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ACC PREVIEW: First look for 2023-2024

Updated: Sep 21

College basketball has been sorely missed in my household this summer. I like the warmer weather and long days, but my favorite time the year runs from the end of October to the first couple weeks in April. Yes, football’s starting, and I love football, but there’s just a special place for college basketball in our household.

I’m starting to dive into how these teams are going to stack up this year, starting with the 6 power conferences, and moving on down after that. I’m planning a breakdown a week leading into my pre-season bracket release on halloween. Each of the conference articles are starting out as smaller previews and will get more detailed as we go, and I’ll be continually updating as information is available. My final rankings and prediction for the conference will come out closer to the start of the season, this is more of a first take overview as I get more familiar with each team going into the preseason. Please don’t hesitate to give me feedback on why a team deserves something different than I have them at. Unfortunately, this isn’t my full-time job and I don’t have enough time to deeply analyze each roster.

The data I’m using to help guide me comes from Bart Torvik’s predictions for the year, along with looking at stats from last year. Of course, these aren’t exact numbers and likely won’t be perfectly accurate in predicting the year, but it does give a baseline for each team’s outlook.

First, the ACC, after a rough year for the conference last year, Miami managed to get to the final four and help ease the pain of how the year went. This year however, I don’t expect the Hurricanes to go the furthest in the tournament, that distinction belongs to Duke and then there’s a bit of a gap after them.

1: Duke: I expect the Blue Devils to win the ACC and end up on the 1/2 line this year.

2-5 could be in any order for me right now, and I may flip them before my final projections.

2: Miami: Final 4 last year was surprising, but this year? The Hurricanes are back and should compete at the top of the ACC.

3: UNC: They should make the tournament after their hiatus last year, but until Hubert Davis and Co. prove it, I’m not buying a ton of stock in this team. Anything less than a single digit seed is a real disappointment this year.

4: Clemson: I’m higher on Clemson than others, they may struggle to rebound this year, but I think they have a shot to be in the top tier of the ACC this year; I believe they should be in the bracket come March.

5: Virginia: I’m not a fan of the system that UVA plays, the defensive emphasis with minimal offensive production just A: isn’t fun basketball, and B: isn’t easy to learn and succeed with each year. The Cavaliers should be a tournament team, but they’ll likely be a double digit seed in my preseason bracket until they prove otherwise.

6-10 is another close grouping for me and could all be surprise tournament teams this year. I’m thinking the ACC gets 7, maybe 8 into the bracket come March. That distinction will be made depending on how these teams develop.

6: Virginia Tech: I feel like year after year, VT’s just one big question mark. I don’t know what to think of this year’s roster, and I really don’t know what to expect. I do believe this team has the potential to be balanced on both ends of the court and find their way into the tournament.

7: Florida State: I like FSU this year. They killed it in the transfer portal and they’re my pick to surprise some people this year. Primo Spears can be an absolute STUD now that he’s out of the dumpster fire that was Georgetown under Ewing. They may play smaller and will need to find ways to hit the boards, but FSU could jump up into the bracket.

8: Syracuse: The Orange are 100% going to rely on their backcourt to live up to the hype it's getting this offseason. Mintz and Starling's success will determine how well the Orange end up doing in the ACC this year! I've moved them up 6 spots after a deeper look into them, and I think they could even push toward the 5/6 mark!

9: NC State: I’m giving NC State some benefit of the doubt coming into the year, but I could be convinced that they will struggle. I really liked Jaden Taylor when he was at Butler last year, I just think he was on too poor of a team. If the Wolfpack can fully unlock Taylor, it could really help them get into the bracket come March. They should shoot the ball well, they did really well in the portal, and if they can solidify their D, they could be dangerous.

10. Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons really intrigue me this year, they’ve got experience; they return around 50% of their minutes from last year, but they did pretty well in the portal, and depending on their defensive progression, they could be solid this year.

11: Pittsburgh: Blake Hinson has to carry this team this year, I don’t know what to make of their roster right now, they need a shooter or two, and I don't know if they have it. The mid-summer departures hurt, and it'll be an interesting ride this year. his team is young and I wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t make the tournament this year.

12: Georgia Tech: The yellow jackets did well in the portal this year, and they return ~ 50% of their minutes, so they have a solid mix to build on, I believe that they could surprise some people this year.

13: Boston College: Returning 60% of their minutes is a solid start, but they didn’t do much in the portal; I don’t think that BC will do much this year.

Truly Rebuilding:

14: Notre Dame: Year 1 of the Shrewsberry era isn’t looking too promising. ND will struggle, they didn’t do a ton in the portal and they only return 2% of their minutes. This year is about setting up for success in 2024-2025 as they have a lot of young guys and no seniors.

15: Louisville: Yikes. I was higher on UoL a month ago when I wrote this. Now? They're back to the cellar of the ACC. I think it's a culture issue, and won't be surprised at all if they don't do much better than last year.

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