In a year which North Carolina won their second national title in five years, as well as Duke returning to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2006, the ACC this year is going to be once again buzzing with exciting players, outstanding freshman, and of course great coaches.
In 2008-09, the ACC sent Florida State, Boston College, Maryland, Wake Forest, Clemson, North Carolina, and Duke to the Big Dance while Miami and Virginia Tech were represented in the NIT.
Virginia sent former coach Dave Leiato packing after four seasons and brought in Tony Bennett from Washington State, where he took the Cougars to the Sweet 16 in 2008.
So without further ado, here’s the ACC Preseason Power Rankings:
1. North Carolina (34-4 in 2008-09) The Tar Heels, coming off their national championship run last season as well as the Heels’ third straight regular season ACC title.
And much like after their 2005 title, the Tar Heels will have a different look, returning only one starter in Deon Thompson, who averaged 10.6 points per game and 5 rebounds. At the point will be Larry Drew, who will have the keys to the offense with the departure of Ty Lawson, Joining him in the backcourt more than likely will be either Dexter Strickland or Marcus Ginyard.
Doc’s Prediction: Final Four
2. Duke (30-7) After reaching the round of 16 for the first time since 2006, the Blue Devils look to build on that with the return of All-American Kyle Singler and Jon Scheyer. Singler last season averaged 16.5 points per game while Scheyer averaged 14 a game for the Blue Devils. Scheyer looks to develop into a playmaker in Durham while Singler is expected to improve on his NBA prospectus.
Doc’s Prediction: Elite Eight
3. Georgia Tech (12-19) Derrick Favors, one of the top recruits in the country, may have saved Paul Hewitt’s job when he signed with the Ramblin’ Wreck. The 6-10 Atlanta native brings size and depth to an already strong frontcourt led by Ganai Lawal, who pulled his name out of NBA Draft consideration. Expect this team to be in the upper tier in the ACC and dancing in March.
Doc’s Prediction: Two and Out.
4. Clemson (23-9) Since 2006-07, the Tigers have won 25, 24, and 23 games and improved on their winning percentage every year since Purnell has been head coach.
This year, with the Tigers saying so long to K.C. Rivers, who averaged 14 points for the Tigers, they will rely on senior Trevor Booker, who is a beast down in the post and the playmaking skills of Demontez Still, who averaged three assists a game. Another banner year is in store for the Tigers as well as another 20-win season.
Doc’s Prediction: Two and Out
5. Maryland (21-14) After a rocky schedule in the ACC in 2009, the Terps managed somehow to make the NCAA Tournament where they would lose to Memphis in the second round.
Somehow the Terps’ success lies on the shoulders of Grevais Vasquez, who averaged 17.5 points for Maryland and returned to College Park for his senior year after testing the draft waters. He will be joined by big man Jordan Williams, who is a find for Williams, after being ranked 85th in the country by Rivals.com.
Doc’s Prediction: One and Done
6. Florida State (25-10) The Seminoles returned to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1998, losing in the first round to Wisconsin. Gone is Toney Douglass, who went on to the NBA and in comes in Michael Snaer, who is one-half of the McDonald’s All-Americans that signed with the Seminoles. Joining Snaer will be Chris Singleton, who has an ability to stretch defenses.
Doc’s Prediction: One and Done
7. Boston College (22-12) Another 20-win season, another NCAA Tournament, Skinner’s skill in getting diamonds in the rough has paid off in his 12 years in Chestnutt Hill.
Doc’s Prediction: NIT
8. Wake Forest (24-7) There’s a difference in losing to Memphis in the NCAA Tournament and losing to Cleveland State. One difference is the Memphis basketball program has tradition. Cleveland State does not.
After the Vikings defeated the Deacons, it was back to the drawing board for Wake, as they lost Jeff Teague and James Johnson to the NBA Draft. The good news from this is that they return L.D. Williams and Al-Farouq Aminu to Winston-Salem. But not to the NCAA this year.
Doc’s Prediction: NIT
9. Miami (19-13) Miami has made strides since joining the ACC, however at best the Canes have been in the middle of the pack. With the loss of Jack McClinton, the Canes will look to Dwayne Collins and Cyrus McGowan for leadership and production.
Doc’s Prediction: No postseason.
10. Virginia Tech (19-15) In the last three seasons, the Hokies have gone to an NCAA Tournament and a pair of NIT’s under Seth Greenberg. But that was done with players like A.D. Vassallo and Deron Washington.
Now after another trip to the NIT, the Hokies are going to have to try and scrape up another postseason berth without Vassallo. However, the Hokies will still have guard Jeff Allen to bail them out in games as well as Malcolm Delaney, who is halfway to 2,000 points in his career.
Doc’s Prediction: No Postseason
11. North Carolina State (16-14) Sidney Lowe has been lying in the weeds as coach at North Carolina State. His first team made the NIT, but it’s been followed by a 15-16 record and a 16-14 ledger in 2008-09.
The Pack could have gotten Raleigh native John Wall, but he ends up going to Kentucky, so it’s sharp-shooting Javier Gonzalez and Lorenzo Brown, who was one of the top point guards in the country in the class of 2009. Expect the Pack to take some lumps in 2009-10.
Doc’s Prediction: No postseason
12. Virginia (10-18) Tony Bennett trades in the Pacific Northwest for Charlottesville, where the Cavaliers finished 10-18 last season, which resulted in the firing of Dave Leiato. Bennett is no stranger to reclamation projects, something that he did at Washington State, where he led the Cougars to the Sweet 16 in 2008.
He has a pretty good squad to inherit, with Sylven Landesberg, who is capable of scoring 2,000 points. Last season, the sophomore was fourth nationally among freshman scorers, averaging 16.6 points a game for the Cavaliers.
He’s expected to post some more big numbers, but it won’t be enough for the Wahoos.
D0c’s Prediction: No postseason
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