Now that the College basketball season has ended I haven’t felt compelled to write much. Since basketball is my favorite sport and it ended with a first round loss for Duke to unheralded Leheigh, and Kentucky winning it all, it kinda took the fire out of it. Not that I didn’t still enjoy it, I did. I suppose when your team loses it takes some of the fun out of it for anybody. So when that happens, all we can do is start looking to next year and hope for brighter days. So what will the ACC look like next year?
From the way things look, what had been the middle echelon teams will have a solid chance of moving closer to the upper echelon. The upper echelon teams may move down to the middle. While there are still some major recruits yet to decide (which may or may not put things back in the order we’ve known for so long and considering any transfers that might happen) the ACC hierarchy looks to reshuffle.
Carolina was bitten hard by the injury bug that cost them any chance of fulfilling their hopes of another Championship. I still believe they would have been the best match up against Kentucky, more so than any other team in the country, but I also think they would have lost to the Wildcats. Carolina’s team has been decimated by Zeller graduating and the early departure of Henson, Marshall, and Barnes. This leaves gaping holes in their team and a huge question mark for next year. Without landing any of the major recruits out there, or transfers, UNC could be in real trouble next season.
Florida St looks promising for next season. After huge wins over Duke and Carolina this year and bringing the ACC Tournament Championship home they look poised to move further up the ACC ladder. The Seminoles were ranked in the top 15 in the final polls from both ranking services to end the year. Leonard Hamilton was the ACC Coach Of the Year and he has the Noles headed in the right direction.
Maybe no team from the ACC came away with more hope from the NCAA Tournament than NC State. A nice showing by the Wolf Pack in the tournament has given State fans lots to look forward to next year, especially when you consider their incoming recruiting class. For the first time in more years than I’m sure the State fans care to remember it looks like they will set the standard in the ACC next year. Debbie Yow is looking much smarter with the hiring of Mark Gottfried than we gave her credit for.
Duke lost Miles Plumlee to graduation, and Austin Rivers to the NBA. Mason Plumlee is still considering his future, his decision looms big for the Blue Devils. The rest of the team returns and Duke like Carolina, could certainly use a couple of the major recruits that are still deciding which School they’ll attend. Duke will bring in highly touted Rasheed Sulaimon and the Blue Devils should have another good year but without landed another recruit or two is not likely to raise any banners in Cameron Indoor.
Virginia, Clemson, Maryland, and Miami look to up the ante as well but have a little work to do. Tony Bennett, Brad Brownell, Mark Turgeon and Jim Larranaga are good coaches and should have a nice team on the floor next year. The other teams Wake, BC, VT, GT have major work to do to bring up the lower echelon of the ACC.
When it’s all said and done you have to believe that Coach K and Roy Williams will have something to say about how next season will shape up. So until someone proves that to be wrong most of us will continue to believe that.
*Should be noted that Syracuse and Pitt if added next season, might also have a say.