Talk about being upstaged. Just as I was set to post my preseason All-ACC basketball team and predicted order of finish – this to advance the league’s media day Wednesday in Charlotte – the conference’s coaches released their forecast.
It’s a first for the coaches, who also will name a first, second, third and defensive team after the season – they can not vote for their own players.
The preseason ballot, for coaches and media, is simpler: a five-man team, player and rookie of the year, and order of finish.
The 12 coaches’ consensus virtually mirrors my thinking, which should disturb them no end. We agree on four of the five players, plus the top player and rookie. We have the same teams among the top six and bottom six, though in slightly different orders – the only disparity of more than one place in the standings involves Georgia Tech.
So here goes.
1. N.C. State: Falling for the hype generated by last season’s Sweet 16 appearance and this season’s incoming freshmen.
2. North Carolina: Unyielding passion is among Roy Williams’ many Hall of Fame traits. Just hope he treads carefully after his recent health scare.
3. Duke: Mike Krzyzewski openly questioned the Blue Devils’ toughness after last season’s early NCAA exit. Monday’s obstacle course training and practice at Fort Bragg gave him an early glimpse of this squad’s mettle.
4. Florida State: Defense is why the Seminoles are among two teams – Duke is the other – to win at least 10 ACC games each of the last four seasons.
5. Miami: In their second year under Jim Larranaga, the Hurricanes return four starters from a squad that was likely one win away from the NCAA tournament.
6. Maryland: The Terps may lean on freshmen more than any league team this season, and their best appears to be 270-pound center Shaquille Cleare.
7. Virginia: Point guards Jontel Evans and Malcolm Brogdon need to recover from foot injuries in a hurry if the Cavaliers are to avoid a marked decline from last season, when they reached the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2007.
8. Clemson: With no established guards, the Tigers would do well to finish .500 or better in the ACC for the sixth consecutive season.
9. Virginia Tech: A roster of only eight scholarship players will test rookie head coach James Johnson early and often.
10. Wake Forest: The league’s top two returning scorers, guard C.J. Harris and forward Travis McKie, should be enough for the Deacons to avoid a third straight last-place finish.
11. Georgia Tech: Conventional wisdom says to pick the only conference team returning five starters higher. But the Yellow Jackets are 18-46 in ACC play the last four years.
12. Boston College: Led by forward Ryan Anderson, the Eagles return four sophomores who started at least 24 games as freshmen. But they finished last season on a 2-12 skid.
And here’s my preseason all-conference team:
Florida State guard Michael Snaer: The ACC’s best clutch shooter last season. See Duke and Virginia Tech for references.
N.C. State forward C.J. Leslie: Pondered an early exit to the NBA after his sophomore year and almost certainly will head to the show after this season.
Virginia Tech guard Erick Green: Voted second-team all-conference last season despite playing for a team that tied for last place.
North Carolina forward James Michael McAdoo: The overall numbers from his freshman season – 6.1 points and 3.9 rebounds per game – were tame. But McAdoo not only averaged 11.8 points during the NCAA tournament but also showed keen defensive instincts.
Duke forward Mason Plumlee: The ACC’s top returnee in rebounding (9.2 per game) and field goal percentage (57.2 percent). In his senior season, time for his freaky athleticism to translate to an overall game.
Several others can make a strong case for inclusion:
Wake Forest’s Harris and McKie are the league’s top returning scorers – they averaged 16.7 and 16.1 points, respectively.
N.C. State guard Lorenzo Brown led the ACC in steals, was second to North Carolina’s Kendall Marshall in assists and was the Wolfpack’s No. 2 scorer at 12.7 points per game.
Any or all of Miami’s three returning double-figure scorers – guard Durand Scott, forward Kenny Kadji and center Reggie Johnson – is capable of an All-ACC season. I like Kadji the best because he’s versatile enough to score in the post and beyond the 3-point arc. Plus, he led the Hurricanes in blocked shots last season.
Player of the year: Leslie.
Rookie of the year: N.C. State guard Rodney Purvis.
Here’s a link to the coaches’ team and predicted order of finish.
Much more basketball news coming Wednesday from Charlotte.
I can be reached at 247-4636 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me at twitter.com/DavidTeelatDP
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