ACC play is about to get into gear and it’s time to starting thinking about what we have to look forward to as well as expectations. My partner Art did a great job of writing up individual profiles and updates of expectations for each ACC school. I would like to keep a broader of a view and try to answer a few questions on the top of my mind heading into ACC play.
- Who ends Duke’s run at perfection? Regardless of your fan affiliation you have to admit Duke has been impressive in non-conference play at 11-0. As impressive as they’ve been, I don’t think they are going to run the table in the ACC. I think Miami is going to be rushing the court January 23rd when they host #1 Duke. Miami matched up well with Duke’s big men, both in size and experience. Led by Durand Scott I think they also have guards who can keep up with Duke for forty minutes. Yes, I am aware Miami just lost to Indiana State. Statement stands. And yes, @ NC State would have been the easier pick, but I don’t think NC State has what it takes (experience) to put together forty minutes against Duke.
- Who of the current bottom four ACC teams has the best chance to make the tournament? Half of this question is very simple considering I don’t think Boston College and Wake Forest will combine for more than 5 ACC wins (they play each other twice). That leaves us with Florida State and Clemson. Each of these two teams has not signature win and some terrible loses, not exactly something the selection committee would be impressed with. These teams are pretty much equal but I am going to pick Florida State to climb out of the basement based on skill.
- Who of the current top four ACC teams is most likely to fall out of the top half of ACC teams? I have to go with Georgia Tech on this one. Tech might have some upper classmen, but they don’t have the talent it takes to consistently win in ACC play. This team was 11-20 last year. They’ve made some improvements, I still have doubts they stay in the top half of a relatively strong ACC.
- Who ends up with a more disappointing season? NC State or UNC? My prediction for these two teams is both make the tournament but neither matches preseason expectations. This, in my opinion, would make NC State’s season an overall more disappointing season considering expectations of a top 10 year. UNC lost more talent than any other team in the ACC from last year to this year and expectations should never have been as high as they were going into the season. I look forward to seeing how these two teams perform against ACC competition.
- And, of course because this is a Terrapin central blog, what are we looking for from Maryland? I can’t wait to see how the freshmen react to ACC level talent. The Terps soft non-conference schedule has limited the young players’ exposure to true challenges. I am particularly interested to see if Seth Allen can keep his composure at point and if Mitchell/Cleare can establish themselves in the paint. Another thing to look for is if Layman can step it up on defense and cause some height mismatches. If the Terps can limit the turnovers and continue to rebound they are going to be a tough team to beat in the ACC.
Overall in the ACC this year I think there is more balance than in previous years. Because of the balance there will be some great games to watch and a lot of moving up and down the ACC ranks. I, for one, am looking forward to another great ACC season.