By: Kenneth Harrison
TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services
The college basketball season begins this week.
Last season was very exciting because we expected Duke to win it all. Instead, Virginia bounced back from an epic collapse from the previous year and won their first national championship. Let’s take a look at the ranked ACC teams.
#4 Duke: The Blue Devils had one of the best recruiting classes of all-time last year led by Zion Williamson. Duke started the season ranked No. 1 and maintained that ranking for most of the year. They lost by one point in the Elite Eight to Michigan State.
The 2019 recruiting class features five recruits and the class is ranked third nationally.
Three of them are five-star players; center Vernon Carey, small forward Wendell Moore and power forward Matthew Hurt. The other two are both four-star recruits; shooting guards Cassius Stanley and Rejean Ellis.
They bring five top 40 prospects to Durham and point guard Tre Jones is returning for his sophomore season.
Duke opens the season against No. 3 Kansas at Madison Square Garden.
#5 Louisville: The Cardinals start the season with a conference game at Miami.
The football team is also playing the Hurricanes this week.
Junior forward Jordan Nwora was voted preseason ACC Player of the Year. He averaged 17 points and 8 rebounds per game last season.
Freshman guard Samuel Williamson is a four-star recruit and he should make an immediate contribution. I expect him to be second on the team in scoring. Senior forward Dwayne Sutton is also a key contributor.
This is the first time in the post Rick Pitino era that Louisville is a serious contender.
#9 North Carolina: The Tar Heels always expect to compete for a national title. The thing that surprises me is they don’t get the elite recruits that you would expect for a program of their caliber.
Their 2019 recruiting class was ranked ninth. That’s behind inferior programs like Memphis, Oregon, USC and Florida.
The recruiting class consists of four players and two of them are five-star recruits. Point guard Cole Anthony and center Armando Bacot are joining an experienced UNC team.
Last season ended in disappointment with a Sweet Sixteen blowout loss to Auburn.
They also begin the season with a conference opponent, Notre Dame. The first ranked team on the schedule is in game 6 versus No. 18 Ohio State. The second game after that is at No. 8 Gonzaga.
# 11 Virginia: Virginia has finished outside the nation’s top 10 once in the last six basketball seasons, and its 89-19 ACC record during that span is historically dominant.
The Cavaliers are replacing four starters, including their top three scorers.
“We know it’s going to be a big challenge,” senior forward Braxton Key said. “We know the X is going to be on our back every game, but we’re excited for it.”
The season opens against a tough Syracuse team.
Virginia is the ACC’s 15th men’s basketball national champion. It’s traditionally the best conference and I think that will be the case this year. I believe the team that wins the national championship this year will be from the ACC.