All ACC Team
G: Grayson Allen, Duke
G: Joel Berry II, North Carolina
G: Bruce Brown, Miami
F: Bonzie Colson, Notre Dame
F: Deng Adel, Louisville
Outside of Grayson Allen (14.5 ppg, 3.7 rpg), Duke loses pretty much everybody. Six of the Dukies top seven scorers have moved on, and after Allen, the next leading scorer is junior Antonio Vrankovic (2.5 ppg, 2.6 rpg), but as always, the Blue Devils brought in an excellent recruiting class that will help Krzyzewski reload… and reload they did. Duke brings in three of the top-seven players in the country, including #1 overall Marvin Bagley III and the #2 point guard in 247sports’ rankings, Trevon Duval. Duval, Bagley, and company will have to gel with Grayson Allen early to live up to the expectations that come with being a preaseason #1.
Louisville might get a postseason ban, but if they don’t, watch out. This team is loaded, four starters return from last year’s 25-9 team. Deng Adel (12.1 ppg, 4.5 rpg) will contend for All-ACC honors, and freshman swing man Brian Bowen II will be a huge addition if he gets reinstated by the NCAA. Somebody needs to replace the role that Donavan Mitchell played last year, perhaps senior Quentin Snider (12.4 ppg, 4.1 apg). VJ King (5.5 ppg, 2.1 rpg) should see an increase in minutes, and seven footer Anas Mahmoud (5.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg) will hold down the middle. It is hard to know how the team will play under a new coach, but this team has sweet 16 talent.
3. North Carolina
Stop me if you’ve heard this before with a different Carolina team, but these guys lose pretty much their whole team outside of one star player, in this case, Joel Berry II (14.7 ppg, 3.1 rpg). Berry, a senior point guard, has done everything for this Carolina team, he can score and pass, and his defense game saw noticeable improvement last year. UNC’s recruiting class isn’t as illustrious as Duke’s, but the Tar Heels do bring in a big transfer in Cameron Johnson, who averaged 12 points per game at Pittsburgh. Without Jackson, Meeks, and Hicks, this team will probably take a step back, but make no mistake, the Heels can cause some damage in the ACC.
4. Notre Dame
The final double bye spot in the conference goes to Notre Dame. The Irish lose Beachem and Vasturia but the duo of Bonzie Colson (17.8 ppg, 10.1 rpg) and Matt Farrell (14.1 ppg, 2.0 rpg) is as good as any in the country, the questions come when you look further than the two star players. Somebody like a Rex Pflueger (4.7 ppg, 2.7 rpg) or TJ Gibbs (4.7 ppg, 1.5 rpg) needs to take that next step into the starting lineup. The Irish also bring in a top-50 recruit in DJ Harvey, a swing man that should get some solid minutes. The combo of Colson and Farrell will lead this team to another 25+ win season.
Miami is the wildcard in the ACC. The ‘Canes will play good defense, they always have under Jim Larranaga, and they have their star in sophomore Bruce Brown (11.8 ppg, 5.6 rpg). Brown should be able to fully develop and take control of this team now that Davon Reed is gone. Ja’Quan Newton (13.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg) will return at the one. Newton is a solid defender and scorer, but has a tendency to turn the ball over. The ‘Canes bring in the nation’s #16 overall player in freshman Lonnie Walker, an athletic wing that will have to play some combo guard assuming Newton and Brown lock down the starting jobs.
Virginia is going to knock off somebody, they get #2-4 in the conference at home, and having the best defense in the country will do that to teams, but it is hard to say how the Cavaliers will react to losing their two leading scorers from last season in London Perrantes and Marial Shayok. Devon Hall (8.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg) will step into Perrantes’ role as the de facto leader of the team. The Cavaliers also bring in Rutgers transfer Nigel Johnson, four-star big man Jay Huff, and a skilled small forward in freshman De’Andre Hunter, who redshirted last year. This team could contend for an ACC Title, or miss the tournament, we’ve never really seen a Bennett team that relies on so many new faces.
7. Georgia Tech
The Yellow Jackets aren’t quite an ACC contender yet, but this should be a tournament team. Josh Okogie (16.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg), Tadric Jackson (12.1 ppg, 2.2 rpg), and All-ACC candidate Ben Lammers (14.2 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 3.4 bpg) all return. Lammers had a breakout year in 2016-17, and he will only improve with the added experience. This team played excellent defense last year en route to a 21-16 campaign that led them to the NIT Title game, where they fell at the hands of TCU. I see the Ramblin’ Wreck taking that next step this year and making it to the big dance.
8. Virginia Tech
Zach LeDay and Seth Allen, the top two scorers from last year’s 22-11 NCAA Tournament team are both gone, but this team still returns some pieces. Justin Robinson (10.4 ppg, 4.9 apg) is an expert passer that should be able to distribute the ball to some of the younger guys on the team. Chris Clarke (11.4 ppg, 7.3 rpg) is a two-way swingman that can rebound inside. Ahmed Hill (11.4 ppg, 3.2 rpg) had a breakout year last year, and now that he steps out of Seth Allen’s shadow, those scoring numbers will only increase. This is a bubble team, but I see Buzz Williams taking the Hokies to another NCAA Tourney.