Coming off of a season where the conference featured three #1 seeds, three of the top four NBA draft selections, and the national champion, the ACC is looking to be extremely competitive. The conference is likely to get between 9-11 teams into the annual March Madness bracket, with a few already aiming for #1 seeds.
Teams that will be in
Despite Duke, North Carolina, and Virginia losing significant, key players, they both have strong, promising recruits that are going to uphold their dominance in the conference and the nation. Meanwhile, Louisville is looking to make a jump into the ‘Elite’ category this year, as a group of experienced and talented players should make this team in contention for the ACC championship.
Teams that should be in
Each of these teams are coming off of great seasons, but each team has lost at least 3 starters. Nevertheless, they have immense talent and elite coaches, such as 44-year coach Jim Boeheim, that will shape up these squads into what should be #7-9 seeds for the NCAA tournament.
Teams that could be in
Despite finishing at the bottom of the conference last year, Notre Dame is returning 11 of its 12 players and is projected to finish in the middle of the pack this year. Likewise, NC State also returns an experienced squad, including ACC assists-leader Markell Johnson. Georgia Tech is finally at the end of an 8-year rebuilding phase and is poised to make a run for the top half of the conference standings. Both Boston College and Miami are looking to bounce back from seasons plagued by injuries. Overall, this group of teams are experienced and have good chances of making the tournament if they are able to stay healthy and find an offensive rhythm.
Long shots to be in
These teams are simply in rebuilding phases. Clemson and Wake Forest both lost four of their starters from last season, and Clemson has already lost 2 of their top players to ACL injuries this summer. Pittsburgh, under the new direction of Coach Jeff Capel, is the farthest along this road and might be a little competitive, as they are returning four starters that kept the majority of their games close last year. However, these teams are playing 20 games in the toughest conference in the country, so don’t expect a whole lot from this group.
The ACC has established itself as the best conference in the nation over the past few years and looks ready to defend that claim this season. The experienced teams near the bottom will surely give the top-caliber squads some challenges along the way. Expect 10 ACC teams to put on their dancing shoes when the madness starts in March.