Last year, only six teams from the ACC made it to the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. Only one team was a top three seed and only two teams were top four seeds.
Only one team made it past the second round, and that was Duke who eventually went on to win the National Championship.
Last year was a down year for the ACC, but this year will be different. North Carolina will be back and make an impact this year with a great recruiting class adding on to a more mature team.
With the improvement of most teams in the ACC, expectations for the ACC to have a great year and get more tournament bids are high.
This is a no-brainer, the defending national champions return superstars Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler. Both were crucial parts for the Blue Devils winning the national championship last year.
They also return the Plumlee brothers who are both forces on the boards. Kryie Irving is a big addition to the team as one of the top recruits in the country, while transfer student Seth Curry, brother of Stephen Curry, joins the Dukies with high hopes of making a sudden impact. With Coach K at the helm, the Blue Devils should have absolutely no trouble making the tournament. They should be thinking more about a repeat.
Virginia Tech just missed out on the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament last year, but this year Hokie fans need no worry. Va Tech returns Malcolm Delaney (last year's leading scorer in the ACC), Dorenzo Hudson and Jeff Allen. These three guys are the ACC's version of the Miami Heat with LeBron, Wade, and Bosh.
Delaney, Hudson and Allen provide supreme star power and scoring for the Hokies. J.T. Thompson should get more minutes this year and complement Jeff Allen down low with help on the boards. Virginia Tech had a poor recruiting class, but no need to worry when you are returning three of the best players in the conference.
After a shaky 2009-10 campaign where NC State missed out on the NCAA Tournament, Sidney Lowe and the Wolfpack look to rebound. And rebound they will. Sidney Lowe returns a superstar in Tracy Smith and 2 good players in Javier Gonzalez and Scott Wood. But the real reason NC State makes the tournament this year is the recruiting class. C.J. Leslie leads the class as a McDonald's all-american and Ryan Harrow is a stud point guard who could be starting by the end of the season. With a mix of young talent and senior leadership, Sidney Lowe and the Wolfpack should have high hopes of going far in this year's NCAA Tournament.
New Clemson head coach Brad Brownell is not fortunate enough to inherit star big-man Trevor Booker, but there is no need to worry. Coach Brownell still has Demontez Stitt and Tanner Smith, who became much improved players last season.
Devin Booker, younger brother of Trevor Booker, returns for his sophomore campaign to complement Jerai Grant down low. The Tigers did not have much of a recruiting class this season, but the returning talent is what keeps this team running. Brownell has had success everywhere that he has been, and that should be no different at Clemson. Tigers fans should be excited for a great season and a new era of Clemson basketball.
Last season, Florida State was one of the best defensive teams in the country and made it into the tournament as a nine seed. Look for that number to improve a little bit this season. I am not saying Florida State will be a top 10 team, but their offense should not let them down as much this season.
While Solomon Alabi will be missed, the Seminoles are returning two of their better players from last year in Chris Singleton and Michael Snaer. Florida State has a great front court between Singleton, Xavier Gibson and incoming freshman Okaro White, who will be an instant impact. Ian Miller at guard is another big recruit for the 'Noles great recruiting class. If Florida State puts all of the pieces together, they could potentially be a team that makes a good run in the NCAA tournament.
After a very disappointing 2009-10 season, Roy Williams and the Tar Heels look to turn it around. North Carolina came in very inexperienced last year, and they never seemed to pick it up as the year went on. But things seem to be different this year in Chapel Hill. Top Recruit Harrison Barnes is looking to make an instant impact and be one of the dominant freshmen in the country.
Larry Drew II and John Henson had last year to mature and improve their games and should be a force for the Tar Heels. Tyler Zeller looks to stay healthy this year to be a dominant player inside. While North Carolina does not have much leadership on the team with only one senior in Justin Knox, the Heels have the talent to make it to the NCAA tournament in 2011.
Last year Maryland was a four seed in the NCAA tournament and had a fairly decent team led by ACC Player of the Year in Greivis Vasquez. Unfortunately for Maryland, Vasquez is gone, along with fellow seniors Eric Hayes and Landon Milbourne. With Maryland not bringing back any of last year's top three scorers, things are looking pretty bad for the Terps.
But, you can never count a team coached by Gary Williams out of the NCAA tournament at the start of the season. Jordan Williams returns as a dominant post presence and the Terps top recruit, Mychal Parker, looks to make an instant impact. So before you Terp fans count your team out of the tournament, there is always hope with Gary Williams at the helm.
The University of Miami had a poor year last season going 20-13 overall, but finished just 4-12 in conference play missing out on the NCAA tournament. They return Durand Scott who averaged over 10 PPG last year, and Reggie Johnson will be a much improved big man who will use his size to be an inside presence for the Canes. Frank Haith did not hit the jackpot this year with a good recruiting class when he needed it most. He picked up three average freshman, but if one of them could make any sort of an impact, the Hurricanes could possibly be a lower-seed tourney team. At the same time, the worst-case scenario is a poor season, but at least they won't be in the cellar of the ACC this year.
Paul Hewitt had a great recruiting class last year led by Derrick Favors, but this year Derrick Favors will be playing in the NBA. Georgia Tech is one of the biggest producers of underclassmen going pro in the country. Their back court is decent led by Iman Shumpert, who was the team's third leading scorer last year. The Yellow Jackets will definitely be suffering in the frount court with the losses of Gani Lawal and Favors, who were the team's top two leading scorers last season. The Jacket's top recruit, Jason Morris, hopes to see good minutes this season and improve his game. Unless there are a few under-the-radar players on Tech who have breakout seasons this year, Yellow Jacket fans don't have much of a chance at making the NCAA tournament.
Boston College new head coach Steve Donahue looks to turn things around from last season's 15-16 record, but that looks like a tough goal. Donahue, who had success leading Cornell to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament seems like a good hire for the Eagles and is a coach who can get the team headed in the right direction. The Eagles are returning last year's leading scorer Joe Trapani, who leads the front court which is respectable. The back court, on the other hand, is the reason Boston College will not be a good team next season, Reggie Jackson is a decent player, but there were no other decent guards on the team last year, and the Eagles had a horrible recruiting class. They did not get one player who will make any sort of impact in the next four years, and there will be a rough transition this year for BC with the new coach. Barring a miracle, Boston College will not make the NCAA tournament.
New Wake Forest head coach Jeff Bzdelik will have a tough time in his first year with the Demon Deacons. Wake Forest only returns one impact player in C.J. Harris and only one senior in Gary Clark. When a team in the ACC is lacking talent and leadership, they are destined for a bad season. On the bright side, the Demon Deacons did have a really good recruiting class. Lead by J.T. Terrell, they got commitments from four top 100 players according to ESPN, including Travis McKie, Carson Desrosiers and Melvin Tabb. While these guys will not make much of an impact this season, Jeff Bzdelik seems to have the Deacs headed in the right direction.
Head coach Tony Bennett returns for his second season with the Cavaliers. There are only six returning players to the team, and none of them are anything to write home about. Virginia loses superstar Sylven Landesberg, who was the team last year scoring 17 PPG to lead the Cavs, Returning senior Mike Scott is a decent player who will lead the Cavs this year after averaging 12 PPG last year. K.T. Harrell and James Johnson are two decent recruits, but they will make no impact as freshmen playing in the ACC. The Virginia Cavaliers are in a rebuilding process, and they will struggle a lot this season. Virginia has no chance at making the NCAA tournament this year.