TEAM-BY-TEAM PREVIEW

The Baltimore Sun

Boston College

Coach -- Al Skinner, 11th season at school (196-120), 20th overall (334-245)

2006-07 record -- 21-12, 10-6 (tied for third in ACC)

Outlook -- Gone is ACC Player of the Year Jared Dudley, but three starters return for the Eagles: Tyrese Rice, Shamari Spears and John Oates. Rice, who averaged 24.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists in the Eagles' two NCAA tournament games, started all 33 games as a soph omore. Without Dudley, Spears is the team's leading returning rebounder (4.6 a game). He made 13 starts as a freshman last season. Oates is one of just two seniors on the Eagles' roster, which has five freshmen and five sophomores. He started 31 games last season, missed two with a foot injury, and averaged 4.7 points and 3.7 rebounds.

Clemson

Coach -- Oliver Purnell, fifth season at school (70-58), 20th overall (326-249)

2006-07 record -- 25-11, 7-9 (tied for eighth)

Outlook -- If the Tigers find consis tency at point guard, they've got a chance to be one of the top teams in the league - and possibly the country - as four starters return and three of them are seniors. Clemson's 25 wins last season tied for the most in school history. Cliff Hammonds, a 6-foot-3 senior guard, started all 36 games and averaged 11.6 points and 4.0 as sists. K.C. Rivers, a junior swingman who came off the bench for the first 26 games of the season before start ing the final 10, will continue in a starting role. He led the team in scor ing (14.0 points per game) and was third in rebounds (4.5). James Mays earned a reputation for his defense, as he led all ACC frontcourt players in steals per game (1.9). He was sec ond on the team in steals with 69 and tied for first in rebounds (6.4). Sopho more forward-center Trevor Booker also averaged 6.4 rebounds, and he had 78 blocks - the second most by a freshman in school history.

Duke

Coach -- Mike Krzyzewski, 28th sea son at school (702-202), 33rd overall (775-261)

2006-07 record -- 22-11, 8-8 (tied for sixth)

Outlook -- The Blue Devils should be better than last season but still aren't as good as North Carolina is expected to be - and North Carolina State might be. Four starters are back, though, including senior guard DeMarcus Nelson, who led the team in scoring (14.1 points) and steals (1.4). Josh McRoberts' decision to turn professional took away Duke's most consistent inside player, and Krzyzewski is struggling to fill his frontcourt. The lone returning big man is David McClure, who started 11 games as a sophomore and aver aged 4.2 points and 4.9 rebounds. Junior guard Greg Paulus, an accu rate three-point shooter, is also back, along with sophomore guard Jon Scheyer, who started 23 games last season and averaged 12.2 points and 3.3 rebounds.

Florida State

Coach -- Leonard Hamilton, sixth season at school (87-71), 20th overall (287-281)

2006-07 record -- 22-13, 7-9 (tied for eighth)

Outlook -- If there was one season when Hamilton's team built a strong case for a bid to the NCAA tourna ment, it was 2006-07, but even with standout Al Thornton in the mix, the Seminoles came up short. If they couldn't do it with him, how are they going to get there without him? Four starters who were stung by the NCAA tournament snub are back and moti vated, including junior guard Toney Douglas, a former transfer from Au burn who was second on the team in scoring (12.7) and assists (2.7). Florida State also has senior guard Isaiah Swann, who is in his third season as a starter and has shot 37 percent on three-pointers during his career. Sen ior guard Jason Rich averaged 10.3 points and 3.5 rebounds last season. Junior forward Uche Echefu, of La gos, Nigeria, is the lone returning starter in the frontcourt. He was sec ond on the team with 20 blocked shots last season and started every game, averaging 6.9 points and 4.3 rebounds.

Georgia Tech

Coach -- Paul Hewitt, eighth season at school (127-95), 11th overall (193-122)

2006-07 record -- 20-12, 8-8 (tied for sixth)

Outlook -- The one-and-done tan dem of Javaris Crittenton and Thad deus Young make it hard not to think about what could have been, but this is what it is: The Yellow Jackets lost their top two scorers and return three starters and Lewis Clinch, who was suspended for the spring semes ter. Clinch, a junior guard, led the team in scoring through the first 10 games of the season. He shot 53.2 percent from the field and 47.6 per cent from three-point range. Antho ny Morrow is another excellent pe rimeter shooter, as the senior guard ranks eighth in school history with 177 three-pointers. Morrow started 10 of the last 11 games and averaged 10.8 points and 3.8 rebounds during that span. Senior forward Jeremis Smith is the only player who started every game last season. He led the team with 5.9 rebounds per game.

Maryland

Coach -- Gary Williams 19th season at school (378-200), 30th overall (585-328)

2006-07 record -- 25-9, 10-6 (tied for third)

Outlook -- Technically, the Terps return only two starters, as sopho more guard Eric Hayes came off the bench for all but 11 games last sea son. Still, both Hayes and senior for ward Bambale Osby should make smooth transitions into consistent starters. The question is who will emerge as the Terps' fifth starter. Early indications were that Landon Milbourne is the front-runner, as he is the most experienced of the youn ger players. With six freshmen on the roster, much will be expected of sen ior forward James Gist and sopho more guard Greivis Vasquez, who are the experience and heart of the team, respectively. Gist, the team's leading returning scorer and re bounder, is the lone senior who has been with the program since he was a freshman. Vasquez, who started 21 games last season, averaged 9.8 points, 4.6 assists and 3.3 rebounds. Hayes should take on more of an of fensive role after averaging 4.8 points last season.

Miami

Coach -- Frank Haith, fourth season at school (46-49), fourth overall

2006-07 record -- 12-20, 4-12 (12th)

Outlook -- Things can only get bet ter for the Hurricanes, who were de pleted by frontcourt injuries last sea son. Four starters are back, including 6-foot-9 senior center Anthony King, who was granted a medical redshirt and a fifth year of eligibility. King was leading the league in rebounds (9.3) eight games into the season when he suffered a season-ending wrist injury. Baltimore native Jack McClinton led Miami in scoring (16.7 points) and minutes played (31.5). He also led the ACC in three-point field goals per game (2.9), three-point field-goal percentage (.440) and free-throw percentage (.895). Sophomore forward Dwayne Collins shot 53.8 percent from the field, and over the last nine games averaged 10.2 points and 9.8 rebounds.

North Carolina

Coach -- Roy Williams, fifth season at school (106-30), 20th overall (524-131)

2006-07 record -- 31-7, 11-5 (tied for 1st, ACC tournament champion)

Outlook -- The Tar Heels, motivat ed by last season's exit from the NCAA tournament in the Elite Eight, return enough talent to contend for the national title again and were a unanimous pick by the media to fin ish first in the ACC. Had forward Brandan Wright, the eighth overall pick in the NBA draft, stuck around, they might have been favored to win it all. Junior forward Tyler Hans brough led UNC in scoring (18.4) and rebounding (7.9) last season, and he should get the job done inside, even without Wright. Sophomore guard Ty Lawson finished third in the ACC in assists (5.6) and first in assists-to-turnover ratio (2.64:1). Sophomore guard Wayne Ellington started 37 games and averaged 11.7 points and 2.1 assists.

North Carolina State

Coach -- Sidney Lowe, second sea son at school (20-16), second overall

2006-07 record -- 20-16, 5-11 (tied for 10th)

Outlook -- After relying on a six-man rotation in his first season as head coach, Lowe has a few more op tions this season - enough to boast one of the top teams in the country. Four starters are back from a de pleted team that went on a late-sea son surge and won six of its last nine. All four starters - Courtney Fells, Ga vin Grant, Brandon Costner and Ben McCauley - averaged double figures in scoring and more than 33 minutes a game last season. Costner became the seventh freshman in league his tory to lead his team in both scoring (16.8) and rebounding (7.3). Grant av eraged 14.8 points and 36.2 minutes in the Wolfpack's surprising four-game run in the ACC tournament. McCauley finished second in the league in field-goal percentage (.584), and Fells improved his scoring from an average of 2.0 points as a fresh man to 11 points last season. The question is, who will replace Engin Atsur at point guard?

Virginia

Coach -- Dave Leitao, third season at school (36-26), eighth overall (116-95)

2006-07 record -- 21-11, 11-5 (tied for 1st)

Outlook -- The scoring of J.R. Rey nolds, whose 18.4 points per game helped lead the Cavaliers to their first 20-win season since 2001, will be sorely missed, but three starters re turn, including the leading returning scorer in the ACC. Senior guard Sean Singletary averaged 19 points last season and finished second in the league in free-throw percentage (.872), and three-pointers (2.5). His late decision to not enter the NBA draft might have made the differ ence in where the Cavaliers wind up in March. Junior forward Mamadi Di ane started all 32 games last season and averaged 9.6 points, and Adrian Joseph came off the bench in the fi nal 28 games to average 7.2 points and 3.5 rebounds.

Virginia Tech

Coach -- Seth Greenberg, fifth sea son at school (67-56), 19th season overall (280-226)

2006-07 record -- 22-12, 10-6 (tied for third)

Outlook -- The departure of an im pressive five-man senior class, the transfer of a point guard (Nigel Mun son) and the decision of Augustus Gil christ to attend prep school instead of Tech have drastically dropped the expectations for the Hokies. Without Munson, who wants to transfer to George Washington, the Hokies have a hole to fill and a roster that in cludes seven freshmen. Freshmen Hank Thorns and Malcolm Delaney (Towson Catholic) appear to be the front-runners. The veterans who will lead them are senior Deron Washing ton, a three-year starter who led the team in rebounding (5.3) and was second in scoring (12) last season, and junior A.D. Vassallo, who started 11 games last season.

Wake Forest

Coach -- Dino Gaudio, first season; seventh season overall (68-124)

2006-07 record -- 15-16, 5-11 (tied for 10th)

Outlook -- Four starters return to a team that is playing this season in memory of the late Skip Prosser, who died July 26. Gaudio hasn't been a head coach since 1998 to 2000 at Loyola, but he was one of Prosser's best friends and the players have ral lied around him. Sophomore guard Ishmael Smith became the fifth freshman in ACC history to lead the league in assists (6.0) and became the first Demon Deacon to lead the league in assists since Muggsy Bogues (1985-1987). Harvey Hale, who re duced his turnovers from 75 to 32 after moving from point guard his freshman year to shooting guard last season, started 18 games. Sophomore guard L.D. Williams started all 31 games last season and averaged 8.2 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.1 steals.

HEATHER A. DINICH

PREDICTIONS

1. North Carolina: This could be the most experienced team Roy Williams has had to work with since he won the national championship in 2005.

2. North Carolina State: Sidney Lowe finally has the depth he needs to build upon last season's late surge.

3. Clemson: With James Mays, K.C. Rivers and Cliff Hammonds back, the Tigers should make their first NCAA tournament appearance in Oliver Purnell's five seasons.

4. Duke: There is no fear of the Blue Devils after last season, but Mike Krzyzewski has the players in place to return the program to its spot among the nation's elite.

5. Maryland: The Terps should only get better as the season progresses, but freshmen won't overcome the experienced talent at the top of the standings.

6. Virginia: It will be difficult for the Cavaliers to repeat last season's success, especially because Dave Leitao lost two of his best defenders, including the sharp-shooting J.R. Reynolds.

7. Florida State: The Seminoles are no longer a one-man show and have three talented guards to compensate for the loss of Al Thornton.

8. Georgia Tech: The return of Lewis Clinch and a healthy Anthony Morrow could make the Yellow Jackets one of the season's surprises.

9. Boston College: With five freshmen on the roster, the burden will be on junior point guard Tyrese Rice (above) to guide the team.

10. Miami: With a healthy frontcourt and the strong perimeter shooting of Baltimore native Jack McClinton, the Hurricanes are bound to improve.

11. Virginia Tech: There were too many offseason departures - some expected, some not - so this will be a rebuilding season.

12. Wake Forest: It will be an emotional experience for a team trying to cope with the death of coach Skip Prosser, but if the Demon Deacons improve defensively, they should improve overall.

HEATHER A. DINICH

ACC media picks

1. North Carolina

2. Duke

3. North Carolina State

4. Clemson

5. Virginia

6. Maryland

7. Georgia Tech

8. Boston College

9. Florida State

10. Virginia Tech

11. Wake Forest

12. Miami

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