always competitive, always tough, and always one of the best conferences in the nation and it should be the same again last year.  And with that I'm off to Portland for a well-deserved vacation until Wednesday, so I won't be around to either comment on the Twins/Yankees series or defend myself against the inevitable hate mail that will follow from this preview.  Hopefully Dawger, Snake, or Sidler will write a Twins post or two, but those guys are pretty much lazy sacks of crap who are borderline illiterate, so I wouldn't bet on it. 

Other Previews:
Conference USA
Atlantic 10 
Mountain West

No comments: