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ACC Preview: UNC hoping to bounce back

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Jeff Goodman

Jeff Goodman is a senior college basketball writer for FOXSports.com. Check out his Yardbarker blog. MORE>>
 
   
 

Life on Tobacco Road returns to normalcy a season after Duke hangs a banner and North Carolina didn’t even go dancing.

The Blue Devils — despite losing veteran point guard Jon Scheyer — will be more talented with the addition of freshman floor leader Kyrie Irving.

Look for Irving to burst onto the scene quickly and establish himself as one of the premiere point guards in the nation — and don’t be shocked if the boys from Durham run away with the ACC crown this season.

 

ACC PRESEASON PREDICTIONS

1. Duke: Tough to beat the trio of seniors Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith with freshman point guard Kyrie Irving.

2. North Carolina: The Tar Heels will return to the Big Dance with the arrival of Harrison Barnes and a quality freshman class.

3. Florida State: Leonard Hamilton has plenty of size up front, a big-time wing in Chris Singleton and a terrific guard in Michael Snaer.

4. Virginia Tech: Malcolm Delaney may be the star, but the key is veteran big man Jeff Allen.

5. N.C. State: It’s all up to the youth of a talented and highly touted freshman class.

6. Clemson: New coach Brad Brownell will rely on veteran point guard Demontez Stitt, but the Tigers also have plenty of young talent in the program left by Oliver Purnell.

7. Maryland: The Terps will have a completely different look with Greivis Vaszuez gone.

8. Miami: The Hurricanes will have a strong backcourt with Durand Scott and Malcolm Grant.

9. Georgia Tech: Iman Shumpert needs to step up with Derrick Favors and Gani Lawal gone.

10. Boston College: New coach Steve Donahue will have his work cut out for him with a team that doesn’t have much quality depth.

11. Virginia: Tony Bennett lost Sylven Landesburg and it’ll be interesting to see if the Cavs can surprise some people.

12. Wake Forest: Jeff Bzdelik takes over a young team after losing Al-Farouq Aminu, Ishmael Smith and also Tony Woods – who was kicked off the team.

BEST NCAA HOOP UPSETS

Upsets are what make March Madness. We've got the top 10 in tournament history.

 

PACK YOUR DANCING SHOES

 

Duke

North Carolina

Florida State

Virginia Tech

N.C. State

Clemson

 

ALL-LEAGUE ACCOLADES

 

Preseason Player of the Year: Kyle Singler, Duke

Preseason Rookie of the Year: Harrison Barnes, North Carolina

Preseason All-League First Team:

F – Kyle Singler, Sr., Duke
F – Harrison Barnes, Fr., North Carolina
C – Tyler Zeller, Jr., North Carolina
G – Kyrie Irving, Fr., Duke
G – Nolan Smith, Duke

Top Backcourt: Duke

Top Frontcourt: North Carolina

Coach on the Hot Seat: Sidney Lowe, N.C. State

Most Underrated: Demontez Stitt, Clemson

You Don’t Know Him… Yet: Xavier Gibson, Florida State

 

THREE CAN'T MISS FROSH

 

1. Harrison Barnes, North Carolina: The long, athletic and versatile forward can do it all.

2. Kyrie Irving, Duke: He’ll get the ball from Day One in Durham and has a terrific feel for the game.

3. C.J. Leslie, N.C. State: He’s a big-time athlete who should pay immediate dividends on the frontline for Sidney Lowe.

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TOP FIVE STORYLINES

 

1. Can Duke repeat? The Blue Devils may have lost veteran point guard Jon Scheyer and also Brian Zoubek and Lance Thomas up front, but Coach K brings in talented floor leader Kyrie Irving and also adds Stephen Curry’s little brother, Seth, who sat out last season following a transfer from Liberty.

2. Can North Carolina get back into the national picture? Roy Williams team just lost too much after winning the national championship two years ago. The Tar Heels didn’t have shooters, leadership or a go-to guy. Now, with the addition of a freshman class that's led by do-it-all forward Harrison Barnes, the fans in Chapel Hill won’t be worried about just making the Big Dance. They’ll be hoping for a Final Four.

3. Greenberg Dancing? Virginia Tech has been left out of the equation for the NCAA tournament for the past few years, but Hokies head coach Seth Greenberg returns most of his team — including senior guard Malcolm Delaney.

4. Coaching Turnover: Al Skinner and Dino Gaudio were fired, and Oliver Purnell left for DePaul. Now, Steve Donahue takes over at Boston College, Jeff Bzdelik is the new coach at Wake Forest and Brad Brownell replaces Purnell at Clemson. The only one with a legit chance this season is Brownell, who is a terrific coach and inherits enough talent to make an NCAA tourney appearance this year.

5. Can Sidney Lowe save his job? The N.C. State head man has come up empty thus far in terms of NCAA tournament appearances in his four seasons at the helm, but the Wolfpack bring back Tracy Smith and welcome in a big-time freshman class that includes C.J. Leslie, Lorenzo Brown and Ryan Harrow.

Tagged: North Carolina State, Wake Forest, Clemson, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Duke, Florida State, Virginia Tech, Miami (FL), Jeff Allen, Kyle Singler, Nolan Smith, Demontez Stitt, Malcolm Delaney, Kyrie Irving, Harrison Barnes

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