Just SIX days remain (YOU KNOW, THE SAME NUMBER AS WINS OUR BOWL ELIGIBLE FOOTBALL TEAM HAS) until the Virginia basketball team kicks off the 2017-18 campaign at JPJ against UNC-Greensboro, so today we’re going to look at the ACC and how many teams should make it into the NCAA tournament this season.
Let’s get to it.
Duke - The Blue Devils have a collection of some of the best if not the best freshmen in the country. They were named preseason #1 in both the Coaches and AP polls. Oh, and Grayson Allen is back for another season.
North Carolina - The Tar Heels are reigning champs, and return a lot of key pieces like Theo Pinson, Luke Maye, and Joel Berry II. Berry will miss a few games thanks to his inability to control his emotions after losing at video games, but they’ll be good again.
Louisville - The David Padgett era is upon us. Before being unceremoniously fired for yet another embarrassing scandal, Rick Pitino put together a really strong team. The pieces are all there, and they shouldn’t have any issues getting into the tournament - Pitino or no Pitino.
Notre Dame - Bonzie Colson is back, and that’s enough for me. The Irish are going to be good.
Virginia - You may hate me for putting the Hoos down here, but until I see this team actually play a team that isn’t Virginia, I’m going to recognize there are a lot of inexperienced players on this team. They’re most likely a ‘lock’ but basketball (and sports) is insane so I’m going to say I’m really, really, really sure they’ll go dancing.
Miami - The Hurricanes are another team that probably belong in ‘locks’, but they’re going to live in the ‘sure bets’ for now. Bruce Brown is one of the best in the league, and Ja’Quan Newton is fun to watch. I think they will be “locks” very soon.
Work to Do
Virginia Tech - Others are higher on the Hokies in their rankings (looking at you, CBS), but our...acquaintances...in Blacksburg have been bitten by the injury bug some. Chris Clarke’s health will be one to watch. Coach Williams has been non-committal (understandably) in his answers regarding his return, and there’s even a possibility that Clarke redshirts. They should be in for their second straight year, but they’ll have to win some big games.
Georgia Tech - The Jackets just suspended sophomore Josh Okogie and senior Tadric Jackson after self-reporting NCAA violations. They are a big loss for the Jackets (and should return soon, but, NCAA), so reigning ACC Coach of the Year Josh Pastner will have to show his chops.
Syracuse - Who freaking knows. The Orange will have Tyus Battle and Frank Howard back, but have a lot of inexperience. Could go dancing, could be seeing action in the NIT.
Clemson - Jaron Blossomgame is (finally) gone, and the Tigers will need someone(s) to step up in his place. KenPom has them going 9-9 in conference, so I’ll go with that. If they pull that off with a couple big upsets, they should be on the right side of the bubble.
Florida State - The Seminoles are another team with a lot of turnover. They loose XRM, Dwayne Bacon (thank goodness), and Jonathan Isaacs, but bring in another class of long, athletic players. They don’t have an “official” point guard as all of their players are basically 6-7, super athletic dudes that can fill in as ball handler. FSU will be a tough out, but should have to do some work down the stretch.
Wake Forest - KenPom has them finishing just under .500 in conference play at 8-10, but with a guy like Bryant Crawford on the squad, don’t count out the Demon Deacons.
Make Other Plans
Boston College - Ky Bowman and Jerome Robinson may be the best back court in the league, but they won’t be enough to carry the Eagles all the way to the tournament.
NC State - Kevin Keatts will have to make some magic happen in his first year with the Wolfpack if he wants to play in the NCAA tournament (the Hoos beat his UNC-W squad in the first round last year). KenPom thinks they’ll win four games in conference. Yikes.
Pitt - No, just no.
Expect the ACC to get seven or eight teams in. Duke, I think you’ll see UNC, Miami, ND, Virginia, Louisville, Virginia Tech make it, plus Clemson, Syracuse, or GT. What do you think? Leave a comment below!