Wednesday marked the beginning of faculty basketball’s preseason. It is the primary day groups had been allowed to correctly apply in earnest. Even nonetheless, dozens of groups will not but give you the chance to take action due to COVID-19 restrictions of their components of the nation. However for a whole lot of faculties, the season formally begins this week.
And so right here we go together with our annual big-conference predictions and previews. We begin with the most important convention in faculty basketball, the 15-team ACC. Now, I am by no means one to cover from missed predictions. And I used to be pretty off on the ACC final season. On this very area a yr in the past I predicted the Atlantic Coast Convention was going to have its finest season in nearly 15 years. I predicted it could end No. 1 at KenPom.com in strength-of-league metrics. I predicted convention depth and matching of longstanding repute with on-court outcomes.
Not likely. Not a lot. OK — in no way. The ACC completed fourth in convention efficiency and didn’t have one workforce predicted by the vast majority of bracket prognosticators to be a No. 1 seed when the season was canceled March 12. Worse than that, the ACC had solely 5 groups — Florida State, Duke, Louisville, Virginia and NC State — projected by the bulk to even make the 2020 NCAA Event (That By no means Was). FSU, Duke, Louisville and UVA had been the one 4 groups with single digits within the loss column; the collective file of the opposite 11 groups was 178-172. That is tough.
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It will be rational to consider that this season ought to present enchancment, however contemplating that Duke misplaced three potential first-round picks, FSU misplaced a number of first-round NBA picks, UNC is coming off its worst season ever below Roy Williams and Louisville misplaced its beginning 5, there’s extra thriller than common within the old-money convention of faculty basketball. Toss in COVID-19 and who is aware of?
ACC Preseason Participant of the Yr
Garrison Brooks, UNC
The ACC’s highest-scoring returning participant. Brooks averaged a number of the quietest 16.8 factors you may ever get from a Tar Heel. However that is as a result of his NBA-bound one-and-done teammate, Cole Anthony, put up 18.5 per evening and UNC suffered one of many three or 4 worst seasons in program historical past. We’re not anticipating Brooks and firm to be coping with a sub-.500 season once more. The senior energy ahead would be the focus of an improved Tar Heels roster. Not solely was Brooks No. 5 in ACC scoring final season, he was additionally No. 5 in rebounding (8.5). Whereas an incoming freshman might wind up shining brightest, objectively talking there isn’t any extra affordable alternative for preseason ACC Preseason Participant of the Yr than Brooks.
ACC Preseason Coach of the Yr
Tony Bennett, Virginia
With Virginia poised to be one of the best workforce within the ACC for the fourth time in eight years, Bennett is given the nod because of an augmented roster that may very well be highlighted by redshirt senior Sam Hauser. The Wahoos ended the 2019-20 season on an eight-game profitable streak, ending 23-7. Bennett had, for the seventh time, a top-five protection based on KenPom.com. Actually, UVA was No. 1 final on D season and doubtless will likely be No. 1 this season. With no ACC workforce seeking to make a major year-over-year soar, Bennett is the apparent decide heading into November.
ACC Preseason Freshman of the Yr
Jalen Johnson, Duke
The ACC technically refers to this award because the “Rookie of the Yr,” and Duke has boasted the ACC’s prime freshman a conference-record 12 instances for the reason that honor was launched in 1976. But it surely hasn’t all the time been like this. Duke solely just lately handed Georgia Tech’s 11 (!) because of a Blue Satan profitable in six of the previous seven seasons and 7 of the previous 9. Here is who Jalen Johnson is in line to affix if he winds up being a greater freshman than Florida State’s Scottie Barnes, North Carolina’s Caleb Love and Duke teammate Jeremy Roach, amongst others: Austin Rivers (2012), Jabari Parker (2014), Jahlil Okafor (2015), Brandon Ingram (2016), Marvin Bagley III (2018), Zion Williamson (2019), Vernon Carey Jr. (2020).