What does it mean when the ACC picks off 20 of the ESPNU Top 100 recruits for 2012?
It means it's going to be quite a race, and no easy climb for the North Carolina Tar Heels to reach their sixth ACC title in the last seven seasons.
There is no mercy for the team that lost their top four players to the draft. UNC will be facing a gauntlet of a schedule—and for the first time, it will consist of 18 games.
I'm not sure anyone has it tougher than the Tar Heels in 2012-13.
The teams they only face once are all cellar dwellers, in Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, Boston College and Clemson. As for the teams they will see twice, the list includes Duke, NC State, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Miami and Virginia.
Yes, that means Carolina will face the top-seven finishers from 2011-12 twice, while facing the worst of the ACC only once.
The “official” schedule has yet to be released, but this is what was leaked to Harold Gutman of The Herald-Sun.
By now you may be questioning how North Carolina could possibly have any advantages in the ACC, considering they lost their top four players and have the toughest schedule in the conference.
I'm here to tell you they have quite a few, still. But that doesn't mean they will come away with a regular season title.
It's not that easy.
It probably hasn't been any harder than it will be in 2012-13. Not only do I see Duke, NC State and Florida State as contenders for the ACC title, but also potential Elite Eight contestants—the conference is that good.