(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

ACC Basketball Early 2019-20 Predictions

By Jack Williams

Louisville is looking good this year. Coach Mack did a wonderful job last season with this team with what he had in 2018-2019. Louisville finished in 7th place in the ACC and in the first round of the NCAA tournament. They’ve exceeded everyone’s expectations. But Coach Mack has a very good roster this season. This team has the opportunity to go very far in the NCAA Tournament in 2020.

North Carolina has rebuilt their roster and should do fine in the ACC. Can North Carolina state finally live up to expectations? This team finished in the quarter finals of the NIT last season. Can they get into the NCAA tournament in 2020? Will Coach Tony Bennet work his magic again this season and lead his Virginia team back to the top of the ACC? We should find out.

With that said, here is how we rank the ACC for the 2019-2020 season:

1. Louisville Cardinals

This Louisville team is deep! On paper, this is one of the best basketball rosters in college basketball. Louisville is getting back three (3) starters from a team that finished in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Dwayne Sutton and Jordan Nwora were the team's top scorers in 2018-2019. They will also get back Steven Enoch, who played in 34 games and started in 14 last season; Darius Perry, who played in 33 games and started in 11; and Ryan McMahon, who played in 34 games. Each of these players attributed more than 5 points per game last season. On top of that, Louisville will be adding the nation's 11th best recruiting class, which includes graduate transfer Lamar Kimble from St. Joseph's. He was St. Joseph's best scorer in his final season there. They will also add top 25 freshman Samuell Williamson, who can score in bunches and can defend. This Louisville team has a chance to go all the way in the NCAA tournament.

Projected Starting five (5):

Lamarr Kimble PG (St. Joseph's)

Samuell Williamson SG #18

Dwayne Sutton SG

Jordan Nwora SF

Malik Williams C

2. North Carolina Tar heels

Several North Carolina players from the 2018-2019 season have been lost to either graduation or to the pros. But it doesn't matter because North Carolina has added the 2nd best recruiting class in the ACC and the 8th best recruiting class in the nation according to 247sports.com. Top 10 recruit Cole Anthony is a quick point guard who could see the floor and is explosive going to the rim. He is also a great defender. He'll be playing alongside Armando Bacot, a big man who can protect the rim. Expect this team to be much better defensively than the 2018-2019 team.

Projected Starting 5:

Cole Anthony PG #4

Justin Pierce SG (W&M)

Christian Keeling SG (Char Southern)

Garrison Brooks PF

Armando Bacot PF #17

3. Duke Blue Devils

Like Kentucky, Duke reloads by adding some of the top freshmen recruits in the country. Last season, Duke had one of the best high school recruiting classes in the history of divsion1 college basketball. This year comes very close. Duke will bring in the 4th best recruiting class in the nation and the #1 recruiting class in the ACC.  Top 10 recruit in the nation, Vernon Carey Jr. is a beast. He could run the floor as a big man, He could shoot and he is a very good rim protector. Top 10 recruit Matthew Hurt is also a big man that could do all of these things. This kid will also shoot your lights out. Top 25 freshman Wendell Moore likes to bullie his way to the rim. Point guard Tre Jones is going to be returning for his sophamore year. Expect this Duke team to stay competetive in the ACC.

Projected Staring 5:

Tre Jones PG

Cassius Stanley SG #39

Matthew Hurt SF #9

Jack White SF

Vernon Carey, PF Jr. #5

4. NC State Wolfpack

With several key players returning, which includes two (2) out the top three (3) scorers from the 2018-2019 season, Markell Johnson and C.J. Bryce, this team will remain a viable offensive threat in the ACC. Averaging 80.1 points per game, N.C. State had the 29th best scoring offense in the nation and the 3rd best in the ACC. If N.C. State could find a way to play better defense, they could very well compete for the top of the ACC.

Projected Starting 5:

Markell Johnson PG

C.J. Bryce SG

Braxton Beverly SG

Pat Andree PF (Lehigh)

DJ Funderburk PF

5. Virginia Cavaliers

This NCAA Championship team has lost a lot of key players in 2019 to either the Pros or to graduation. De'Andre Hunter, Kyle Guy, and Ty Jerome all went pro. All three players were the top point producers for the team. But this is a defensive minded team and coach Toney Bennet seems to get this team to the top of the ACC despite the fact that they don't have players who could score in bunches. A team that could hold an opponent to 56.6 points per game on average doesn't need a bunch of players who could score. Expect Virginia to compete for the top of the ACC as usual.

Projected Starting 5:

Kihei Clark PG

Tomas Woldetensae SG (Indian Hills)

Braxton Key SF

Kadin Shedrick PF

Mamadi Diakite PF

6. Florida State Seminoles

Florida State will get back two (2) starters from their 2019 sweet sixteen team. Mfiondu Kabengele and Terance Mann are gone. But fortunately Florida State will reload with top 25 star Patrick Williams. He's an all-American who can defend and shoot very well. This team is strong enough from top to bottom to make a push deep into the NCAA Tournament in 2020.

Projected Starting 5:

Trent Forrest SG

M.J. Walker SG

Patrick Williams SF #20

Malik Osborne PF

Dominik Olejniczak C (Ole Miss)

7. Boston College Eagles

Wynston Tabbs should be back and healthier in 2019-20. Tabbs should be joined by three other frequent starters from the 2018-2019 season in Nik Popovic, Jared Hamilton, and Steffon Mitchell. However, let's hope that this team finds a way to put more points on the boards and play better defense and hopefully with USC's graduate transfer Derryck Thornton on board this team could move the ball much better, which should improve scoring in the end.

Projected Starting 5:

Derryck Thornton  PG (USC)

Wynston Tabbs SG

Jared Hamilton SF

Steffon Mitchell SF

Nik Popovic PF

8. Miami Hurricanes

Top 50 freshman Harlond Beverly should be fun to watch. He a scoring machine and Miami is going to need his scoring abilities. They are also going to need the skills of top 100 point guard Isaiah Wong, who is not shy of going to the basket and making buckets. Miami is a team that had major problems moving and scoring the ball last season. The one problem that I see with this team is that Miami has a pretty good point and shooting guard returning from the previous season. However, Miami needs help in the front court.

Projected Starting 5:

Chris Lykes PG

Dejan Vasiljevic SG

Kameron McGusty (Oklahoma) SG

Sam Waardenburg PF

Rodney Miller Jr. C

9. Pittsburgh Panthers

Pittsburg will get back four (4) frequent starters from the 2018-2019 season in Xavier Johnson, Trey McGowens, Au'Diese Toney, and Kene Chukwuka. With the four (4) on the roster this team should remain pretty good defensively. Pittsburg held their opponents to an average of 68.7 point per game last season. Not bad. But in order for this team to remain somewhere in the middle of the ACC they’re going to need to put a few more points on the boards. Pittsburg was ranked only 10th in the ACC in offensive scoring last season, averaging only 69.9 points per game. With chemistry improving, this team should do well in 2019-20.

Projected Starting 5:

Xavier Johnson PG

Trey McGowens PG

Au'Diese Toney SG

Kene Chukwuka PF

Eric Hamilton PF (UNCG)

10.  Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Georgia Tech is also a team with several key players returning. But what good is it going to do to have several players who had problems scoring to return. Georgia Tach ranked 326th in the nation and 15th in the ACC in scoring last season. Georgia Tech had a negative 1.2 scoring margin. They were stopping the ball but couldn’t capitalize on it. With chemistry improving this coming season this team should do much better than the previous season.

Projected Starting 5:

Jose Alvarado PG

Michael Devoe SG

Khalid Moore SF

Moses Wright PF

James Banks III PF

11. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

This Notre Dame team was very young last season and was bitten by the injury bug. As a result, Notre Dame finished in last place in the ACC for the first time in several years. As they say, the good thing about freshmen is that they will one day become sophomores. However, this team should be led by three senior players TJ Gibbs, John Mooney, and grad student Rex Pflueger . Let's just hope that Notre Dame can find a way to put more points on the boards. Notre Dame had a negative 0.3 scoring margin last season. Getting to the top of the ACC may still remain an uphill battle for this team.

Projected Starting 5:

TJ Gibbs PG

Prentiss Hubb SG

Rex Pflueger SG

Nate Laszewski SF

John Mooney PF

12. Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Wake Forest will return two (2) out their top three (3) scorers from the 2018-2019 team in Brandon Childress and Chaundee Brown. However, Wake Forest had one of the worst scoring offenses in the ACC last season. They were also were also one of the worst ball moving teams in the nation. Judging from this roster, nothing much changes for this team. If Wake Forest finishes at the bottom of the ACC in 2019-2020 Coach Danny Manning may find himself on the hot seat watch list in 2020.

Projected Starting 5:

Brandon Childress PG

Chaundee Brown SG

Sharone Wright Jr. SF

Isaiah Mucius SF

Olivier Sarr C

13. Clemson Tigers

Clemson has lost its top three scorers to graduation. The question I have for this team is, is there anyone on this team who could take over the game when it’s on the line? There is not one payer on this roster who has averaged double digits in scoring. Even with Alabama's transfer Tevin Mack and Tulsa's transfer Curran Scott the road to the top of the ACC is an uphill battle.

Projected Starting 5:

Al-Amir Dawes PG

Curran Scott SG (Tulsa)

Chase Hunter SG #105

Tevin Mack SG (Alabama)

Aamir Simms PF

14. Virginia Tech Hokies

This is a team with way too many new faces. Virginia Tech has a new coach in Mike Young, who is a very good coach by the way. He was a 4× SoCon Coach of the Year (2010, 2014, 2015, 2019) while coaching at Wofford. He had just recently led Wofford to the NCAA tournament before his departure to Virginia Tech. However, he won't have the personnel to push his way to the top of the ACC. Virginia Tech will have several starters missing from the 2018-2019 season - and on top of that they are a small team. The good news is that point guard Wabissa Bede, shooting guard Isaiah Wilkins and P.J. Horne will be returning. Each of these players contributed great minutes to the team and had started in at least one game in 2018-2019. The road to the top of the ACC may be an uphill battle for this team.

Projected Starting 5:

Jalen Cone PG #79

Wabissa Bede PG

Isaiah Wilkins SG

Branden Johnson PF (Alambama State)

P.J. Horne PF

15.  Syracuse Orange

With so many starters gone from the roster, Syracuse is going to have to rely on several support players form the 2018-2019 season to step up and play bigger roles. That includes Jalen Carey, Buddy Boeheim, Marek Doleza, and Bourama Sidibe. With increased minutes for each of these players Syracuse should remain competitive in the ACC.Projected Starting 5:

Jalen Carey PG

Elijah Hughes SG

Buddy Boeheim SG

Marek Dolezaj SF

Bourama Sidibe PF

Podcast: ACC Basketball Early 2019-20 Predictions -Episode 31

Share by: