ACC Basketball Preview: Part I

Part I of a two part series on the upcoming ACC Basketball season. The top six teams will be reviewed in part I and the bottom six in part II. This season will be one of the hardest to forecast because of the abundance of new players coming into the league this year and the relative uncertainty of how well they will perform.

The "Most Important Player" category will not necessarily be the best player on the team but the one who needs to produce for the teams to reach their potential. The "Impact Newcomer" is the player thought to have the biggest overall effect on his team. As with all prognostications, these are opinions of the writer and should be taken that way.

1. UNC- This one is a pretty easy pick to make considering where they finished last season and the influx of an exceptional recruiting class to add to their returning team. The strengths are their depth, talent, and coaching from one of the best in the business. I suppose a weakness could be the meshing of all these very good players and keeping everyone happy with their amount of minutes on the floor and possibly their lack of experience inside. They will need for Tyler Hansbrough to stay healthy and out of foul trouble and for Reyshawn Terry to provide some senior leadership. The bad news for fellow ACC teams is that they are only going to get better as the season progresses and it would be a major surprise not to see this team in the Final Four.
Most Important Player- Reyshawn Terry
Impact Newcomer- Wayne Ellington

2. Virginia Tech- Yes, you read that right. The ACC is a guard-oriented league and Tech has two of the best and most experienced in the league in Zabian Dowdell and Jamon Gordon. Their guard play, with the addition of Nigel Munson, will make them a formidable backcourt that plays well on both ends. If they can avoid injuries and other distractions that they suffered last year and make some three point shots, they will be in the hunt all season. Their major weakness may be that three point shooting and their depth but this team has the potential to be very, very good.
Most Important Player- Coleman Collins
Impact Newcomer- Lewis Witcher

3. Boston College- This team could be anywhere from 2nd to 7th. While they have a good group of returning players, the loss of Craig Smith will allow more attention to be focused on Jared Dudley and his stats could suffer. The bigger loss from last year's team may turn out to be Louis Hinnant. Marquez Haynes will have to step up to provide them with a capable point guard who will get the ball inside where they have to go. They will still be a physical team but a little less so with Smith out of the line-up.
Most Important Player- Sean Williams
Impact Newcomer- Shamari Spears

4. Georgia Tech- Tech had a terrible season last year but were very young and the added experience will help. They also are bringing in an excellent recruiting class that is a consensus top 10. Their strength is going to be inside with Ra'sean Dickey, Jeremis Smith, and super freshman Thad Young. Javaris Crittenton will be thrown into the fire quickly at point and his growth will determine how far the Jackets can go. With consistent outside shooting of Anthony Morrow and Lewis Clinch, they will be a pretty balanced team offensively. If the freshmen develop quickly, they could finish even higher.
Most Important Player- Lewis Clinch
Impact Newcomer- Javaris Crittenton

5. Duke- This is another team who could finish from 2nd to 7th. With Greg Paulus currently injured and Josh McRoberts recurring back problems, this is a very fragile team. IF everyone can stay healthy and with the proven coaching of Coach K, they will still be a force. Very few teams can lose talented players of Shelden Wiliams, J.J. Redick and Sean Dockery's abilities and not miss a beat, and neither will Duke. Their outside shooting has been a strength for years but may turn into a weakness this season and they must find help for McRoberts down low.
Most Important Player- Greg Paulus
Impact Newcomer- Gerald Henderson

6. Virginia- Another team with outstanding guards. Sean Singletary is the best point guard in the ACC and that will carry them a long way despite major shortcomings inside. Singletary and J.R. Reynolds form the best 1-2 punch from outside in the league and will have to carry this team. With a new arena to provide excitement and the good coaching of Dave Leitao, they could finish a spot or two higher or a spot or two lower if their inside game falters.
Most Important Player- Sean Singletary
Impact Newcomer- Will Harris


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