By Andrew Godnick
As college basketball season inches closer, here is the second half of EP’s ACC preview. Read part one here.
North Carolina– After watching rival Duke win the National Championship, the Tar Heels are faced with some lofty expectations this year. With the return of Marcus Paige, Justin Jackson, Bryce Johnson, and Kennedy Meeks, the ACC conference is theirs to lose. If Marcus Paige can stay healthy for a full season, the sky is the limit for the Tar Heels this year.Embed from Getty Images
North Carolina State: A team that always gives their opponents a run for their money, the Wolfpack are sure to struggle this year. They are losing their top two scorers from last season and lack the big time recruits to make an immediate impact. Don’t sleep on the Wolfpack, but don’t expect anything great from them this season.
Notre Dame: After losing to Kentucky in a heart breaking elite eight loss last year, the defending ACC champions hope to find that success again. With a mix of departures and returning contributors, the Fighting Irish will experience ups and downs throughout the season. It’s a team full of talent, but will it mesh as well as last years historic run? It’s up to you coach Brey.Embed from Getty Images
Pittsburgh: Known for their supportive crowd, the Panthers will look to improve on their 8-10 conference record from last years campaign. With the return of their top two scorers, coach Jamie Dixon has a roster that can shock some teams this year. With the addition of Damon Wilson to the backcourt, the Panther fans should be excited for an unpredictable year.
Syracuse: The Orange had an offseason that was all over the tabloids for all the wrong reasons. The team will look to put that behind them and prove the doubters wrong this year. They return seniors Trevor Cooney, Michael Gbninije, and Dajuan Coleman, along with starting point guard Kaleb Joseph. They brought in recruits such as Tyler Lydon, Malaci Richardson, and Franklin Howard to provide help to the veteran heavy roster. This will be an interesting season with coach Boeheim being suspended the first nine ACC games of the season, but if the talent on this roster finds a way to mesh early on, watch out, the Orange could make a run.Embed from Getty Images
Virginia: The Cavaliers are known for their tenacious defense, and for them to experience the success of recent years, that defense must resemble the same aggression as last year. While losing Justin Anderson effects the team negatively, the Cavaliers return the other two leading scorers from last season. The destiny of this team will depend on the two senior’s success, but as long as coach Tony Bennett is in charge, the Cavaliers are in good hands.
Virginia Tech: After last years dismal 2-16 conference record, Hokies fans should stay away from this section of the article. Besides returning last seasons second leading score in Justin Bibbs, the Hokies don’t have much to look forward to this year. Similar to Georgia Tech and Boston College, the Hokies will be at the bottom of the cellar this year…again.
Wake Forest: Coach Danny Manning’s first year didn’t go as planned, taking a step back by losing one more conference game than the prior year. The Demon Deacons return their top four scorers from last year, but don’t expect much more success from them this year. They are still competing in one of, if not the hardest conference in the nation, and with a lack of improvement, look for Wake Forest to struggle.