Sunday, 28 October 2007

2007 ACC Basketball Preview

Thankfully, it is that time of year again... just about time for the college basketball season. I'll try to preview each of the major conferences in the next couple weeks, starting with the ACC.

First, what to watch for with each team:

Boston College - For the first time in a while, they won't be the experienced, fundamental team. After losing Jared Dudley and Sean Marshall BC will be very young. They're led by Tyrese Rice, a great distributor who also has tons of range.

Clemson - The last 2 years they have gotten off to fast starts before fizzling. Things should be better this year, as they return 4 starters and a lot of experience. Two keys are KC Rivers, who's an explosive scorer for them, and James Mays, a great post defender. Mays deciding not to go to the Draft was huge.

Duke - Last year wasn't quite the year we've come to expect from Duke, but they should be very good this year. They lose Josh McRoberts, but they return everyone else while adding some solid freshmen, most notably Kyle Singler. They'll be more experienced, a little quicker, and should be better offensively. They could compete in the ACC if things go right.

Florida St. - They could have a tough go of it after the loss of Al Thornton. Still, the solid perimeter trio of Toney Douglas, Jason Rich, and Isaiah Swann will keep them in games. They need freshmen big mean Solomon Adabi and Julian Vaughn to provide some production inside.

Georgia Tech - They lose the immensely talented guys Javaris Crittenton and Thaddeus Young, but they won't be pushovers in the ACC. They don't have any stars, but they just have a solid of solid players. Wings Lewis Clinch and Anthony Morrow should contribute well in the scoring column to help complement their solid frontcourt play.

Maryland - They lost some key cogs from last year, but they should be able to make up for a lot of that with their returnees. Most notable among them is PG Greveis Vasquez, who impressed as a true freshman last year. He'll be joined in the backcourt by Eric Hayes, another guy who is very adept at handling the basketball. Up front, explosive senior James Gist will have to be big. Other than these guys, Maryland could be relying on a lot of inexperience.

Miami - They had some injuries last year, which gave a lot of different guys experience, which should pay dividends this year. Most notably returning is Jack McClinton, who averaged 16.7 PPG for the Hurricanes last year. Miami definitely has the talent and experience to compete for an NCAA Tournament berth.

North Carolina - The Heels will again be loaded. They're obviously led by Tyler Hansbrough, one of the best players in the country. But the real key here is the backcourt of Tywon Lawson and Wayne Ellington, who will be counted on heavily on both ends of the floor. If the Tar Heels can become more consistent defensively, they will compete for the national title, as shown by their #1 preseason ranking.

North Carolina State - After finishing strong last year, things appear to be bright in Sidney Lowe's second year. They lose Elgin Atsur, which leaves a hole at PG, but they return a lot of experienced talent. PF Brandon Costner is one of the best players in the ACC. Gavin Grant had to play out of position often last year, but he'll be back at SF. If they can get consistent PG play they might be able to challenge for the ACC Title.

Virginia - The loss of JR Reynolds will be tough to overcome, but they still have Sean Singletary, an explosive offensive guard. But the keys to this team are the production from Mamadi Diane, and the overall emphasis on defense. They'll have to replace Reynolds' and Jason Cain's prodction on both ends of the court, which won't be easy. They might not have as much success as they did last year, but they should be right in the middle of things for a Tournament berth.

Virginia Tech - After losing their 2 excellent guards, it could be a long year for the Hokies. They have some talent, but unfortunately most of it is really young. Their best player in wing man Deron Washington, who is one of the most athletic guys in the country. If he can provide consistent offensive production, the Hokies can be a middle-of-the-pack team in the ACC.

Wake Forest - It's going to be a very tough year for the Demon Deacons. Not only did they lose a lot of players, but they lost their coach Skip Prosser, who tragically died in the offseason. It might not be pretty at times. One guy to watch is freshman PG Jeff Teague, who should log a lot of minutes this year.

All-Conference Team
Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina
Brandon Costner, NC State
Deron Washington, Virginia Tech
Sean Singletary, Virginia
Tyrese Rice, Boston College

Player of the Year: Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina

Freshman of the Year: Kyle Singler, Duke

Predicted Order of Finish:
1. North Carolina
2. Duke
3. NC State
4. Clemson
5. Maryland
6. Virginia
7. Georgia Tech
8. Miami
9. Florida St.
10. Boston College
11. Virginia Tech
12. Wake Forest

Other Predictions:
Storming the Floor