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ACC College Basketball Preview 2022-23

The ACC is a very interesting conference this year. Coach Krzyzewski has officially called it a career after a historic tenure with Duke. North Carolina, with a chip on their shoulder, looks to avenge their loss in the National Championship last season. Multiple other teams are looking to get back into the tournament. With "secret scrimmages" getting ready to commence this week, I think it's about time I release my ACC Conference predictions. This will include my predictions on player awards, certain teams, and how I expect the conference to go this year.

Photo Credit: Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports

1. North Carolina

North Carolina is back in business. This should be their conference moving forward with what they brought in and returned. They returned everyone from the National Championship squad minus Brady Manek. The Tar Heels hit the portal pretty hard. They added a very quality forward in Pete Nance from Northwestern who they look for to have the same amount of production as Manek. Puff Johnson and Dontrez Styles will be very key for the Tar Heels off the bench. They had their moments in the tournament that saved their season. North Carolina also adds in freshman guard Seth Trimble and freshman forward Jalen Washington to help give the starters some quick breathers. RJ Davis and Caleb Love are the best offensive backcourt in the ACC, and mix that in with the best big man in the conference, Armando Bacot. Leaky Black also returns, and he is an defensive caliber player. Hubert Davis has gotten his feet wet after making the National Championship in only his first year as a head coach. The Tar Heels are undoubtably a top 5 team across the country, and are in contention for a 1 seed come March.

2. Virginia

After a very mediocre season last season with an almost entire new team, Tony Bennett has the Cavaliers back right where they belong in the ACC. The entire team is back besides one role player. Kihei Clark and Reece Beekman are a force guarding the perimeter, and will give hell to opposing teams guards. Jayden Gardner brings back his scoring repertoire. Armaan Franklin and one of either Kadin Shedrick or Francisco Caffaro should round out the starting five. Tony Bennett did not stop there though, as he went out and got Ben Vander Plaas from Ohio for quality depth. The freshman he added (Isaac McKneely, Isaac Traudt, and Leon Bond) could provide quality minutes off the bench immediately, something you often do not see with Virginia teams. Tony Bennett is one of the best coaches in all of college basketball, and this team could seriously finish as a top 4 seed come tournament time.

3. Duke

I have already written an article on this, so I will keep this short and sweet. Duke has one quality returner, and a new head coach. There will be tough times for the Blue Devils at first, but the talent they possess should help them prevail. I see Duke's ceiling as a 3 seed, and their floor as a 5 seed. The talent they have will win them games this year, but it will come down to Jon Scheyer being able to get the team to gel quick enough.

4. Miami

Miami made a great cinderella run last year before being defeated by the eventual National Champions, Kansas. The bulk of their team is gone though, as Charlie Moore, Kam McGusty, and Sam Waardenburg have moved on from the program. Jim Larrañaga has reloaded though. Isaiah Wong is back for the Hurricanes, and he is a flamethrower when it comes to scoring. Nijel Pack was a first team All-Big 12 guard last season, and he can also score the ball at will despite his smaller stature. Jordan Miller has returned with his very chippy defense, and Norchad Omier was added in down low anchoring the paint. Bensley Joseph is expected to be the teams other starting guard in the lineup. Anthony Walker, AJ Casey, Wooga Poplar, and Harlond Beverly (back from injury) are also very quality bench pieces for Larrañaga's squad. Miami is a tournament lock, and look to have the same amount of success in the tournament they had last year.

5. Florida State

After last years disastrous season for Leonard Hamilton, the Seminoles are back in the top 5 of the ACC. The Seminoles were looking really good early on, even upsetting Duke in overtime. Unfortunately, the injuries plagued them after that, and it was only downhill from there. 13 different starting lineups is definitely not the key to having a successful season. This year, Florida State will look to get back on track. Jalen Warley returns to man the starting point guard duties, Caleb Mills will once again be the primary scorer for the Seminoles, Naheem McLeod will anchor the middle standing at 7'4", and Matthew Cleveland has serious NBA potential if everything taps in. Darin Green was added in from UCF, and he is an absolute SNIPER from the 3 ball. The Seminoles also add in Spanish prospect, Baba Miller (who has not arrived on campus as of today). He is a very lanky, 6'11" forward, but he is an absolute ball player. Expect for him to be the Seminoles sixth man (as usual with Hamilton's best NBA Draft Prospect). Cam'Ron Fletcher, Chandler Jackson, and Cameron Corhen (due to the season ending injury of transfer Jaylen Gainey) will be the other main reserves for Hamilton's squad this year. The Seminoles will be back in the tournament, and could possibly win a game or two.

6. Virginia Tech

After a great run in the ACC Tournament last year, Mike Young's Hokies will have to make a few changes to get back to the tournament. Keve Aluma, the star of last year's team, is gone after two very solid year with Virginia Tech. Naheim Alleyne has transferred to UConn, and Storm Murphy has moved on from the program. All eyes should be turned on guards, Sean Pedulla and Darius Maddox (who I will have an article on shortly). Both of these players had their moments last year off the bench, but now they have to make strong leaps forward for the Hokie's to get back into the tournament. Luckily, Virginia Tech will get back their best three pointer shooter, Hunter Cattoor, and one of the best glue guys in the nation, Justyn Mutts. The return of Mutts was one of the best things that could have happened for this team. He lays it all on the line, and is typically the guy you see in every 50/50 ball situation. Grant Basile, transfer from Wright State, will have to fill in the massive shoes of Aluma right off the bat. Coach Young also adds in a very solid freshman guard, Rodney Rice. He will have a very strong roll with the Hokies immediately off the bench. Coach Young also adds in a few transfer, that being Memphis forward John Camden and Rice big man Mylyjael Poteat. Expect the Hokie's to once again be a tournament team, but a spot on the bubble is also not out of this world.

7. Notre Dame

The Fighting Irish are right in the middle of the pack of the ACC this upcoming season. They lost Blake Wesley to the NBA draft, Prentiss Hubb to graduation, and Paul Atkinson to graduation. Mike Brey loves his offense (especially his three point shooting), and he got back Dane Goodwin, Cormac Ryan, and Nate Laszewski. All of these guys can stretch the floor and make teams pay for not defending that. JJ Starling, Notre Dame's highest ranked recruit of all time, will have some big shoes to fill at the point guard duties. Coach Brey also added Niagara transfer, Marcus Hammond. He's expected to be another scorer for the Irish, and should slot right into that 4 guard offense along with Starling, Ryan, and Goodwin. Trey Wertz is also back, and he will yet again be a quality bench piece for Coach Brey. Freshman forward, Ven-Allen Lubin will also be a major piece off the bench, as Notre Dame lacks big men depth. Notre Dame is without a doubt a bubble team this upcoming season, but do not be surprised if they were to miss the tournament.

8. Syracuse

Jim Boeheim's legendary career as the coach of Syracuse is winding down, and this could be his final year. Last year, Syracuse went 16-17 on the season. This was Boeheim's worst year ever of his career, but the hits do not stop coming, both of his sons, Buddy and Jimmy, have moved on from the program, and Cole Swider also left for the NBA draft. These three are massive losses for Coach Boeheim, but a few positives remain. Joe Girard is back, and it's been said that he's going to move off the ball. With this move, expect Girard to put up numbers as he can stretch the floor tremendously. Jesse Edwards is also back for the Orange after suffering an injury late in the season. He's a defensive anchor down low, and will also be able to put up points. Benny Williams is expected to make a big jump in his game as a starter now that Swider is gone. Boeheim also added some very key freshman. Judah Mintz is expected to be the teams starting point guard right out the gates. He can really score the ball, but his efficiency is a question mark. Chris Bunch or Justin Taylor are in a position battle currently for the starting small forward spot. Whoever does not get the starting spot will be the sixth man off the bench. The other two quality reserves this year are guard Symir Torrence and center Mounir Hima, a transfer from Duquesne. Syracuse more than likely will not make the tournament this upcoming season, but a run in the ACC tournament is not out of the question knowing Boeheim when he is an underdog.

9. Boston College

Personally, I am a fan of Earl Grant and his team this year. Boston College has not been the greatest program recently, but improvements are being made within the program. They return 4/5 starters from last years team that made the ACC Quarterfinals as the 13 seed (ended Wake Forest chances of making the tournament). Makai-Ashton Langford will hold down the point guard duties, Jaeden Zackary is also a very solid guard both offensively and defensively, DeMarr Langford is poised for an even bigger season, and Quinten Post showed what he was capable of in the ACC Tournament. TJ Bickerstaff will most likely be the other starter after having a solid year primarily off the bench. Prince Aligbe is also going to have a very big role from the jump as a freshman for Coach Grant. Mason Madsen, transfer from Cincinnati, will provide some shooting off the bench as well for Boston College. Don't think Boston College is a tournament team yet, but the NIT is a very solid start for them revitalizing the program.

10. NC State

It's fairly safe to say Kevin Keatts in on the hot seat for the Wolfpack. NC State hasn't been particularly good as of recently despite having some very good players on the team. Speaking of good players, Terquavion Smith is a future NBA player. His scoring ability is very, very good. He is going to get his on the offensive end, not many can guard him. Unfortunately, Manny Bates decided to transfer to Butler this off-season. He was an absolute unit on the defensive end, as he would swat shots away with minimal effort. Casey Morsell is also back as he can decently stretch the floor, but would not really call him a "difference maker". Coach Keatts did scoop up guard Jarkel Joiner (Ole Miss) and forward DJ Burns (Winthrop) in the transfer portal this off-season to soften the blows left by Dereon Seabron (NBA Draft) and Bates. Greg Gantt is also expected to start at the power forward for Keatts. Other than that, no other names really stand out on this roster for NC State. Smith will be able to carry the offensive load and win some games for the Wolfpack, but with little talent compared to the top dogs in the conference it will get rough. A lower seed in the NIT is the ceiling at that, but do not expect anything to come from this NC State team. This could be Keatts final season in Raleigh after a stint of five years.

11. Pittsburgh

Pitt has been historically bad as of recently. Jeff Capel has taken over, and nothing has really turned around. While Pitt has been bad, there is some potential this year for some good to happen. For starters, John Hugley is an animal. He can score and he can rebound the ball relatively easy. Capel also recruited highly talented freshman, Dior Johnson. Pending his current criminal charges against him, he will make an impact on the team immediately with his scoring and facilitating. Jamarius Burton decided to use his final year of college eligibility with Pitt, and is a big key for the Panthers defense. Coach Capel also hit the portal this off-season, and got some solid guys. Nelly Cummings out of Colgate can score the ball and shoot it from 3, Greg Elliot from Marquette can defend really well, and Blake Hinson, who has not played since 2020, is a forward who can shoot the ball. Nike Sibande is back from injury, and Nate Santos will provide minutes off the bench. The lineup should look something like this: Nelly Cummings, Dior Johnson, Jamarius Burton, Blake Hinson, and John Hugley. There is definitely potential there for Pitt to make some noise. The question now comes down to if Capel can coach his way into victory.

12. Wake Forest

After a fairly promising regular season last year that ended in complete heartbreak for the Demon Deacons, Steve Forbes has to go back into rebuilding. Forbes actually won the ACC Coach of the Year Award last year, so that is something positive. The negative? Almost every single key contributor is gone from the program. ACC Player of the Year Award winner, Alondes Williams, is gone, Jake LaRavia went to the NBA Draft, Dallas Walton graduated, Khadim Sy graduated, and Isaiah Mucius also graduated. The only starter left is Daiven Williamson, and I do not really see him being a guy that will have a vast impact on the success of Wake Forest. Damari Monsato (if fully healthy) and Cameron Hildreth should see their numbers increase moving into starting roles. Coach Forbes also added a few transfers: guard Jao Ituka (Marist), guard Tyree Appleby (Florida), forward Andrew Carr (Delaware), and Davion Bradford (Kansas State). Expect Appleby and Bradford to round out the starting 5. Appleby was a very quality point guard for Florida, and Bradford played really well his freshman year at Kansa State. It's going to be a REALLY down year for Coach Forbes.

13. Louisville

The start of Kenny Payne's coaching career begins with this team. The team on paper is not the greatest though. He did get guard El Ellis and forward Sydney Curry to stay which is a solid start. Those two will be starters game 1 as everyone predicted. Payne would then go out and add Brandon Huntley-Hatfield from Tennessee. The former five-star should also start right next to Curry in the front court, and he has a lot of talent that needs to be tapped into before he heads off to the NBA. After failing to get any type of point guard in the transfer portal, Louisville settled in on Fabio Basili. He reclassified up a year to play, and while he has talent this usually is not the best scenario for any freshman to be thrown into. The other starting spot on the wing is up for grabs between freshman Kamari Lands, Sophomore Mike James (coming off injury), and freshman Devin Ree. Jae'Lyn Withers will most likely come off the bench as a power forward. A lot of new faces in this program, so it will indeed be a tough year for the Cardinals. We now wait and see if Coach Payne is a force to be reckoned with on the recruiting end.

14. Clemson

The roster for Clemson this season is definitely in rebuild mode. They lose 3/5 top scorers. PJ Hall returns for Brad Brownell's squad, but he currently just got surgery for his knee. The timetable is unknown, and this could really be a massive detriment to Clemson. Hunter Tyson was the other top 5 scorer to return and he will slot in at the 4 position. He along with PJ Hall are the two best rebounders on the team. The rest of the starting lineup will be made up of these guards: Josh Beadle, Chase Hunter, and Alex Hemenway. Josh Beadle had a very nice foreign trip averaging 13.3 points a game. Chase Hunter and Alex Hemenway both can stretch the floor, especially Hemenway who shot the three ball at around 41% on the season. Brevin Galloway is coming in from Boston College, and he will be a nice piece of the bench. Dillon Hunter is also coming as a freshman. He decommitted from Baylor last year with the expectation that he will look for a bigger role as soon as possible. The talent level is just simply not there for Clemson this year. PJ Hall's knee injury will be something to watch because if he is out/not up to 100%, the Tigers will be in for a brutal season.

15. Georgia Tech

Last but not least, The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets! There is a reason they are at the bottom. Michael Devoe is gone, and he was an absolute beast when it came to scoring. Outside of him and Jordan Usher (who has also moved on from the program), not much else came on the scoring end. Kyle Sturdivant returns as the point guard for the Yellow Jackets. He is best at getting to the rim, and he can move the rock pretty well. Deebo Coleman will without a doubt be the player to watch for Josh Pastner's squad. He shot the ball at a 41% clip from beyond the arc last year, and that was with over 100 attempts. Coleman has a very nice shooting stroke, and with his length he will able to shoot over opposing teams defenders. His usage will definitely increase as he moves into the starting lineup at the 3. Rodney Howard will be the center this year, and he is a traditional center. He scores in the paint every now and then (never attempted a three pointer throughout his career), and rebounds the ball at solid rate while racking up fouls. Coach Pastner would add in a few transfers that will start this year, the first being Lance Terry. He comes from Gardner Webb, and will move into the shooting guard spot. He is able to spread the floor, but mainly works his magic in the paint and mid range. At the 4, Javon Franklin comes from South Alabama. He's a very strong individual whose game is best suited in the paint. Off the bench, Deivion Smith is the only true contributor. He's a little guard who knows how to dish the ball to his teammates, but his shooting hinders him. Like the other bottom of the pack teams, Georgia Tech does not have the talent to keep up with the top schools. In all seriousness, Only 2 or 3 wins is possible for the Yellow Jackets this season. In a down year, there will be a few positives to arrive longterm.


All Conference Teams

Photo Credit: NC State Athletics

Last year, a multitude of talent was featured on all three teams. Some of those players were high picks or first rounders. This year, it is a whole new game. Out of the 15 players selected, only 4 players return leaving a vast amount of opportunities for players to showcase how truly good they are.

All-ACC First Team

G - RJ Davis - North Carolina
G - Terquavion Smith - NC State
G - Isiah Wong - Miami
G - Dariq Whitehead - Duke
F - Armando Bacot - North Carolina

Photo Credit: Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports

All-ACC Second Team

G - Caleb Love - North Carolina
G - Nijel Pack - Miami
G - Jeremy Roach - Duke
F - Jayden Gardner - Virginia
F - John Hugley - Pitt

Photo Credit: Syracuse University Athletics

All-ACC Third Team

G - Joe Girard - Syracuse
G - Reece Beekman - Virginia
G - Dane Goodwin - Notre Dame
F - Matthew Cleveland - Florida State
F - Justyn Mutts - Virginia Tech

Photo Credit: 247 Sports

All-ACC Defensive Team

G - Reece Beekman - Virginia
F - Leaky Black - North Carolina
F - Jordan Miller - Miami
F - Jesse Edwards - Syracuse
C - Dereck Lively II - Duke

Photo Credit: Duke Athletics

All-ACC Rookie Team

G - Judah Mintz - Syracuse
G - Josh Beadle - Clemson
G - Dariq Whitehead - Duke
F - Baba Miller - Florida State
C - Dereck Lively II - Duke

All Conference Awards

Photo Credit: Mitchell Leff/USA Sports Today

ACC Player of the Year

Armando Bacot - North Carolina

ACC Rookie of the Year

Dariq Whitehead - Duke

ACC Coach of the Year

Tony Bennett - Virginia

ACC Defensive Player of the Year

Reece Beekman - Virginia

ACC Most Improved Player of the Year

Jeremy Roach - Duke

ACC Sixth Man of the Year

Baba Miller - Florida State

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