The Atlantic Coast Conference is one of the most cut-throat divisions in NCAA Basketball. While Duke is rebuilding it's squad, the Tar Heels bring back all 5 starters from last season. What should bettors expect from the ACC next season?
With the departure of the NBA Draft's number 1 pick Kyrie Irving, Iman Shumpert, Chris Singleton, Jordan Williams, and Reggie Jackson, the ACC is still left with a lot of returning talent and incoming freshman for an exciting 2011-2012 season.
Let's take a look at how the teams break down and where different players fit
into the respecitve teams after all is said and done.
North Carolina Tarheels
Amazingly, all 5 starters return for the North Carolina Tarheels this season and that makes
them the NCAA Basketball betting favorites to win the National title. They made it to the Elite
8 last year. Look for North Carolina to go further this year. They're led by 7
foot senior forward, Tyler Zeller. Last season, Zeller averaged 15.7 points,
7.2 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game. Zeller played very strong last year in
the NCAA tournament. He averaged 26 points and 8.7 rebounds. Zeller also shot
9 for 12 in a losing effort in an elite 8 defeat against the Kentucky Wildcats.
Sophomore forward Harrison Barnes also returns for the Heels. Barnes averaged
15.7 points and 5.8 rebounds per game last season. Barnes is a consistent
player that's capable of putting up big numbers. He had a 40 point performance
in where he shot 6 for 8 from 3 point range late in the season against Clemson.
Barnes averaged 21 points and 8.2 rebound in the big dance last season, showing
that he can perform in the big games.
"Mr. Double-Double" John Henson returns for his junior season. Henson
averaged 11.7 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 3.2 blocks per game. He adds a real inside
force for the Heels. Opposing players are reluctant to enter the paint when
they see number 31 there.
Guard Kendall Marshall had some good moments last season and is looking to
improve upon that in his sophomore campaign. He shot 37% from 3 point range
last season and averaged 6.2 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. Marshall
averaged nearly 10 assists per game in the NCAA Tournament last season. To me,
the NCAA Tournament is a good measuring stick for how clutch and reliable a player
North Carolina is a very deep team. There's nobody that can match them. Now
that Duke has lost Singler and Smith to the NBA, the Tarheels are in prime
position to win the elusive ACC Title and win the National Championship.
Currently, Bodog has them as a 3/1 favorite.
Duke Blue Devils
When you think North Carolina, you have to think of the Duke Blue Devils. Both teams go hand in
hand each year as they "duke" it out for the ACC Title and to earn
the status as the supreme team in the league. Although Duke has lost Kyle
Singler and Nolan Smith to graduation, they have talented youth on their team
and that's what they'll be counting on in the upcoming season. Reguardless, the Duke and Carolina rivalry will live on.
A lot of pressure could possibly be resting on the shoulders of a freshman.
Austin Rivers, who is the 2nd highest ranked recruit in ESPN's top 100, will be
playing in front of the Cameron Crazies. Rivers is the most prolific offensive
player in the 2011 freshman class. He's the winner of many prestigious awards
in high school. He averaged 28.8 points and 6.1 rebounds per game as a senior.
Expect an immediate impact on the offensive end from the son of the Boston
Celtics head coach and former Atlanta Hawks guard Doc Rivers.
The Blue Devils also add Michael Gbinije (6-6 SF) and 6-11 center
Marshall Plumlee. Duke really hit the jackpot with their 2011 freshman
Look for junior guard Seth Curry to step up into a leaders role on the team.
Last season, Curry averaged 9 points and 2 assists on 43.5% shooting from 3
point range. Curry had some bad moments in the NCAA Tournament but he came up
big in the ACC Tournament . Overall, Curry had 7 games during the season in
where he scored 15 points or more. He'll see the ball a lot more this season.
Junior guard Andre Dawkins will play a similar role to Curry this year. He
averaged 8.1 points per game last season, shooting 42.7% from beyond the
arc. When players come to Duke, they're taught the basic fundimentals of the
game and that's what they excel at.
Duke already has what many call the most difficult arena in the Nation, in Cameron Indoor Stadium. This year, Cameron Indoor will be filled with
Plumlees, as Duke will rely on the trio of brothers to help lead the team. Already on the squad are
junior Mason Plumlee and senior Miles Plumlee. Mason Plumlee provides some
protection on the boards. He averaged 7.2 points and 8.4 rebounds last season.
One weakness to his game is his free throw shooting, which is unusual for a
player at Duke. Plumlee averaged a pathetic 44.1% from the line. Look for
improvement. Coach K won't allow shooting like that to continue. Miles Plumlee
averaged 4.8 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. He'll add senior leadership for
what he lacks in talent.
Overall, Duke is a very talented team with a bright future. Much will be
depending on the impact that Austin Rivers will be able to deliver. They'll be
one of the top teams in college basketball but it will be tough for them to
compete against the experience of North Carolina. Duke is installed as an 8/1
shot to win the title.
Florida State Seminoles
The Seminoles lose their top two scorers in Chris Singleton and Derwin Kitchen
but basically the remainder of the team returns, some players that received a
great amount of playing time. Florida State has a very solid defense. This
defense was 1st in the nation in only allowing 36.3% shooting from the field
and 30.6% from 3 point range. In total, they allowed just 62 points per game.
Defense definitely isn't a question mark with this team.
This isn't a highly offensive powered team but they have many players with
experience and should improve from the previous season. Senior Bernard James
will need to continue to play a primary role on the glass and for the team.
James averaged 8.6 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks per game last season.
He really stepped his game up in the last 2 tournaments of the season. James
scored in double figures in 5 of those 6 games. He averaged 11.1 points and 7.1
rebounds in those games.
Husky guard Michael Snear had identical numbers in his freshman and sophomore
seasons. He averaged 8.8 points and 2.7 rebounds each season. He brought it
strong in the last 2 games of the year, averaging 12.5 points. Snear is a
fairly good 3 point shooter at almost 37%. Look for him to play a major role
for the Noles.
Sophomore guard Ian Miller didn't get much playing time last
season but did average 5.5 points per game in 14 minutes. Miller is a dead eye
foul shooter at 92.9%. He can also shoot from the outside, shooting 35.8% from
beyond the arc. I expect Miller to play well this season.
Florida State managed to recruit 3 of the top 100 recruits in Antwan Space,
Aaron Thomas, and Terry Whisnant. Space is more of a shooter while Thomas likes
to slash to the bucket. They should blend in nicely with the current team.
Defense will play a major role in how far Florida State goes. They're not an
explosive offensive team but they have capable players with a lot of depth and
experience. This team isn't in the class of North Carolina or Duke but should
go far. Florida State is 65/1 for any NCAA basketball bettors willing to take the risk.
Clemson loses it's top 2 scorers and their recruiting class was uninspiring.
Aside from those negatives, this is still one of the better teams in the ACC.
There was a lot of hype about Milton Jennings coming out of high school. In his
junior season, it's time for Jennings to live up to some of the hype. He
averages 8.3 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. He has the size and played well
during tournament time last season (except for Clemson's last game). Expect
Jennings to make some strides and be a bigger factor this season to make up for
the player losses.
Look for 5 foot 9 guard Andre Young to have a good offensive season. He'll have
more opportunities to put up numbers. Last season, Young averaged 11.1 points,
3 assists and 2.6 rebounds per game. He had some good performances against
teams like North Carolina and ended the season with a 22 point game.
Devin Booker (8.1 points, 5.5 rebounds) and Tanner Smith (7.8 points and 3.5
rebounds) round out the rest of the Tigers production. Team depth and the poor
recruiting will come back to bite them. This is a team that can go either way.
They should be on the cusp of making the NCAA Tournament but are no pushovers
by any means. If miracles happen and Clemson sees their "One Shining
Moment", you can throw a "C note" on them at the great price of
On The Edge (NIT Teams in 2010)
Virginia Tech Hokies
The Hokies lose their two top leading scorers and were unable to make the big
dance with them. It's difficult to believe that they'll be able to make it
without them but never say never. The 3rd and 4th leading scorers on their team
Erick Green (11.6 points, 2.7 assists, and 2.3 rebounds) and Dorenzo Hudson
(10.4 points, 3.1 rebounds--in 9 games) return . Hudson was out of action for
almost the entire season but did have a nice year in 2009-2010 when he averaged
15.2 points and 3.5 rebounds per game. Look for Hudson to return to his old
form. He actually started off last season very strong, averaging 15 points per
game in his first 4 games.
Virginia Tech had some solid recruiting, landing Dorian Finney-Smith.
Finney-Smith is ranked number 17 in ESPN's top 100 recruit list. They also
landed Robert Brown and C.J. Barksdale, both from Hargrave Military Academy
(FL). It will interesting to see what type of role that Finney-Smith plays this
I wouldn't write this team off but let's just keep them on our "to watch"
list. The Hokies can be wagered at Bodog at 100/1.
The Eagles say goodbye to Reggie Jackson as he was taken 24th in th NBA Draft
by the Oklahoma City Thunder. Boston College will sorely miss Jackson and his
18.2 points per game on 50% shooting from the field..
What I really don't understand is how the NCAA Basketball odds makers even have B.C. at 75/1.
They lose their top 5 scorers, and that's pretty hard to replace.
Where contention is concerned, there's no other teams worth mentiong although
an upset can happen on any given night in the Atlantic Coast Conference. A sub
.500 team can beat a team like Duke on any given night under the right
circumstances. That's what makes this conference and college basketball so
exciting to watch.
North Carolina is the favorite to win it all and appear to be the obvious
favorites here due to their experience. When the season starts, we'll see just
how good young Austin Rivers is and how far that he can take Duke. Enjoy the
season everyone. Root for your favorite teams and may all of your bets be