Who Are the People In Your Neighborhood?


Al-Farouq Aminu gone. Ed Davis gone. Malcolm Delaney gone (maybe). Derrick Favors gone. Gani Lawal gone. Sylven Landesberg gone.

Those are the ACC’s early entries to the NBA. Compared to the rest of college basketball, the ACC doesn’t have too much to complain about. Hell, Kentucky is losing five players all by themselves. Yet, when you mix in the announced early entries with those who still might go, plus thrown in the departing seniors, man this conference is losing some talent.

Other possible early entries are Kyle Singler, Chris Singleton and Solomon Alabi.

As for the big name seniors who have played their final ACC game, you’re looking at Jon Scheyer, Greivis Vasquez, Trevor Booker, Deon Thompson, Ishmael Smith, Landon Milbourne, Dwayne Collins, Chas McFarland, Eric Hayes, Brian Zoubek and Lance Thomas.

That’s a lot of stats leaving the Atlantic Coast Conference (assuming Singler, Alabi, Singleton and Delaney all go).

SCORING: Seven of the top nine scorers would be gone, 13 of the top 20.
REBOUNDING: Six of the top seven rebounders will be gone, 12 of the top 20.
ASSISTS: Four of the top six assists leaders.
THREE-PT SHOOTING: Six of the top nine three-point shooters are out of here.
BLOCKS: Six of the top eight shot blockers.

Thank God they put names on the jersey, because you might need them to know who’s playing for who.

So who will be the stars of the ACC in 2010-2011?

If I had to do a “way-too-soon” All-ACC First, Second and Third team…here’s how I would lay it out (again, this assumes Kyle, Alabi, Singleton and Delaney are gone).

FIRST TEAM, ALL-ACC (2010-2011)
G – Kyrie Irving (Duke): He and Smith will potentially make up the best guard duo in the nation. Yes, I said nation.
G – Nolan Smith (Duke): Nolan is a preseason favorite for ACC Player of the year.
F – Harrison Barnes (UNC): Believe the hype. He’s one-and-done and will put Carolina back in the top-20.
F – Jordan Williams (Mary): Jordan will average a double-double next season, becoming the Terps best player.
F – Tracy Smith (NC St): He probably should have been on my first-team this past year.

SECOND TEAM, ALL-ACC (2010-2011)
G – Dorenzo Hudson (Va Tech): He has to get his 3-pt shooting above 30%.
G – Demontez Stitt (Clemson): He will become the No 1 option for the Tigers.
G – Reggie Jackson (BC): He’ll earn it over teammate, Trapani.
F – Jeff Allen (Va Tech): He can become a double-double guy if he concentrates on the boards.
F – John Henson (UNC): He’ll spend the summer bulking up and will become a defensive force.

THIRD TEAM, ALL-ACC (2010-2011)
G – Larry Drew II (UNC): Yep, I’m saying it. He averaged six assists in a bad year, his numbers can only get better, right?
G – Michael Snaer: (FSU): Scorers tend to breakout in year two.
F – C.J. Leslie (NC St): Of course, this assumes he heads to Raleigh.
F – Mason Plumlee (Duke): The one guy who will benefit from having Irving run the point.
F – Travis McKie (Wake): Wake’s rookies are going to get plenty of playing time.

These are my top-15, but that doesn’t mean I think they’re the only good players next year. In fact, here’s a list of guys who can easily put themselves on this list (in no particular order): Seth Curry (Duke), Miles Plumlee (Duke), Reggie Bullock (UNC), Tyler Zeller (UNC), Joe Trapina (BC), Devin Booker (Clemson), Derwin Kitchen (FSU), Iman Shumpert (GA Tech), Glenn Rice Jr. (GA Tech), Durand Scott (Mia), Mychal Parker (Mary), Scott Wood (NC St) Ryan Harrow (NC St), Mike Scott (Virginia) and K.T. Harrell (Virginia).

You know what, that’s not a bad group of players. In fact, I’m a little impressed. The ACC is going to have a nice mixture of pure talent (Duke, Carolina) and experienced teams (Virginia Tech, Boston College, Clemson). Maybe those jersey names won’t be needed after all.

So dare I throw together a “way too early” preseason ACC Ranking? You bet your ass I should (again, no Kyle, Singleton, Alabi or Delaney).

1. DUKE – Adding a Jason Williams-clone to the mix will make up for the loss of Scheyer, Zoubek, Thomas and Singler (assuming he goes). Of course if Singler stays, the Devils are the country’s preseason #1.
2. NORTH CAROLINA – If Roy can get this group to play defense (I know, that’s asking a lot), Carolina can return to the top of the ACC.
3. NC STATE – If C.J. Leslie goes elsewhere, you can drop the Wolfpack down about five spots.
4. MARYLAND – I’m putting a lot of faith in Gary Williams and his ability to make the Terps forget all about Vasquez.
5. GEORGIA TECH – Derrick Favors wasn’t the only top talent Hewitt landed last year. Look for the sophomores (Udofia, Rice, Olivier) to lead the way.
6. CLEMSON – Seven of the top nine scorers are back and the top four (Stitt, Young, Smith and Grant) are all upperclassmen.
7. VIRGINA TECH – If Delaney comes back, move the Hokies up a few spots. Without him, they’re still not bad with Hudson and Allen creating one of the better inside-outside duos.
8. FLORIDA STATE – With Alabi and Singleton, you can slide FSU into the top four. Without them, the Noles are a bit too young.
9. BOSTON COLLEGE – Experience. Experience. Experience. Eight of their top nine players are back, including five seniors.
10. WAKE FOREST – Wake has lost their top two players now two years in a row. Four of their top six players are gone and only one potential starter (Tony Woods) is an upperclassman.
11. MIAMI – There are bits of talent here, but they appear to be all guards. Coach Haith’s seat is going to start to feel warm.
12. VIRGINIA – The future is bright, but the Cavaliers are still 2-3 years away from really competing.

Of course, there is already talk about the ACC being down again this year, including talk on this blog…by me…in this post.

The fact is, look at any “experts” top-25 for next year, it’s a who’s who of who’s not in the ACC. Right now you have Duke in the top five and North Carolina in the top 15.

The Big 10 has Michigan State, Purdue (if Johnson returns) and Ohio State in the top 10 along and Wisconsin in the top 20.

The Big East, they got so many teams in that conference, how can you not have a handful of top teams? Looking ahead, you have to have Georgetown, Villanova, Pittsburgh and Syracuse in the top-25.

The Big 12 can throw in Kansas State, Kansas, Baylor and Missouri, although only one (K-State) is top-10.

While the SEC may have more top-25 teams (Kentucky, Florida and Vanderbilt), I would argue the ACC is stronger from top to bottom. As for the PAC 10, they’ll be better, but they’re still the weakest conference.

Yet, it’s not all about preseason top 25 rankings. Why else is there all the ‘down’ talk? The ACC has won five of the last 10 NCAA championships, what more can a league do to impress you?

It’s a fair point. Five titles is pretty amazing. No other conference has more than two. The thing is though, I think looking back a full decade to determine if a conference is good now, is too far back…and before you curse me out, I’m aware the ACC has won the last two titles (and three out of six).

The argument I’ve made is that the ACC has a tendency to be top heavy. Teams like Duke and North Carolina keep bringing home the gold, while the rest tend to live in these two team’s shadows. Saying the ACC is a great conference right now solely based on Duke and Carolina’s titles is like saying the Baldwin family is a great acting family.

Alex Baldwin is the Duke/North Carolina of the ACC. While those two teams will have a bad year from time to time (just like Alex will pick a bad role from time to time), overall, these two teams bring home all the awards. And sure, another Baldwin will every once in a while come through with a great performance (Stephen Baldwin in ‘The Usual Suspects’ = Maryland’s title in 2002 and William Baldwin in ‘Flatliners’ = Georgia Tech’s 2004 finals run), but overall you’ll never consider Stephen, William and Daniel Baldwin to be great.

In the end, teams will be judged based on where they are seeded in the tournament and how they perform in the NCAA Tournament.

Now Duke and North Carolina understand this. Since the 2002-2003 season, Duke/Carolina are a combined 38-10 in the NCAA Tournament. They have combined for nine trips to the Sweet 16.

The other 10 schools? They are a combined 27-27 and have reached the second weekend of the tournament only four times TOTAL. Again, that’s 10 schools with only four trips to the Sweet 16. Since Stephen Baldwin Maryland last won their title in 2002, only Georgia Tech has found a way to advance past the sweet 16.

Below is how each team has done in the tourney since 2002-2003 (and how many trips to the Sweet 16 they’ve had).
NC 21-4 (4)
Duke 17-6 (5)
Ga Tech 7-4 (1)
NC State 4-3 (1)
BC 5-5 (1)
Wake 4-4 (1)
Maryland 4-4 (0)
Miami 1-1 (0)
Virginia 1-1 (0)
Va Tech 1-1 (0)
Clemson 0-2 (0)
FSU 0-2 (0)

If you look at just the last four years, it gets even uglier. Duke and North Carolina have combined to go 22-5 in the last four seasons (crashing the Sweet-16 five times).

The other 10 teams? They’ve gone 9-17 in the tournament, producing zero Sweet 16 trips. Zero. That’s bad.

For the ACC to rise back to the top (as a whole) to THE elite conference, it needs to be more than just two teams doing all the dirty work. Two or three other teams need to advance to the Sweet 16. I’m not saying we need three ACC teams in the Final Four, but it would be nice to have three ACC teams in the Sweet 16 again.