Outlook: The Tigers lose three of their starters from last year's NCAA Tournament team. They do add back the leading scorer and rebounder from last season, Trevor Booker, and one of the highest rated recruits in Clemson history in Milton Jennings. Jennings adds size (6'9) and versatility to play the three or four spot and will be expected to contribute immediately for the Tigers. Starting point guard Demontez Stitt started every game last year and averaged 8.7 points and 3.4 assists. Expect his role to be increased this season without Oglesby or Rivers in the backcourt with him.
Prediction: Coach Oliver Purnell has done a nice job of turning this program around. The Tigers will be competitive this year, although probably not as successful as last season. A seventh place finish can be expected of Clemson.
Florida State Seminoles
Outlook: The Seminoles are a young squad this year with unlimited potential. They lose their leader and ACC Defensive Player of the Year in Douglas who led the ‘Noles into the NCAA Tournament. Florda State needs big contributions from sophomore Soloman Alabi and Chris Singleton. Alabi is a raw and athletic seven-footer with great defensive ability. Last year he looked out of sync offensively, but with a year of experience under his belt he should be ready to take on a larger role within the offense.
Chris Singleton also had a productive freshman season last year and will likely be the focal point of the offense this year. He showed glimpses of his ability last year but will be counted on this year to produce consistently. 6'11 sophomore Xavier Gibson will also provide depth in what could be one of the best frontcourts in the conference. Freshman Michael Snaer rated as one of the top recruits in the country and the 6'5 guard will come in right away and play for the Seminoles.
Prediction: Florida State is such a young squad it is hard to predict where they might end up. Talent wise they are one of the top teams in the conference but they will miss the poise and leadership of Toney Douglas. They will need solid guard play or else they may finish as low as eighth in the league.
Virginia Tech Hokies
Outlook: The Hokies lose Vassallo from their three-headed attack last season, which propelled them to 19 wins. However, Malcolm Delaney returns as possibly the most talented guard in the ACC, after averaging 18 points a game as a sophomore. The powerful Jeff Allen is also returning. Allen is a bit undersized at the four (he stands at 6'7) but is strong and works hard to gain rebounds and second chance buckets. Aside from those two, Virginia Tech also returns starter Dorenzo Hudson who will provide help for Delaney in the backcourt.
Prediction: Virginia Tech will always have a chance in a game with Delaney on the floor. He has great range and a knack for hitting the big shot. They lack depth and talent around him though and could struggle at times this season. They will likely finish near the bottom of the league in ninth place.
Key losses: Mamadi Diane
Outlook: ACC Freshman of the year Sylven Landesberg will once again be the heart and soul of the team. New coach Tony Bennett brings a new offensive system from Washington State that keys on ball control and slowing down the game. This could prove troublesome for some ACC opponents but, overall Virginia lacks the firepower and is still a few years away from being competitive. Along with Landesberg Mike Scott will be counted on to duplicate his double-digit scoring efforts from last year. Calvin Baker and Sammy Zeglinski also return from last year's starting lineup.
Prediction: Tony Bennett brings a fresh start in Charlottesville but it will not be enough to get the Cavaliers back on the winning track. Virginia will finish in tenth place.
Outlook: The loss of Jack McClinton will be a significant hurdle for the Hurricanes to overcome. It all begins with rugged senior Dwayne Collins. Collins is a scrappy forward and solid rebounder. They also add point guard Malcolm Grant into the mix. Grant sat out last season after transferring from Villanova. Sophomore DeQuan Jones is an electric athlete and has explosive ability when driving in the lane. Senior James Dews is a solid three-point shooter and steady performer.
Prediction: Miami has plenty of new and untested players in the mix. They will go through an adjustment period without having the luxury of relying on McClinton to lead the offense. The inexperience will hurt them this year as they go through a rebuilding phase. Miami will be near the cellar finishing eleventh in the ACC.
North Carolina State Wolfpack
Outlook: North Carolina State is in for a long season. They lose their top three scorers and top two rebounders. Juniors Javier Gonzalez and Tracy Smith will be expected to lead the offense. Freshman Richard Howell or Scott Wood could be thrown into the mix as well. The Wolfpack will struggle offensively putting up points this season and obviously this will be a problem all season. They need some unexpected contributors like Dennis Horner or Farnold Degand to emerge as a consistent scoring threat.
Prediction: North Carolina State has very little talent of experience returning on their roster and obviously this is a tough situation to win with. Barring a huge surprise, the Wolfpack should finish in last place this year.