ACC bottom-feeders? Maybe not.

Published 10:32 am Monday, November 6, 2017

Back with more predictions on the upcoming 2017-18 Atlantic Coast Conference basketball season.

A couple of weeks ago I made my ACC basketball predictions, leaving you with a warning – not only how poorly I did a season ago, but also how none of the pre-season All-ACC picks made the first-team.

One of the bigger questions may be the sense that the league has lost some of its luster: It may not be hyped as much this season as it was last – but look what happened: only one of the nine ACC teams in the NCAA Tournament made it past the second round to the ‘Sweet-16’, but at least that squad (UNC) won it all.

There was also the fun of seeing how well so many of the one-and-done freshmen justified their lofty expectations. NC State may have had a season Pack fans don’t want to remember, but who could forget Dennis Smith’s performance against Duke. Look at how Jayson Tatum is delivering as an NBA player in Boston – but the flip-side of the pro hoops life has Harry Giles, Frank Jackson, and UNC’s Tony Bradley who’ve struggled.

But back to the college side and one thing is for certain, through all the haze of coming corruption revelations, transfers, locker-room killers – you name it – there’s the specter of how beginning in January and for multiple days in every week through to mid-March, we will see quite a showcase of great games between great conference teams featuring great talent.

My one-thru-seven are – in order – Duke, Virginia, Miami (if they escape the eye of the NCAA!), Carolina, Notre Dame, Louisville, and Florida State.

The ‘best of the rest’ starts with Georgia Tech, which could break through to the top-seven, even as high as sixth, or fifth tied with Notre Dame.

A couple of Big-Four powers – NC State and Wake Forest – follow at nine and ten.

New Wolfpack bench boss Kevin Keatts wowed the scribes at ‘Operation Basketball Media Day’ in Charlotte a couple of weeks ago, but ‘what’s it going to be at PNC’ as he tries to translate that enthusiasm to West Raleigh. Three transfers: Torin Dorn, Sam Hunt, and Al Freeman lead the Pack, which should be good offensively; defensively, I’m skeptical.

The key for Wake Forest is now that coach Danny Manning has shown he can recruit, and recruit size, can he help it mature fast enough. A shallow front-court, reduced in punch with John Collins – a ‘two-and-done’ – off to the NBA could be what makes the Deacs’ weak.

Addition by subtraction will help Boston College ‘limp’ up to 11th place. The other ten teams lost so much; the Eagles couldn’t help but move up. Plus, they return the leading scorer in the ACC in Jerome Robinson and his 18-plus points per game.

Buzz Williams deserves a lot of credit for doing a lot with so little at Virginia Tech, but losing a 6-9 frontcourt player in Khadim Sy right before the start of practice bumped them down to 12th, where they could be overtaken by….Syracuse, and, oh how the mighty have fallen. The one program I felt would benefit most from leaving the Big East for the ACC is still struggling. They’re young and can look forward to a brighter future, but getting younger doesn’t mean they got deeper. They didn’t.

The best thing helping Clemson is the school’s football success. Brad Brownell has recruited some big guys, wide-body big guys, and defense is the coach’s forte. But offense wins in this league.

Why is Pittsburgh last? Partly because there are 15 teams in this league and I had to put them somewhere; and partly because they lost 90 percent of their offense between graduation and transfers. It also didn’t get better when so many early commits bailed out on the program at the last minute.

No longer the “best conference ever”, you say? Well, for my money I think they’re still going to come pretty darn close.


Gene Motley is a Staff Writer at Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at or 252-332-7211.