A national championship team needs to put together the right blend of talent and experience and even then, its a shot in the dark. Look no further than UNC a season ago. With 4 NBA first round picks the Heels season crumbled when Kendall Marshall broke his wrist in the NCAA Tournament. Even though UNC fell short, they had all of the pieces. Is there a team this season that should have national title hopes?
I have a feeling a certain fanbase in Raleigh answered, "yes". After all, NC State is certainly talented and who can deny the experience that the Pack picked up making a run to the Sweet 16 a year ago? On top of that NC State added a highly touted freshman class, but let's rewind back to Mid-March for a second. On March 10th, NC State played in the ACC tournament semifinal against UNC. CJ Leslie fouled out with 8 minutes left (seems like forever ago) and NC State's chances seemed slim. NC State ultimately fought back in that game but just missed out on an opportunity to play in the ACC Tourney Championship game against FSU. Ultimately, NC State was the very last team announced on Selection Sunday. If NC State wasn't selected that Sunday, where would your expectations be? NC State was that close to not making the tournament.
Duke and UNC are perennial contenders but both have question marks. UNC is looking to replace 4 NBA first round picks with players stepping into larger roles or freshmen. Duke needs to learn how to effectively play a pressure defense that their hall of fame coach has trademarked over the years.
Ultimately, there is a NCAA Title Contender recipe that you can compare your team to to determine if they are a contender or pretender. In general, if there are 3 or more NBA players on your roster then you have a good shot at a national championship. If you have 2 NBA players on your roster, then you have a shot but it will take a greater team effort for your team to become a national title contender. If you have just 1 NBA player, then your margin of error is even smaller. Let's go through team by team in the ACC and see if any of the teams are contenders.
- Boston College: Ryan Anderson has the right combination of size and skill, but his athleticism is a fringe NBA skill at best
- Clemson: None
- Duke: If Miles Plumlee is a NBA player than Mason likely is as well. The only other NBA caliber player on the roster is Rodney Hood and he isn't eligible due to transfer rules. There are a lot of fringe guys on the Duke roster that will have to continue to progress to get to the league including Alex Murphy and Rasheed Sulaimon.
- FSU: Michael Snaer is a fringe guy due to his size.
- Georgia Tech: None
- Maryland: Seth Greenberg said Alex Len is a NBA player so I'll add him to the list. I really like Nick Faust but his game still has to come a little bit farther before I can add him here.
- Miami: Kenny Kadji is a pro without a doubt in my mind. Other than that, Rion Brown stands out as a guy that could warrant attention, but his game needs to progress.
- North Carolina: James Michael McAdoo is a NBA talent in the same mold as Mason Plumlee, lots of athleticism but needs to add the skill to go with it. Marcus Paige is young but said to be the real deal, hard for me to add him to this list. The other guy for UNC that might deserve to be here is Reggie Bullock but consistency is needed before I could write him down in pen.
- NC State: If head matched skill, Calvin Leslie is a no brainer here. Lorenzo Brown may be good enough as well, but his perimeter shooting needs to come a lot further before he is a NBA player. Rodney Purvis is undersized for the NBA game at the shooting guard position.
- Virginia: Justin Anderson is just a freshman but he has the pro body already, do the skills and worth ethic match?
- Virginia Tech: Erick Green is a solid player, but ask yourself this: If Malcolm Delaney can't make it in the league, can Green?
- Wake Forest: CJ Harris fans, see the comment above on Green. I really like Travis McKie and hope the guy makes it into the league, but he's simply undersized for the skillset he has today. Wake has some interesting freshmen, but nothing close to NBA talent at this time.
You might ask why are NBA caliber players so important to national title teams? The answer is simple, those guys are matchup problems on offense and cover your mistakes on defense.