Hey there, gang. What’s new? Pretty uneventful time of year, isn’t it? Well since we’ve got nothing better to do, and with Syracuse set to tip off the regular season on Friday night against mighty Colgate, what better time to make some wild ass guesses about how things will shake out in the ACC?
I’ve taken an informal poll of myself, and decided that when it comes to the order of finish in the ACC, this is how I see things playing out:
Yeah, I know. I’m probably looking at things with some orange-tinted glasses on, as most prognosticators have Syracuse pegged around the fifth spot. And if I’m being totally honest, I’m not as sold on North Carolina as many, and think they could finish closer to fifth than second pretty easily.
Virginia, as much as we all hate to say it, will be very good again this year. They’ve added a heck of a talent in Austin Nichols, and remember the name Kyle Guy. He’s a freshman guard who played his AAU ball with Matt Moyer, and is a sharpshooter who might wind up reminding you of JJ Redick. He was a McDonald’s All-American last year, and the 6-foot-3 shooter scored 13 in the team’s Blue-White scrimmage back in October.
A little farther down the list, a lot of people are high on NC State thanks primarily to a couple newcomers. Most notable is Dennis Smith, the 5-star point guard recruit with incredible athleticism, who most are projecting to be a one and done star for the Wolfpack. I’m not quite as sold on NC State, but frankly, the middle of the pack in the ACC is pretty damn muddled. You could take teams 6-12, toss them in a Yahtzee shaker, and spit them out in virtually any order and it’d be completely feasible.
And then you get down to the bottom of the barrel. Yes, that means you, Boston College. Georgia Tech isn’t much better than the lowly Eagles, while Danny Manning is probably thrilled that the ACC has a couple of bottom feeders to keep him from dragging down the rest of Tobacco Road too much.
Now, let’s get into some of the individual players.
It’s tough to predict who will emerge, who’s going to be a bust, and who’s going to not just remain steady but take a step forward. There are a couple of givens when you’re talking about All-ACC performance. As much as it pains us all to say, Grayson Allen is going to be the frontrunner for Player of the Year honors. Jaron Blossomgame is going to pad the stat sheet at Clemson. Dennis Smith is likely going to carry the load for NC State. And Tyler Lydon will, hopefully, emerge as the difference maker we all hope he can become.
In determining my All-ACC team, I wound up looking at about 16 or 17 guys and trying to whittle them down to only five. I think I may have undervalued a couple guys, but I also tried not to buy too much into the freshman hype for a few others. So with that said, here’s my pick for the preseason All-ACC first team:
Grayson Allen, Duke
Jaron Blossomgame, Clemson
Tyler Lydon, Syracuse
Dennis Smith, NC State
Harry Giles, Duke
That’s in order, by the way. And yes, there’s more orange-tint here. I know that Lydon hasn’t looked particularly great in the first two exhibition games, but he’s going to find his range and that’ll open things up for him (and the rest of the offense) tremendously. And while I wanted to avoid freshmen if and when possible, I really do believe that Smith and Giles are going to wind up being that good.
The rest of my list included guys like Austin Nichols from Virginia, Joel Berry and Justin Jackson from North Carolina, Zach LeDay from Virginia Tech, VJ Beachem from Notre Dame, and Dwayne Bacon from Florida State. I also considered Tyus Battle and Andrew White, but I’m trying to be fairly realistic and, based on past All-ACC selections, the Orange have struggled a bit to get multiple guys on the first and second team. For the record, though, I think Battle is going to be right in the mix with Smith and Giles for rookie of the year honors.
This is an awfully good group of teams and players in the ACC. Syracuse has its work cut out to fight its way into the top three, and even challenge Duke for the top spot (and let’s be real here, Duke is the clearly top team, and then UNC, Syracuse, Virginia, and Louisville are all jostling for position in a tier just beneath them). The talent and depth is there. Now let’s just see how it all comes together.