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ACC Basketball Preview

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The ACC figures to become the strongest conference in the country with two Final Four teams (Syracuse, North Carolina) from 2016 as well as the odds on favorite to win the national championship in Duke.

This conference features four Hall of Fame coaches and lot of five star players coming to campuses this fall that will make for another great season in the ACC.

1. Duke
The Blue Devils return third team All-American Grayson Allen and Amile Jefferson who was averaging a double-double (11.4 ppg, 10.3 rpg) before he suffered a foot injury that ended his season. The Blue Devils added the top two recruits in the nation in forwards Harry Giles and Jayson Tatum who have the size and skill to complement the shooting of Duke’s perimeter players. That is what makes them a clear cut favorite to win the national championship in April.

2. Virginia
Although the Cavs lost Malcolm Brogdon (18.2 ppg) and Anthony Gill (13.8 ppg., 6.1 rpg), Tony Bennett’s squad still has the talent to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. Some may argue that the defense is stronger than ever with Memphis transfer Austin Nichols and Mamadi Diakite, a redshirt freshman, who both have shot blocking skills to go add to Bennett's defensive system. Senior London Perrantes is one of the best three point shooters in the country.

3. Lousiville
The Cardinals lost three starters, but they did receive a five star recruit in 6-7 freshman V.J. King. They also return a strong sophomore class led by Quintin Snyder and Donavan Mitchell. King is an x-factor because scouts have questioned his killer instinct and assertiveness at time. With their frontcourt depth they could overwhelm most teams in the conference and in the NCAA tournament.

4. North Carolina
Even with the losses of Marcus Paige and Brice Johnson the Tar Heels have enough talent to be competitive in the ACC. They return Joel Berry, Justin Jackson and Kennedy Meeks, among others, that are ready to contribute at a high level. Their only weakness is three point shooting. UNC was ranked Freshman Tony Bradley has to contribute right away to make up for Johnson’s production on the boards.

5. Syracuse
Jim Boeheim’s squad will have a lot of new faces from their Final Four team this coming season. Gone are Michael Gbinije (17.5 ppg.), Trevor Cooney (12.9 ppg.) and Malachi Richardson (13.4 ppg.). They need contribution from Franklin Howard, who has the length and athleticism to play Jim Boeheim’s system, but he needs to improve his shooting. They return most of their frontcourt depth in Tyler Roberson and Tyler Lydon.

6. NC State
The Wolfpack have high hopes because of the arrivals of Turkish import Omer Yurtseven and five-star stud Dennis Smith. The Wolfpack also add Charlotte transfer Torrin Dean. Big junior Abdul-Malik Abu (12.9 ppg., 8.8 rpg.) will compliment Yurtseven perfectly and if his game develops continues to develop, it could make the Wolfpack a legitimate threat to make a run to the Sweet 16.

7. Clemson
Brad Brownell has his best offensive team since he has been at Clemson, and he is looking to build on a run last season that saw them beat Miami, Duke, Loisiville among others. The key is Jordan Blosssomgame, a quintessential “Stretch 4” and an ACC Player of the Year candidate.

8. Virginia Tech
The Hokies had a strong finish to the season and even got a win in the NIT Tournament. With only one departure from a young talented roster, they hope to get their first tournament win in ten seasons. They will depend on Zach LeDay in the post and the development of Justin Robinson at point guard.

9. Miami
Miami lost a lot of talent from their Elite 8 team last season. Gone are key contributors Sheldon McClellan,  Angel Rodriguez and  Tonye Jekiri but they did land Dewan Huell, a 6-9 top 25 prospect, the highest rated player Jim Larranaga has ever signed. Any chance for them to get back into the tournament will depend on Senior Davon Reed (11.1 ppg., 4.1 rpg., 38.3% 3pt.), their best known commodity on the perimeter. With McCellan gone he will get more of an opportunity to shine.

10. Florida State
The Seminoles were in the NIT for the 3rd time in 4 years last season. Coach Leonard Hamilton would like to see Dwyane Bacon step up and be more assertive with the ball as well, as Xavier Rathan-Mayes step up his level back to his production in the first half of last season. If the Seminoles can improve offensive efficiency they could make it back to the big dance for the first time since 2012.

11. Wake Forest
The Demon Deacons struggled with offensive efficiency during ACC play last season but sophomore point guard Bryant Crawford, John Collins and Konstantinos Mitoglou will make a solid combination in the paint. If Wake can maintain some consistency throughout the ACC schedule they may secure a postseason berth.

12. Pitt
New coach Kevin Stallings inherited a solid tandemt in Micheal Young and James Artis. However, this season he may experience growing pains at the wings and at point guard with the loss of James Robinson. Senior Sheldon Jeter (8.1 ppg., 4.8 rpg) s extremely active and mobile, and he will be a valuable rim protector.

13. Notre Dame
The Irish lost their two best players from last season and they will need to find new contibutors again in order to remain competitive for coach Mike Brey.

14. Georgia Tech
Georgia Tech made an NIT appearance last season but the still brought in Josh Pastnor to be the head coach. Pastnor brought in a commit from Memphis but the talent is not what you call up to standard for the ACC.

15. Boston College
Boston College should show some improvement from last season. Western Michigan transfer Conner Tavashould help.

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