ACC Top Five Preseason Rankings

  1. Duke 
Mike Krzyzewski

The talk will be about Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s final season. The coach is Duke basketball, and the five titles all came under Coach K. Entering this season, Duke has a loaded team with the arrival of three top 20 prospects. Paolo Banchero is a big man locked to be a top 5 NBA draft pick. He is more defined and polished than any other freshman in the country. The 7-footer Mark Williams, who shot 66.4% last year, is poised to break out as a sophomore. Even with a rocky season, Duke finished 49th in field goal percentage and 40th in assist to turnover. 

2. Florida State 

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-West Regional-Michigan vs Florida State
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

The Seminoles, who posted an 18-7 record last year, look to continue their success. The Seminoles lose four of their top five players. The priority for the Seminoles will be who will lead the team as the point guard. Caleb Mills has never been a facilitator but has the potential to be an explosive scorer (13.2 ppg 36.5% 3pt.) At Houston in 2019-2020, he scored 17 or more points 14 times. Top 30 recruit Jalen Warley has more potential as a distributor and can control the game tempo. The team will still have Anthony Polite. Polite (10.1 ppg., 4.5 RPG.,1.4 SPG.) is another great decision-maker and shot the ball well last season. At 6-6, the lockdown defender can guard multiple positions. 

3. North Carolina 

Hubert Davis, the new head coach of UNC men’s basketball, speaks at a press conference on Tuesday, April 6, 2021. “North Carolina is the standard. There's nobody that has family, nobody that's an example of togetherness and family than here at North Carolina,“ said Davis.

The first year of the Hubert Davis era is close to getting underway. Roy Williams helped bring in two four-star recruits and a few notable transfers. Last year the freshmen guards struggled. The Tar heels relied on their big men. They were so dominant the Tar Heels were still able to manage an NCAA bid. This year the guard play should be better. Caleb Love (10.5 ppg 3.6 APG) struggled with his shot, but the five-star returns after a late-season surge showed all his talents. If the Tar Heels seek to continue to be one of the better rebounding teams in the ACC, big men Justin McCoy and Dontrez Styles will need to be a part of it.

4. Virginia 

Tony Bennett, Dean and Markel Families Men’s Basketball Head Coach, said he was “blessed beyond what I deserve,” declined a raise and made a gift to a career development program for his players.

A recent national champion, Virginia, had a shockingly low finish in recruiting this year. UVA finished 12th out of 15 teams in the ACC recruiting cycle this year. Virginia was one of the most efficient offensive teams in the country last season. With the departures of Hauser, Huff, and Murphy, the question now is where are the points going to come. The loss of Murphy depletes the wing depth; the staff is banking on contributions from Indiana transfer Armaan Franklin and returning Kody Stattmann. Kihei Clark (9.5 PPG 4.5 APG.) provides quality ball pressure. He has a high basketball IQ and doesn’t miss opportunities to score when they present themselves. 

5. Louisville  

Alton Strupp/ Courier Journal

Bringing in the third-best recruiting class in the ACC, Louisville looks to build on a 13-7 record from a year ago. Top 80 recruit Mike James was lost to a preseason injury. Conference transfers can be very hit and miss, but Mack hit big with Carlik Jones at point guard a year ago. He looks to do the same with Marshall transferring Jarrod West this season. West can control the rhythm of a game (12.5 ppg., 6.0 APG., 2.5 SPG., 40.8% 3pt.) and provides superior defense and finished 11th in the nation with steals. Another transfer, Noah Locke, is a former top 70 recruit that shot the ball well for Florida last season (10.6 ppg., 40.4% 3pt.). Chris Mack has a team with more depth and talent than it had last season.

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