Posted by:
Ogre: Batman
Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, college basketball is back! The season tipped off on Monday, and will kick into full-gear this upcoming week with ESPN's Tip-Off Marathon and many other tournaments starting. With that in mind, I've decided to begin to publish a series of articles to coincide with the start of the season. I'm going to be releasing a preview for each conference - ACC, A10, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, C-USA, Missouri Valley, MWC, Pac10 and SEC - just about every couple days if possible. Each article will contain 3-5 storylines that are prevalent in the conference, as well as my predicted standings for the conference (with reasons).
Along the way, I encourage questions, comments and criticism, which I will address in the following article. Think of it as a less cool, less interesting, mailbag. Suggestions and requests for other conferences will also be accepted.
So up first, according to alphabetical order, is the ACC.

Conference Storylines:

Can Duke repeat as National Champions?

Across the nation, Duke has rose up as the near-unanimous choice of being the number one team in the nation. Despite losing Scheyer and Zoubek, the Blue Devils return leading Player of the Year candidate Kyle Singler, and will add transfer Seth Curry and recruit Kyrie Irving. Duke will be just as talented, possibly more so, than they were last season, and after Hummel went down, it seems the list of contenders is growing shorter. Will Duke be able to repeat?

How will Maryland do without Grevis Vasquez?

Vasquez led Maryland to a tie for the regular season ACC championship with Duke, a surprise to many. His play earned him multiple honors, such as the Bob Cousy Award, the ACC PoY aware, and a first team All-ACC selection. However, Vasquez is gone, and so is fellow senior Eric Hayes. Maryland has already suffered one scare, winning on a buzzer beater against College of Charleston. The question is, will that be a sign of things to come for the Terrapins, or will they rebound and finish strong in the ACC again?

Will Harrison Barnes (and UNC) live up to the hype?

Both Barnes and his team face huge expectations coming into the season. Barnes was selected to the preseason all American team, the first freshman to receive such an honor. His team has been selected 8th in the AP and 9th in the ESPN/USA Today polls, and has been coined as the ACC team to challenge Duke. However, we all know the meltdown that occurred in Chapel Hill last season, and one has to wonder how this team will bounce back. Will UNC prove their supporters right, and contend all season long, or will they again sputter and fall from the top?

Is Virginia Tech going to have to sweat it out on Selection Sunday?

Everyone knows about the drama that surrounds the Hokies each and every season. Virginia Tech is commonly sitting squarely on the tournament bubble, campaigning for a spot, and eventually has that bubble burst and heads to the NIT. However, this season could be different. The Hokies have no key departures, as star Malcolm Delaney withdrew his name from the NBA draft to return for a final season. Many have picked Virginia Tech to not only make the tournament, but have pinned them as a top 25 team. Will they finally break through into the tournament, or will they be left watching again?

My Projected Rankings:

1) Duke. The Blue Devils return a talented core, and are adding some players expected to be key contributors as well. The main question I see here is will Duke win the National Championship, not just the ACC title. I don't think they will necessarily run away with the conference, but they won't exactly be challenged either.

2) Virginia Tech. I think Malcolm Delaney is what will push Virginia Tech over the top and into the tournament. The talent is there for the Hokies, as just about everyone is back. With some uncertainties about UNC, I'm taking a talented and experienced Virginia Tech team, lead by one of the best players in the nation, to finish on the heels of Duke.

3) North Carolina. Harrison Barnes is a preseason all American for a reason: He's talented. But, one could also that the UNC team from last season was talented as well. The important thing is how much they get from their talent, and if UNC can keep its composure if the team happens to trip up in a game they shouldn't. I think that UNC has enough talent to finish near the top, but I don't think they have the experience and leadership that Virginia Tech and Duke have. Because of that, I'm placing them third.

4) Florida State. Florida State did lose talented big man and defensive threat Solomon Alabi.  However, Florida State lost no other key contributors, and added a recruit in Okaro White who could help fill the void left by Alabi. With the core of a team that finished tied for third in the ACC back, Florida State is predicted by some to make the jump to being a real competitor for the top spot in the ACC. I'm not one of those people, as I think the top 3 of the ACC are a step above the rest of the conference. In spite of this, I still think Florida State is very talented, the next best team in the conference even, and as such I'm picking them to finish fourth.

5) NC State. This is a make-or-break season for Coach Lowe, as another disappointing ACC season and lack of a tournament bid could lead him out the door. However, NC State returns many talented players from a team that beat Duke and earned a NIT bid last season, and adds two recruits, CJ Leslie and Ryan Harrow, that could be the most talented that Lowe has signed as coach. If NC State can pull it together, they have the talented to beat anyone in the conference, as they showed against Duke last year. However, I'm not sure how well, or often, they'll be able to do pull together, so while I think that they will make the tournament, I'm taking them fifth in the ACC.

6) Clemson. Yes, Clemson lost two talented forwards in Booker and Potter. However, Clemson already had a deep, young and talented pool of forwards behind them, and as such the loss of those two isn't really expected to be a major concern. However, as a whole this team doesn't necessarily have great, talented depth. The starting 5 for the Tigers should compete with the five teams I have ahead of them, but I think that as the season wears on. Clemson traditionally disappoints, but I think this season, they'll meet their expectation: of being an average team in the ACC.I'm just picking them sixth instead of the ACC media projection of seventh.

7) Miami (FL). Although the Hurricanes are losing their leader, Dwayne Collins, to graduation, the rest of the returning Hurricanes are talented. In the ACC tournament, during which Collins was hurt, the Hurricanes confirmed that they have talent on their team, making it to the semi-finals and losing by only 3 to Duke. While Miami doesn't have a standout front or back court, the team is balanced with solid depth. If Miami can build on their experiences in the ACC tournament last season and apply that to conference play, during which they traditionally struggle, Miami could work their way up the standings. However, I'm hesitant on putting them too high in the wide open and competitive ACC, and think that seventh is a realistic spot for the Hurricanes.
8) Maryland. Vasquez is gone, leaving Maryland without a true leader and someone they can go to in a pinch. They already have shown their weaknesses against College of Charleston (who I must point out is actually a talented team), and I think that Maryland will be beat up on in conference play especially. Without Vasquez there to put this team on his back, look for the Terrapins to look very vulnerable throughout the season, and wind up finished down near the bottom of the ACC.

9) Boston College. This team is essentially the same exact team that went 15-16 last season, with one major weakness: Rakin Sanders transferred. Sanders was a double-digit scorer last season, and predicted to be a leader and key component of the team going forward. Yes, this team is a year more experienced than last year's, but the fact is the team still isn't a very competitive one. While I don???t think they'll repeat last season, I don't see Boston College competing with the top teams in the ACC, and will most likely spend their time looking for a NIT bid, or even a CBI or CIT one.

10) Georgia Tech. Gone are Favors and Gani Lawal from this team, leaving Georgia Tech with a pressing issue: This team is small. The Yellow Jackets enter the season without a threat down low, or a defensive presence to compete with some of the big men in the conference. The backcourt isn't bad, but it doesn't jump off the page at you either. If Georgia Tech's frontcourt gets taken advantage of often, then this team has little hope. I think the lack of size and depth will be too much for them, and they'll be fighting just to stay out of the basement.

11) Virginia. The reason why Virginia won as many games as they did last season was because of their best player, Sylven Landesburg. In the offseason, Virginia went about their business as a rebuilding program: they recruited fairly well, become more acquainted with the style of play expected, and went through the motions other rebuilding programs do. The bad news: Landesburg decided to enter the NBA draft. Without Landesburg, and in full rebuilding mode, the Cavaliers realistically should just be looking to gain experience and build talent heading forward. A finish in the basement wouldn't be the worst thing, considering their situation and expectations. However, I'm not picking them quite last in the ACC.

12) Wake Forest. This team lost their starting PG, their most talented player down low (Aminu) and two other key contributors. As such, they head into the season with a very young, inexperienced and simply not that talented team. There are some incoming recruits with talent; however they most likely won't be key factors for another season or two. And if you're looking for further reason to put the Demon Deacons in the basement of the ACC, look to their first game of the season: they lost at home 89-79 to the Stetson Hatters, who only won 7 games last year. Looks like this year will be a long one for Wake Forest.

So there you have it. My thoughts on the ACC. Questions, comments or concerns? Leave them in the comments.

Also, I encourage you to join my NCAAB group. With the season starting up agian, I plan on having regular updates, articles, poll questions and such. Any member who joins will be given blogging rights and the ability to post his or her own articles. So if you're interested, click on the link below.
November 14, 2010  06:28 PM ET

Awesome blog Ogre. I can't wait for your pac-10 version.

I agree with pretty much all your rankings, but I would probably have UNC at #2. I think Harrison Barnes is going to just dominate games and lead the Tar Heels to second, even in the very deep ACC.

November 14, 2010  06:34 PM ET

Just joined your group. I'd love to do some blogging. Perhaps be the Pac-10's voice in the group? The Pac-10 is no good this year, but I'd still love to write some articles about it for the other group members to read.

November 14, 2010  06:59 PM ET

Just joined your group. I'd love to do some blogging. Perhaps be the Pac-10's voice in the group? The Pac-10 is no good this year, but I'd still love to write some articles about it for the other group members to read.

You're absolutely welcome to. The more people writing for the group the better.

I can't give you blogging rights just this second on my iPod, but you'll have them when I get the chance. Same with anyone who joins.

November 14, 2010  07:07 PM ET

You're absolutely welcome to. The more people writing for the group the better.I can't give you blogging rights just this second on my iPod, but you'll have them when I get the chance. Same with anyone who joins.

Awesome. Much appreciated.

November 14, 2010  08:35 PM ET

Does charging grocery store customers for biodegradable bags represent environmental responsibility or just corporate greed?

I don't know. Good question.

November 14, 2010  08:50 PM ET

I don't know. Good question.

I wish there was some website where we could find out.

November 16, 2010  12:29 PM ET


November 20, 2010  08:09 AM ET

nothing to say --->


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