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ACC Men’s Basketball Preseason Power Rankings: How does UVA stack up?

How does Virginia compare to the rest of the ACC this season?

Photo courtesy of Virginia Athletics

The ACC is coming off a relatively disappointing year in college hoops. Just five ACC teams made the NCAA tournament, and only Miami made a deep run with the Virginia Cavaliers getting bounced in the first round.

Following another wave of notable coaching retirements and a busy transfer portal, the ACC is full of fresh faces ready to prove themselves this season. Tip-off is less than two weeks away, so we ranked each team in a conference that’s looking to restore its prestigious reputation.

15. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

On top of Coach Mike Brey’s retirement, Notre Dame lost their entire starting corps to the transfer portal. They finished second to last in the ACC last year, and their trajectory isn’t exactly headed upwards. This year’s team will have decent size, starting three players above 6’7”, including athletic Penn State transfer Kebba Nije. Cracking the Top-12 in the conference would be a remarkable feat for this incredibly inexperienced team, but it’s unlikely that they make it anywhere near the NCAA tournament.

14. Louisville Cardinals

The Cardinals are coming off of a historically disastrous season, winning just two ACC games and finishing with a 4-28 record overall. They turned the ball over on an astounding 22% of possessions, and finished 290th out of 363 Division I teams in KenPom’s Advanced Efficiency Metric. The post-Pitino years have been marked by instability, as Louisville is onto its fourth head coach since 2017. With that being said, look out for a potential breakout from USC transfer wing Tre White, who should add some much needed scoring and defense. If head coach Kenny Payne wants to keep his job, the Cardinals have to remove themselves from the basement of the ACC.

13. Boston College Eagles

Boston College hasn’t made the NCAA Tournament since 2009. This year’s quest will be an uphill battle, with a projected starting lineup that struggled to shoot the three-ball last year. Fortunately for the Eagles, starting-center Quentin Post is back, and he should be the focal point of the offense, leading the team in scoring on a nightly basis.

12. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

After winning the ACC Tournament in 2021, Georgia Tech has finished in the bottom-three of the ACC in consecutive years, with a sub-500 record both seasons. They fired former ACC coach of the year Josh Pastner, and replaced him with Damon Stoudamire from Rutgers. With a couple of intriguing transfer additions, such as guards Amaree Abram and Kowacie Reeves, as well as some fifth-year depth pieces, the Yellow Jackets could climb their way into the Top-10 of the ACC.

11. Florida State Seminoles

It’s been a wild few years for what was once one of the most consistent programs in the ACC. Injuries, highly-recruited busts, and transfers have derailed Leonard Hamilton’s teams since 2021. Yet the Seminoles can’t be counted out this season. Florida State’s talent, with guards like Darin Green and Cam’Ron Fletcher, as well as Hamilton’s coaching pedigree is enough to keep them from the bottom of the ACC. If their bench pieces can add some legitimate depth, they have a fighting chance to make the NCAA tournament.

10. Virginia Tech Hokies

The Hokies disappointed last season, missing out on the Big Dance for the first time under Mike Young. Virginia Tech has established an identity with scrappy guards who can knock down threes in bursts, with veteran guards Sean Pedulla and Hunter Cattoor filling that role this season. If Virginia Tech can return to defensive form and hit on a few key transfers, they may find themselves back in the NCAA Tournament once again.

9. Wake Forest Demon Deacons

The Demon Deacons have been led by back-to-back superstar guards they found in the transfer portal, with Alondes Williams in 2021 and Tyree Appleby in 2022. Hunter Sallis, a former five-star recruit from Gonzaga, has the potential to be the next marquee guard for Steve Forbes’ squad. Similar to NC State, Wake Forest totes one of the ACC’s best offenses, which enables them to beat any team on any given day. If transfer center Efton Reid is granted eligibility to play this season, then Wake could ascend even higher.

8. Pittsburgh Panthers

The Panthers surprised a lot of ACC fans last year, finishing 14-6 in conference play, while Jeff Capel was the ACC Coach of the Year. Pitt’s backcourt is young, but forward Blake Hinson can light it up from outside, and 6’11” center Federiko Federiko will be swatting shots left and right. The guards will have to be more than mere complementary pieces for Pitt to be more than a middle-of-the-pack ACC team.

7. NC State Wolfpack

The Wolfpack showcased one of the most exciting offenses in the country last year, but defensive incompetence kept them from making any serious noise. High-scoring guards Terquavion Smith and Jarkel Joiner are gone, but Arizona State transfer DJ Horne should pick up where they left off as a volume scorer. Meanwhile, massive center DJ Burns can go body-to-body with anyone in the ACC. If the Wolfpack can fix their defensive woes, they’ll be a very difficult matchup for other ACC opponents.

6. Syracuse Orange

After a remarkable 47 year tenure, Coach Jim Boeheim is finally stepping down from the helm. For that reason, many might not expect much from this squad. There will be a learning curve in the first few months as Coach Adrian Autry establishes his system, which will involve mostly scrapping the patented Syracuse 2-3 zone defense. But the addition of JJ Starling gives Syracuse one of the most young, exciting, two-guard combos in the league. If sophomores Starling and Judah Mintz can improve after stellar freshman seasons, then Syracuse will be a dangerous team come February and March.

5. Clemson Tigers

The Tigers were picked to finish 11th in the ACC last season and Brad Brownell’s coaching seat was scorching hot coming into the year. But, they exceeded expectations, finishing 4th in the ACC while just narrowly missing the NCAA tournament. Led by star big man PJ Hall and point guard Chase Hunter, Clemson is set to continue where they left off last year, potentially making a deeper run in March.

4. North Carolina Tar Heels

The Tar Heels were a disaster last season. They fell from preseason #1 overall to not even making the Field of 68. Many expected the whole core of the team to transfer out, but elite big man Armando Bacot and combo guard RJ Davis decided to run it back. Adding Cormac Ryan, a sharpshooter from Notre Dame, as well as five-star point guard Elliot Cadeau gives UNC the talent and experience to return to form and compete for an ACC title.

3. Virginia Cavaliers

The Cavalier’s 2022-23 campaign ended in disappointment, but it was filled with many highs: such as capturing Tony Bennett’s 6th ACC regular season title. Virginia lost many pieces from one of the oldest teams in the nation, point guard Kihei Clark, standout transfer additions Jayden Gardner and Armaan Franklin, and unfortunately big men Isaac Traudt and Kadin Shedrick.

However, Reece Beekman is back. After testing the NBA draft waters, the ACC DPOY chose to return to Virginia to lead a young, talented ‘Hoos team in his final season. Merrimack grad transfer Jordan Minor should fill in as an undersized five man, while St. Thomas transfer Andrew Rohde will provide shooting and scoring. But potential breakout sophomore seasons from Isaac McKneely and Ryan Dunn (and possibly Leon Bond) will determine just how far Virginia can go.

2. Miami Hurricanes

Back-to-back deep runs in the NCAA Tournament — an Elite Eight and Final Four appearance — land Miami as a popular pick to win the ACC. Miami has built a reputation for striking gold in the transfer portal (with the help of some hefty NIL deals). Despite losing two studs in Isaiah Wong and Jordan Miller, Miami will maintain its offensive firepower through Nigel Pack and FSU transfer Matthew Cleveland, while Norchad Omier will continue to grind and sweat for every last rebound until the whistle blows. Maintaining their elite-level guard play will be the biggest question surrounding the Hurricanes this season. After all, college basketball analyst Jon Rothstein says it best, “Miami basketball, more guards than Shawshank.”

1. Duke Blue Devils

Coach K might be gone, but Duke is here to stay. Similar to last year’s Virginia team, Duke has the advantage of roster continuity, returning four of their top scorers from last season, rather unusual for Duke teams in the past decade. Star sophomore forward Kyle Fillipowski will be a popular pick for ACC player of the year. The duo of senior guard Jeremy Roach and sophomore guard Tyrese Proctor will provide scoring, play-making, and the ability to perform in clutch moments. The addition of a few four and five star freshman elevates Duke to being a true national title contender. One of the most talented squads in the nation looks to build on their momentum from the end of last season.