Biggest Questions Every ACC Basketball Team Must Answer in 2013-14 Season

David AldridgeFeatured ColumnistJuly 2, 2013

Biggest Questions Every ACC Basketball Team Must Answer in 2013-14 Season

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    The 2013-14 season will be full of intriguing questions for teams in the ACC.

    Some face questions that come with joining a new conference.

    Some face questions about whether they're ready to compete for a championship.

    And some face the question of being relevant in what will be one of the most competitive conferences in the nation.

    The following list looks at the biggest question every ACC basketball team must answer in the 2013-14 season.

Boston College: Do the Eagles Have Enough Experience to Contend?

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    Boston College had eight players average double-digit minutes last season. Of those eight players, seven of them were either freshmen or sophomores.

    After spending three seasons as the head coach of the Eagles, it's time to see if Steve Donahue is building a program that can succeed.

    He's got two great pieces to build around in Olivier Hanlan and Ryan Anderson. Anderson is a versatile post player and Hanlan can score from anywhere on the court. These two are young but they have the ability to compete with anyone in the ACC.

    Boston College has become more competitive over the past couple seasons as these young guys have adjusted to the college game. Now, it's time to see whether that growth can translate to wins.

Clemson: Where Will the Offense Come From?

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    Clemson is a team that struggled with putting the ball in the basket during the 2012-13 season.

    According to, the Tigers averaged only 61.5 points per game, which was last in the ACC.

    With Devin Booker and Milton Jennings, two of the team's top three scorers from last season, now gone, it could be another difficult year on offense for Clemson.

    Jordan Roper showed some shooting potential last season as a freshman and K.J. McDaniels is extremely athletic, but the Tigers don't have any proven scorers.

    Finding some reliable offensive weapons certainly has to be a priority for Brad Brownell going into next season.

Duke: Do the Blue Devils Have Enough Depth in the Paint?

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    Duke will be one of the deepest teams in the country when it comes to backcourt players.

    The Blue Devils have an abundance of riches when it comes to athletic forwards and guards who can play multiple positions.

    It would be nice for Mike Krzyzewski if a couple of those guys could grow three inches, add 40 pounds and play in the paint.

    The battle for the center position at Duke will be a competition between Amile Jefferson and Marshall Plumlee. Both have some nice skills but neither have much experience receiving significant minutes.

    It will be interesting to see if a lack of depth in the paint becomes an Achilles heel for the Blue Devils.

Florida State: Will the Seminoles Get Back to Playing Defense?

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    Leonard Hamilton has built the program at Florida State around playing a stifling, physical brand of defense.

    The Seminoles got away from this last season, ranking in the bottom half of the ACC in most major defensive statistical categories. As a result, they finished a disappointing 18-15 and failed to reach the NCAA tournament.

    After last season's struggles, Leonard Hamilton shouldn't have any trouble getting his players to buy in to the importance of playing great defense.

    And when the Seminoles defend, they are capable of beating anyone in the league.

Georgia Tech: Are the Yellow Jackets Ready to Be More Consistent?

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    Georgia Tech's youth showed in its inconsistency last season.

    Despite some good wins, including on the road against Miami, the Yellow Jackets were unable to put together consecutive victories in conference play during the entire 2012-13 season.

    However, after having a year of playing together and going through the battles of the ACC, Brian Gregory's squad will be more prepared for the 2013-14 season.

    Talented players like Marcus Georges-Hunt, Chris Bolden and Robert Carter have Georgia Tech fans very optimistic about the future in Atlanta. The balance of the team should make it easier for them to be more consistent.

Maryland: Have the Terrapins Learned How to Take Care of the Ball?

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    There were times last season when Maryland was nothing more than a comedy of errors when it came to hanging on to the ball.

    The Terrapins ranked last in the ACC with 15 turnovers per game, and had an assist-to-turnover ratio of 0.97.

    It was a struggle as Nick Faust is not a true point guard and Pe'shon Howard and Seth Allen struggled with handling the primary ballhandling responsibilities.

    Maryland is a talented team, but that talent is negated when the Terps shoot themselves in the foot with mistakes.

Miami: Are the New Players Ready to Step Up for the Hurricanes?

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    The Miami Hurricanes that took the nation by storm during the 2012-13 season won't look anything like the 2013-14 Miami Hurricanes.

    After an incredible run that included winning the school's first ACC championship, Jim Larranaga lost his top six scorers from last season's group.

    The only returning player who received meaningful minutes last season is Rion Brown, an outside shooter who greatly benefited from the penetration ability of Shane Larkin.

    The pressure is on for a new cast of characters to keep fans interested in a Miami basketball program that generated some great momentum last season.

North Carolina: Will This Be P.J. Hairston’s Team?

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    The biggest question for the Tar Heels will need to be answered before the 2013-14 season even begins.

    After an eventful offseason that has included an arrest and NCAA investigation, North Carolina and Roy Williams are faced with a decision regarding the future of P.J. Hairston.

    North Carolina fans were excited when Hairston decided to return to Chapel Hill for his junior season, but now he may not even play another game for the Tar Heels.

    If Hairston is cleared to play, he has ACC Player of the Year potential and gives North Carolina a chance to reach the Final Four. If he doesn't make it back on the court, the Tar Heels are a borderline Top 25 team.

N.C. State: Are There Other Weapons Besides T.J. Warren for the Wolfpack?

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    Last season was supposed to be the time for N.C. State to return to top of the ACC.

    Instead, the Wolfpack struggled with expectations and consistency and finished fourth in the league standings.

    Now, Mark Gottfried is faced with the difficult task of replacing all five of his starters.

    One player he can depend on next season is T.J. Warren. Warren averaged 12.1 points per game as a freshman and gave the team a reliable post presence to go alongside Richard Howell.

    While Warren does his work in the paint, N.C. State will need other players to step up and contribute. The Wolfpack bring in a strong recruiting class and those incoming freshmen will be counted on to produce immediate results.

Notre Dame: Will the Guards Carry the Irish Through the ACC?

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    Eric Atkins and Jerian Grant gave Notre Dame one of the best backcourts in the country last season.

    Both players started in all 35 games for the Fighting Irish, with Atkins averaging 38.3 and Grant averaging 36.3 minutes per game. They provided the team with valuable experience and a steadying influence through a rugged Big East schedule.

    The decision by both players to return for their senior season gives Mike Brey one of the best guard tandems in the league.

    In a league full of great guards, having players like Atkins and Grant will help the Irish adjust to their first year in a new conference.

Pittsburgh: How Will the New Faces for the Panthers Adjust to a New Conference?

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    Prior to the end of the 2012-13 season, Pittsburgh basketball fans probably felt pretty optimistic about the upcoming transition to the ACC.

    Then, Malcolm Gilbert and Trey Ziegler transferred and Steven Adams departed for the NBA.

    Jamie Dixon has a reputation for finding unknown recruits and turning them into great players who fit the Panther mentality, but expecting that again this season is asking for a lot from a school that is transitioning to a new league.

    It will be interesting to see how the new players at Pittsburgh handle the pressure of the 2013-14 season.

Syracuse: Can Tyler Ennis Handle the Point Guard Position for the Orange?

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    Jim Boeheim has established quite a legacy of point guards during his time at Syracuse.

    Most recently, the Orange were led by Michael Carter-Williams, who helped guide the team to the 2013 Final Four before declaring for the NBA. With Carter-Williams now at the next level, Boeheim is expected to turn to Tyler Ennis, an incoming freshman.

    Ennis is a confident player who's looking forward to the challenge of becoming the team's primary point guard and he should benefit from being able to distribute the ball to talented players like C.J. Fair.

    If Ennis provides steady point guard play, expect to see the Orange competing for the top spot in the ACC standings.

Virginia: Will the Cavaliers Win on the Road?

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    When they were playing at home last season, the Cavaliers were one of the best teams in the country. Virginia finished the season with an 18-1 record at John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville.

    The problems came when the Cavaliers had to hit the road, where they finished the season with a 3-8 record.

    With experienced players like Joe Harris and Akil Mitchell, Virginia should be much stronger on the road in the 2013-14 season.

    If the Cavaliers can be successful away from home, they could be one of college basketball's biggest surprises next season.

Virginia Tech: Is James Johnson Building a Solid Foundation for the Future?

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    There's not much buzz around the Virginia Tech basketball program right now.

    After always living on the NCAA tournament bubble during the Seth Greenberg era, Virginia Tech fired Greenberg and hired former assistant James Johnson to take over the program prior to the 2012-13 season.

    The Hokies were competitive during Johnson's first year as head coach but they only finished with four conference wins.

    Johnson isn't on the hot seat because it's only his second year but he definitely needs to show that he has the program headed in a positive direction to make sure fans don't lose interest.

Wake Forest: Are the Demon Deacons Good Enough to Save Jeff Bzdelik?

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    It was one of the biggest surprises of the offseason when Wake Forest's Athletic Director, Ron Wellman, announced Jeff Bzdelik would be returning to Wake Forest as the head coach for the 2013-14 season.

    After winning only 11 conference games in his first three years as coach of the Demon Deacons, many expected Bzdelik to be fired following the 2012-13 season.

    Instead, he gets another year to get Wake Forest back on track and moving towards being relevant in the ACC.

    However, with such poor results in his first three seasons, Bzedlik's team likely needs to show significant improvement in order for him to remain at the helm for the future.

    Whether or not the Demon Deacons can make that leap remains to be seen.