To quote NC State great, Eddie Biedenbach, “What I’m about to tell you is the truth . . . or could be.”
By Mack McCarthy
It seems crazy to pick a team with four of its top seven players being freshman as the best team (see Duke) in the ACC. For better or worse, that’s college basketball today.
While we’re talking about the state of college basketball, let’s stop talking about “small ball”. Almost everybody will be playing three guards and some (see Virginia Tech and others) will play four. And still win! It’ll be the rare exception when anyone plays a traditional PG-SG-SF-PF-C lineup.
We’ll be ranking the top 8 (since that’s probably the number of teams that will get in the NCAA tournament, plus or minus one) in the ACC each week. Additionally, I’ll occasionally have some thoughts moving forward about the current issues in college basketball and some possible solutions to those.
1. DUKE. Three probably freshman starters doesn’t sound like a formula to success, but ... You’ll learn all about the names Bagley, Trent, and Duval quickly. Can Grayson Allen be a consistent leader? If yes, this bunch could be great. Like Pete Gillen said, “Duke is Duke.”
2. NOTRE DAME. Eighty-two wins in the last three seasons for Mike Brey is pretty stout. Even though the Irish have one of the more veteran groups in the league, this could be a little high based on talent alone. However, that experience might be worth a lot in a very young league.
3. NOTRE DAME WOMEN’S TEAM. Might not be where this belongs, but if you sweep four straight regular season and ACC tournaments you need to get mentioned. Muffet McGraw=extraordinary.
4. MIAMI. Another team with lots of veterans. Jim Larranaga has coached Miami to the best six year run in program history. They are primed to be very good again.
5.NORTH CAROLINA. The defending national champions lost a lot to graduation, but they are, as usual, deep and very talented. Now, if Roy Williams can just keep Joel Berry out of the arcade.
6.VIRGINIA TECH. Buzz Williams has done an exceptional job in a short time. The loss of Khadim Sy and Ty Outlaw hurts the depth that this team could have had, but the team has a nice mix of experience and talented newcomers. Gotta stay healthy. Freshman Nickeil Alexander-Walker will be a household name soon.
7. VIRGINIA. Despite numerous losses, Tony Bennett has UVA basketball built so solidly, they will still be a tournament team. London Perrantes being gone is cause for angst, but the Cavs are talented enough to be good again.
8. LOUISVILLE. Despite the unbelievable upheaval in Kentucky with the loss of a Hall of Fame coach, there are still really good players on this roster. I could’ve picked this team much higher, but there’s just so much unknown. The Cards could very well move up this list quickly.
*Florida State just missed this list along with GT and others who could certainly move into the top 8. Syracuse is usually in the mix, but the only Orangemen going to the tournament will be graduates of the broadcasting school.
About the Author: Mack McCarthy has spent over 40 years in Division I Athletics including 19 years as head basketball coach at Chattanooga, VCU, and East Carolina. Mack led his Chattanooga teams to the NCAA Tournament five times including a trip to the Sweet 16. Mack works as a TV Color Analyst for multiple networks covering the ACC, SEC, Conference USA, Big South, and Southern Conferences.