Basketball in the New Atlantic Coast Conference
For decades, The Atlantic Coast Conference has been known for its basketball prowess. With the addition of four new teams, the conference will only get stronger. In 2013, former Big East heavyweights Syracuse, Pittsburgh, and Notre Dame join the ACC. While North Carolina and Duke have long led the way, other schools have emerged as worthy competitors. The old guard will face many challenges from the newcomers this season.
In their third year under Coach Steve Donahue, the Eagles need to show continued improvement. Last year, they lacked the experience needed to compete in the ACC. With 11 returning players, this could be a great year for the Eagles.
While the Tigers have some depth in the back court returning, they lose Devin Booker from an already thin front court. Brad Brownell could find himself on the hot seat early this year.
The Blue Devils lose a few pieces from last year’s squad but reload with a very talented freshman group. As usual, Duke will be in the national title hunt this year.
Leonard Hamilton has built a consistent program at Florida State. With the addition of top tier teams, it will be interesting to see if Hamilton can keep his team near the top of the heap.
In his third year as head coach, Brian Gregory appears to have the Yellow Jackets headed in the right direction. They return four starters from a year ago.
The Terps made some noise last year despite relying heavily on underclassmen. With added experience and the return of the talented Dez Wells, look for Maryland to pull off some big wins during their final season in the ACC. They join the Big Ten effective next year.
Last year, Jim Larranaga’s squad surprised many as they won the school’s first ever ACC Championship. With the departure of Shane Larkin to the NBA, someone must emerge for the Canes to sustain their success.
UNC has the talent to compete for an ACC and NCAA title once again. To reach those goals, everyone will have to contribute. Unfortunately for the Heels, there are some lingering off court issues that could jeopardize PJ Hairston’s eligibility.
With the departure of CJ Leslie to the NBA, Mark Gottfried has some holes to fill. He will have to count on new faces to compete.
In their first year in the ACC, Notre Dame will rely heavily on its guard play where they are talented and deep. Finding a consistent answer in the front court could determine how high up the ACC ranks they climb.
Pitt has to replace two of it’s best players from a year ago but coach Jamie Dixon has only missed the NCAA tournament once in 10 seasons. He will have his work cut out for him in his first year in the ACC.
There is plenty of talent leftover on Jim Boeheim’s squad; likely enough for Syracuse to contend for an ACC title in its first year.
Under Tony Bennett, Virginia has continually improved. With senior standout, Joe Harris, leading the charge, the Cavaliers will try and keep their standing in the new ACC.
Virginia Tech finished at the bottom of the pack last season. Losing prolific score, Erick Green, will not help their cause.
With five freshman making major contributions last year, the Demon Deacons should be an improved team this season.
These teams make up the new Atlantic Coast Conference. It is very possible that the new ACC will be the most dominant conference in college basketball but that is yet to be determined. Let the games be played.