The ACC Guru
Preseason Predicted Standings
We're officially 6 days away from tip-off of the '21-'22 basketball season. While there aren't a ton of enticing games next Tuesday, it doesn't matter. Basketball will be back, 12 ACC teams will be in action, and I personally cannot wait.
Today, I'm bringing you my preseason predicted standings. This does not reflect how good I think each team is, this is just me looking into my crystal ball and predicting where these teams will be in the standings when they head to Brooklyn in March. I will be bringing you power rankings every week to reflect which teams are playing the best at that time, but I'll begin that after the first week concludes. For today, it's prediction time!
1. Florida State- There are 2 teams that are probably more talented than Florida State this year, but it’s hard to trust them more than Leonard Hamilton’s squad. FSU has only finished outside the top 4 in the ACC once in the last 5 years. They’re deep, they’re long, and I think they’ll find themselves atop the standings this year.
2. North Carolina- Hubert Davis has a loaded team in his first year as the main guy. Even after losing a few guys to the transfer portal and NBA, they’re probably the most talented team in the conference. R.J. Davis and Leaky Black would start for every other team in this league, but one of them will be coming off the bench for The Heels along with two top 50 recruits. This team could be special. Side note: if you only watch one preseason tournament this year, make it the Hall of Fame Tip Off. The field includes North Carolina (AP #19), Purdue (#7), Villanova (#4), and Tennessee (#18).
3. Duke- Coach K is finally hanging up the whistle at the end of the year, and he has another team full of 5 stars to show off during his farewell tour. Duke was picked as the Preseason favorite again (even though they haven’t won a regular season championship since 2010), and freshman Paolo Banchero was picked as the preseason player of the year. We’ll see if they can live up to all the expectations.
4. Virginia- Virginia lost 3 players from last year’s team to the NBA and another 4 guys left the team that were expected to contribute this year. Why is Virginia still in the top 4? Tony Bennett. It may take some time, but he knows how to get the most out of his guys. I expect this Virginia team to play great defense (as always) and play more inside-out than they normally do thanks to Jayden Gardner coming in from ECU.
5. Virginia Tech- I’m not sure how deep they are going to be, but their normal rotation is full of experience. They have 3 different players that shot over 40% from three-point range last year, and the big guys shoot well, too. Look for them to spend more time in the top 25 than out of it this year.
6. Syracuse- Buddy Boeheim is my preseason pick for ACC Player of the Year. He was the majority of their offense last year, and he should take on even more of that role this year. The zone will continue to give people fits and they should be a good team all year. They made it to the sweet sixteen last year and I don’t see why they can’t repeat that success.
7. Louisville- Louisville has a lot of talent on their roster (and players, as they list 18 guys on their official roster), but a lot of these guys are new to the program. Chris Mack has his work cut out for him to get all the potential out of this team, but there is a lot of potential there. I may end up being way too low on the Cardinals.
8. Notre Dame- The good news for Notre Dame: They return 5 guys that played major minutes last year and all have starting experience. The bad news for Notre Dame: those guys finished 7-11 in the ACC last year, good for 11th place. They do add reigning Ivy League Player of the Year in Paul Atkinson as a grad transfer from Yale. The Irish could be sneaky good this year.
9. NC State- I’m not sure what to expect out of the Wolfpack this year. Their frontcourt should be strong with Bates and Hellems. They add a couple of nice transfers and a couple of 4 Star recruits. If Kevin Keatts can find some solid production out of his guards, this team could really surprise some people.
10. Georgia Tech- I think this is the point in the rankings where we start to see a drop-off and teams with way more questions. And speaking of questions: how do you replace the ACC POY and the ACC DPOY? That’s what Josh Pastner must figure out with Moses Wright and Jose Alvarado both deciding to move on and pursue their professional careers. The trio of Michael Devoe, Jordan Usher, and Bubba Parham are going to have to step up in a major way if they want to repeat last year’s success.
11. Miami- There’s some really nice pieces to like about this Miami team. Isiah Wong is All-ACC caliber, Kameron McGusty really started coming on towards the end of the season, and I’m intrigued to see if Charlie Moore can make an impact in the ACC coming from DePaul. Miami could find themselves fighting towards the middle of the pack this year.
12. Clemson- Clemson made it to the NCAA tournament last year, but I don’t see that repeating this year. I think they played over their head last year and they lost Aamir Simms. It could be a long season for Brad Brownell’s team.
13. Wake Forest- Steve Forbes has a steep hill to climb in Winston-Salem, but I think he’s headed in the right direction. They’ve got a nice combination of returning starters, transfers, and recruits. They won’t be competing for championships this year, but they may pick up some nice wins and make progress.
14. Pitt- Jeff Capel seems to be going in the wrong direction since arriving at Pitt. They finished 12th in the ACC last year and they have to replace their top 3 players. This could be the end of the Jeff Capel experiment if things don’t improve.
15. Boston College- The Eagles were last in the league last year and now they have a new head coach with his first experience in a big-time conference. Expectations are low for Earl Grant this year. Hopefully he can begin to build a nice program.