ACC Men’s Basketball Season Preview (2020-21)
We’re just days away from the college basketball season getting underway. Our team of NCAAB enthusiasts is breaking down every major conference to get you ready for the action.
First up is the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Take a peek at the ACC odds before delving into the rest of my season preview.
ACC Basketball Tournament Odds
It appears that the ACC tournament is going to be a three-horse race in March. North Carolina is on the cusp, but I’m pumping my brakes on trusting Roy Williams. Remember, the Tar Heels posted a 6-14 record in ACC play a season ago – tied with Pittsburgh and Wake Forest for the worst mark in the conference.
The fact of the matter is the days of this conference being bulletproof from top-to-bottom are gone. Yes, there are some powerhouse teams at the top, but there are some pretty scrappy schools bringing up the rear.
A Look at the Top Contenders in the ACC
Let’s see what to make of the top three contenders in this conference.
Perhaps not the flashiest team in the ACC, but you won’t find a group that is more disciplined and well-coached. Tony Bennett has the luxury of returning five guys who were integral parts of last year’s rotation – a lineup that generated the best defense in the country.
Marquette transfer Sam Hauser is a sharpshooting small forward who could very end up as the missing link on offense.
Duke Blue Devils
It’s like clockwork in Durham. Every year Mike Krzyzewski waves goodbye to sensational freshmen. Fortunately, every year Coach K is able to replenish his program with a handful of diaper dandies.
This season will be no different thanks to securing a four-pack of five-star recruits. 6’8” swingman Jalen Johnson figures to be the best of the bunch, although seven-footer Mark Williams has loads of potential.
Florida State Seminoles
After losing two underclassmen to the draft and graduating their senior leader, it would be natural if FSU took a step back in 2021. However, the arrival of Scottie Barnes is enough to carry the Seminoles to another fruitful year.
Who Could Surprise in the Atlantic Coast Conference?
As miserable as it was last season in Chapel Hill, North Carolina has enough firepower on their roster to turn this thing around 180 degrees. Caleb Love is on track to be the next great Tar Heels point guard, and Coach Williams inked two massive bodies to clog up the post.
Walker Kessler (7’0,” 245 pounds) and Day’Ron Sharpe (6’10,” 246 pounds) propel UNC to toting the #2-ranked recruiting class in the nation.
Top ACC Players to Watch
This year is no different than any in the past – the ACC is littered with talent. Let’s take a look at who the best players in the ACC are heading into the season.
Garrison Brooks – North Carolina
A rising senior who went from obscurity as a sophomore to a Second-Team All-ACC player as a junior. The 6’10” power forward might not average 20/10 this season, but he could come awfully close.
North Carolina's Garrison Brooks has been named ACC Preseason Player of the Year, per release.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) November 11, 2020
Sam Hauser – Virginia
Virginia was in desperate need of instant offense. The Hoos get that this year in the form of a versatile small forward named Sam Hauser. The Wisconsin native poured in 14.9 points and 7.2 rebounds (per game) last season for the Golden Eagles, and he’s not just a good outside shooter.
Clocking in at 44.5% from beyond the arc during his three years at Marquette, Hauser is an elite outside shooter.
Jalen Johnson – Duke
Most true freshmen need time to adapt to the next level. Duke’s Jalen Johnson fits the bill of a guy who needs no time at all.
This do-it-all point forward is going to be a beast for the Blue Devils. The fans better enjoy him while they can because Johnson has “one-and-done” written all over him.
More NCAAB Conference Previews
I’ll wrap this ACC basketball preview up by giving you a prediction.
I think Virginia is going to win the ACC Tournament and make a lot of noise in March Madness. A defense that good getting injected with a big-time scorer is the perfect recipe for success.
For more college basketball conference previews, check our NCAAB blog in the coming days.