The annual Operation ACC Basketball took place on Wednesday in Greensboro and as usual there was some good stuff. State's return is one theme, but attention somewhat surprisingly turned to tournament locations, as if it hadn't moved before.
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Not surprisingly, the Pack was picked first. We've said before we think it's too early and that State has a critical flaw without DeShawn Painter, but we could be wrong. Certainly wouldn't be the first time.
Duke was picked second, UNC third, defending champs FSU fourth and then Miami was picked fifth, Maryland sixth, Virginia seventh, Clemson eighth, Georgia Tech ninth, Virginia Tech tenth, Wake Forest eleventh and Boston College brings up the rear at twelve.
One could reasonably argue that the conference is bisected, with 1-6 being very tough and the bottom half not nearly as challenging.
But stop and consider: soon enough, Pitt, Syracuse and Notre Dame will descend upon us, and that makes 1-9 extremely tough. But consider what's happening around the ACC: Maryland is rebuilding at breakneck speed. Virginia is establishing a rugged program which will make life hard for all of us - and getting better players, albeit at a slower pace than the Terps.
Like Virginia, Clemson is getting down and dirty on D - we'll never forget Brad Brownell's first trip to Cameron and watching Duke's players bounce off of his like a steel marble in a very noisy pinball machine. Great stat to watch for the future: how teams play in the game after they play Clemson. We bet they're falling off, or at least that they will.
Georgia Tech has significant talent now and if Solomon Poole shows up in December, they're going to be a major challenge for everyone.
It could turn out that they're one of the significant surprises. Consider their possible frontline: Daniel Miller has become a solid if not spectacular big man, who clocks in at just under 7-0 and nearly 260. Robert Carter is a big rookie (and talented) at 6-8 and 245. They could go with Julian Royal (6-8, 243, andÂ name we appreciate), or Kammeon Holsey, or a wing.
Guardwise, they have Mfon Udofia, who has never quite hit his stride, Jason Morris, 6-5, Stacey Poole, 6-4 1/2, Marcus Georges-Hunt, 6-5, and Chris Bolden, 6-3.
Wake's talent, too, is improving, but very young: CJ Harris is a senior and Travis "Sky" McKie a junior, but that's about it for big experience. The rest are sophs (Chase Fischer, Daniel Green) and freshmen, of whom there are a pile: Andre Washington, Aaron Rountree III,Tyler Cavanaugh, Devin Thomas, Madison Jones, Arnaud Moto and most importantly, Codi Miller-McIntyre. He should free Harris up and should also help overcome some inexperience just because he's a solid point. He'll be able to get people the ball where they can use it.
Wake may struggle this season, but they do have some talent.
To us, the teams facing truly long seasons are BC and Virginia Tech. BC's huge sophomore class is still young and no more talented than they were last year, though they're surely more aware and in better condition.
This would be very helpful for KC Caudill, who is currently listed at 275 and that's clearly too heavy for him.
This team is not as talented as most ACC teams, but Steve Donahue proved at Cornell that he is capable of taking less talented teams and making them highly competitive.
As for Virginia Tech, this is a thin, smallish team. They do have a solid center and an outstanding point guard and at least one pretty fair forward, but with just eight players, February is likely to be challenging on the legs.Â An injury, almost any significant injury to any player,Â would, of course, be devastating.
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