Tuesday, November 18, 2008

ACC 2008-09 College Basketball Preview

Predicted Order of Finish

Things at the very top seem pretty easy to predict. With most publications picking North Carolina as the national number one, it is pretty hard to pick them anywhere besides number one in their own conference. From there, things get a little muddier. Duke seems to be a pretty clear-cut pick from second, but there are a handful of teams that will push them, and even the lower end of the conference has some strong teams that make this a deep conference, rather than a top-heavy one.

1. North Carolina – national player of the year Tyler Hansbrough returns for his senior year, and brings along not only almost all of his teammates from last year’s Final Four run, but an impressive freshman class as well. How can they not be the ACC favorite?

2. Duke – a good team by most standards, but by Duke standards, a team with a lot to prove. They’ve got some experience, some good athletes and, of course, a great coaching staff, but there are holes up front that seem unlikely to be filled. There athleticism and backcourt, however, should be good enough to get them a second place ACC finish.

3. Wake Forest – they are certainly young, but these Deacons are talented. Last year’s youngsters got plenty of experience on an under-talented team, and the combination of the returning talent plus one of the most exciting recruiting classes in the nation vaults this team to contender status immediately. While youth could cost them a spot or two, talent might win out.

4. Clemson – coming off an exciting season, as well as a maddening one, Clemson loses three major contributors. However, plenty of talent remains. They will need to make their free, though, something they had a ton of trouble with last year.

5. Miami – Jack McClinton may well be the most underrated guard in America, and despite plenty of struggles in finding the right backcourt mate for him the past few years, the Hurricanes look poised to make a good run this season.

6. Florida State – another exciting freshman class in the ACC gives the Seminoles a bit of confidence heading into the season. Combined with returning starters Toney Douglas and Uche Echefu, as well as some frontcourt beef, Florida State looks poised to returns to the NCAA tournament.

7. Virginia Tech – there may not be a lot of flash on this Hokie team, but almost everyone returns from last year’s non-descript 4th place team. They are a bit undersized in the frontcourt, but have enough athleticism to hang in there with most teams. It shouldn’t surprise anyone if they finish even higher.

8. Maryland – Greivis Vasquez and Steve Bla…errr Eric Hayes return for their third seasons in College Park along with a whole bunch of other question marks. If the Terrapins can get some production from Sophs Cliff Tucker and Braxton Dupree, this team is capable of knocking off many teams, however they may be a little too thin up front to compete consistently.

9. Georgia Tech – not enough depth to get up and down the floor like Paul Hewitt would like. The Ramblin’ Wreck seems doomed to a lower division finish.

10. Boston College – Tyrese Rice will provide plenty of scoring, but the lack of size up front will be a problem throughout the season.

11. Virginia – a strong three-man freshman class will give this program a much needed infusion of talent, and combined with a handful of talented returnees, the Cavs will be a tough out.

12. NC State – the Wolfpack are more talented than a last-place team, but continued question marks at the point and underachievement up front are not a good combination.

Preseason All-Conference
First Team
PG Tyrese Rice Sr Boston College
SG Jack McClinton Sr Miami
SF A.D. Vasallo Sr Virginia Tech
SF Al-Farouq Aminu Fr Wake Forest
C Tyler Hansbrough Sr North Carolina

Second Team
PG Ty Lawson Jr North Carolina
SG Greivis Vasquez Jr Maryland
SF Danny Green Sr North Carolina
SF Gerald Henderson Jr Duke
PF James Johnson So Wake Forest

Third Team
PG Toney Douglas Sr Florida State
SG Wayne Ellington Jr North Carolina
SG KC Rivers Sr Clemson
SF Kyle Singler So Duke
PF Trevor Booker Jr Clemson

All Freshman Team

PG Iman Shumpert Georgia Tech
SF Chris Singleton Florida State
SF Dequan Jones Miami
SF Al-Farouq Aminu Wake Forest
PF Ed Davis North Carolina

Preseason Tournament Tie-Ins

Boston College– NIT Season Tip-Off
Potential Opponents: Loyola MD, St. John’s/Cornell, Purdue, Oklahoma/Arizona/Davidson

Duke – Coaches vs Cancer
Potential Opponents: Southern Illinois/UCLA

Maryland – Old Spice
Potential Opponents: Michigan State, Gonzaga/Oklahoma State, Tennessee/Siena/Wichita State/Georgetown

Miami – Paradise Jam
Potential Opponents: Southern Miss, Connecticut, San Diego

North Carolina – Maui Invitational
Potential Opponents: Chaminade, Oregon/Alabama, Texas/Notre Dame

Virginia Tech – Puerto Rico Tip-Off
Potential Opponents: Fairfield, Missouri/Xavier, Memphis/USC

Top 10 Non- Conference Games

11/18 Kentucky @ North Carolina
Okay, the game probably sounds a lot better than it will be. But still, UK/UNC.

11/28 Virginia @ Syracuse
We’ll get a good idea where the middle of the ACC is in this matchup.

12/2 Duke @ Purdue
One of the most appealing of the ACC/Big-10 Challenge games.

12/2 Ohio State @ Miami
Miami gets a good chance to show off their team on a national stage.

12/3 North Carolina @ Michigan State
The Tar Heels get a chance to seal another ACC win in the “Challenge” if it isn’t already sealed by then.

12/21 Pitt @ Florida State
The Seminoles host a Big East power, although the Panthers may still be without LaVance Fields at this point.

12/22 Georgia Tech @ USC
A tough road trip for the Jackets against a western power.

1/6 Clemson @ Alabama
Clemson tunes up for ACC play with a battle against possible SEC contender Alabama.

1/7 Davidson @ Duke
Duke’s strong non-conference schedule continues with a instate matchup with last year’s Cinderella.

1/17 Georgetown @ Duke
Duke’s final non-conference game should be a battle between national powers.

Predicted NCAA Tournament Invites (6):

North Carolina, Duke, Wake Forest, Clemson, Miami, Florida State

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