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ACC Team Previews: Notre Dame

If Notre Dame has problems in their first season in the ACC, it won't be due to lack of talent. They have a senior backcourt duo as good as anybody in the nation, and a deep, solid front court. Mike Brey's teams always play well at home, and they get their toughest matchups in South Bend. They could challenge for the ACC title.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Last Season Record: 25-10 (11-7 Big East)
Preseason ACC Media Poll: 5th

Projected Starters:
Jerian Grant, G, Senior
Eric Atkins, G, Senior
Pat Connaughton, G, Junior
Cameron Biedscheid, F, Sophomore
Tom Knight, F, Senior

Key Reserves:
Garrick Sherman, C, Senior
Zack Auguste, F, Sophomore
V.J. Beachem, F, Freshman
Demetrious Jackson, G, Freshman

Notre Dame is getting an abrupt welcome to the ACC, facing the Blue Devils in their conference opener. The game is at home, where the Irish have been tough to beat under head coach Mike Brey. The Irish were a 7 seed in the NCAA tourney last year, and lose just one real contributor from that team, double-double machine Jack Cooley.

Last year's leading scorer and top assist man is Grant, and he's back and figures to lead the team again. He's an efficient scorer who also boasted one of the top assist rates in the nation. He and Atkins are sort of co-poing guards, as both are capable ball-handlers and had nearly identical assist totals. Grant is a better scorer, but Atkins is a better shooter. He made 42% of his 3s last season, while Grant made just 34%. Jackson is another PG, and the burger boy will put in minutes behind both of them.

Knight and Sherman figure to replace much of the lost production from Cooley, with Auguste also chipping in on the boards. Sherman began his career at Michigan State and has proven himself a capable scorer, largely on the offensive glass. Auguste begins the season with a broken hand and could miss as much as a month or more. Beachem will take some of his minutes early in the season, assuming he can handle the load.

Connaughton and Biedscheid are basically shooters who don't do a whole lot else. Connaughton is the best shooter on the team, and at 6'5" 220 is also strong enough to play inside from time to time. Biedscheid is more athletic, but never really got comfortable last year, and lost minutes down the stretch.

Behind Grant and Atkins, Notre Dame is going to be successful. Mike Brey's teams always defend, so there's no doubt about that side of the ball. For some reason, his teams haven't performed very well in the tournament, but they consistently get there and that's not likely to change in their first year in the ACC.