The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) is home to some of the most popular and successful college basketball teams in the country. The ACC actually had a down year in 2019-20, but there were teams ready to go on a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.
The ACC does not have a ton of depth this season, but there are plenty of talented teams. The Virginia Cavaliers are still the defending national champions, and they will be looking to defend that title.
Duke and North Carolina both have terrific freshmen, and that should make that rivalry extremely exciting this season. The ACC will once again be one of the top conferences in the country.
Projected Order of Finish:
- Virginia Cavaliers
- North Carolina Tar Heels
- Duke Blue Devils
- Louisville Cardinals
- Florida State Seminoles
- Miami Hurricanes
- Syracuse Orange
- Clemson Tigers
- Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
- NC State Wolf Pack
- Notre Dame Fighting Irish
- Virginia Tech Hokies
- Pittsburgh Panthers
- Wake Forest Demon Deacons
- Boston College Eagles
The ACC feels like it will be a three-team race for the top spot this year, although there are a few other teams that could make a run. There is a lot of uncertainty facing the ACC in 2020, but it feels like the Virginia Cavaliers are clearly the team to beat.
Since there was no NCAA Tournament in 2020, the Cavaliers are still the defending champions, and the 2020-21 version of this team could go on another run. Virginia will once again be the best defensive team in the country, and the addition of Sam Houser gives the Cavaliers a terrific scoring threat.
North Carolina and Duke will both challenge Virginia this season, but both teams will be trying to do it with youngsters. The Tar Heels won just 14 games a season ago, but don’t expect them to be down for long. Duke lost a ton of talent to the NBA Draft, but Coach K has once again reloaded the roster.
If any team is going to challenge for the title outside of those three teams, it will likely be either Louisville or Florida State. The Cardinals and Seminoles both lost a ton of talent as well, but these programs continue to produce winning teams.
Outside of the top-five, the rest of the conference feels average. There are some bad teams at the bottom of the league, and the middle of the pack is full of teams just trying to reach the NCAA Tournament.
NCAA Tournament Teams
The ACC was projected to land just five teams in the NCAA Tournament in 2020, but a few more should get in this season. These five teams are almost guaranteed to be a lock to reach the Big Dance this season:
- North Carolina
- Florida State
Outside of the top five teams, both Miami and Syracuse could also be in play for an NCAA Tournament berth in 2020. Both teams will have to be improved, but there is enough talent on each roster to receive an at-large bid.
Final Four Contenders
It feels like Duke, North Carolina, and Virginia could all be considered Final Four contenders almost every single year, and that will be the case this season as well. There are other teams throughout the country that have a better roster, but these three programs always seem to show up in the NCAA Tournament.
Of these three teams, Virginia has the best chance of cutting down the nets this season, and that’s because of their defense. Duke will once again have a very talented freshman class, but talent doesn’t always win games in March.
ACC Player of the Year Candidates
There have been some years when it was easy to predict which player would be named the ACC Player of the Year. That’s not necessarily the case heading into this season, but three players do stand out.
Garrison Brooks is the leading returning scorer in the ACC this season, and he will be asked to do a ton for his North Carlina team. Brooks feels like a future star in the NBA, but is back to prove himself at the collegiate level. The Tar Heels could be poised for a major bounce-back season, and it will be Brooks leading the way.
Duke has brought in a top-five recruiting class once again and Jalen Johnson is the top prize of that group. Johnson is an athletic forward that could take over a game in a variety of different ways. If Duke is able to win the conference title, it will be Johnson that carries the load.
Hauser will be playing in his first season in Virginia after an impressive career at Marquette. Hauser averaged 14.9 points and 7.2 rebounds per game in 2018-19, and he gives Virginia a terrific scoring threat.