The ACC has consistently been the best conference in college basketball over the last two decades. Since 2000, the ACC has produced 10 national champions, and six different schools have won those titles. There are four ACC schools ranked in the top 11 in both the AP Poll and Coaches Poll to start this season, and this conference has a good chance of producing the eventual national champion once again this year.
Duke Blue Devils
Odds to Win ACC +280
Odds to Win National Championship +951
Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett, Cam Reddish, and Marques Bolden have all left Durham, but the Blue Devils remain the preseason favorite to win the conference per the preseason ACC betting odds. Mike Krzyzewski has replaced those talented players with another fantastic foursome of freshmen, and their development is pivotal to Duke’s chances this season.
Center Vernon Carey and power forward Matthew Hurt are the two most important freshmen. Both players were five-star prospects and rated in the top 12 of this past year’s class. Duke doesn’t have the depth up front we’re accustomed to seeing, so Carey and Hurt are both expected to immediately start.
Hurt should immensely help Duke in an area where it really struggled last year. The Blue Devils only hit 30.8 percent of their threes (last in the ACC), but Hurt is a stretch four that shoot the triple.
Tre Jones is the veteran of the group as a sophomore, and he will be the team’s leader in the early going. He is an incredible defender whose presence was missed when he was out last year, and his health is critical to Duke’s success this season.
Odds to Win ACC +295
Odds to Win National Championship +1276
Jordan Nwora is one of the top players in the country. He is one of the frontrunners to be named the best player in college basketball per the Naismith Award betting odds, and the junior put off the NBA for another season to return to Louisville. Nwora was fantastic from the perimeter last season, hitting 37.4 percent of his triples, and he came on strong as the season progressed.
Nwora is the leader of a Louisville team that many are expecting to make the leap in Chris Mack’s second season. The Cardinals brought in graduate transfer Lamarr Kimble from Saint Joseph’s to run the point, and Kimble brings a ton of experience to the Cardinals.
Dwayne Sutton is the only other Louisville player aside from Nwora that averaged double-digit points last season. Sutton is a potential double-double threat in every game despite being 6’5, and he plays much bigger than his frame.
North Carolina Tar Heels
Odds to Win ACC +390
Odds to Win National Championship +1252
The core of last year’s team has departed Chapel Hill. Six of last year’s top seven Tar Heels are no longer with Roy Williams and UNC, so there are a lot of questions entering this season.
Garrison Brooks is the only returning starter that saw a significant amount of action last season. Brooks played well in hitting 57.4 percent of his field goals in 23 MPG, but a lot more will be asked of him this year. He is a fantastic interior defender, yet he has not been much of an offensive threat, so some of the newcomers will need to handle the scoring burden.
Point guard Cole Anthony is expected to fill that role. Anthony was a Preseason All-American, and the son of UNLV standout Greg Anthony knows what it takes to succeed. He is a fantastic distributor that can get his teammates in great position to score, and some mock drafts have Anthony being the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.
Odds to Win ACC +390
Odds to Win National Championship +1802
Tony Bennett erased an unfair reputation in one fell swoop. Just as Jay Wright did a few years ago, Bennett proved everyone that claimed he was a choke artist in the postseason wrong when Virginia marched to the national title last season. The Wahoos lost their three best players this offseason though, and unlike other teams, Virginia can’t just reload with talented young freshmen due to Bennett’s intense Pack Line defense.
Mamadi Diakite is the top returning starter on UVA. Diakite is an excellent defensive player who blocked a shot in 20 straight games last year and averaged more than two blocks per game in conference play. He should be the ACC’s best interior defender this season, but his poor three-point shooting percentage (29.4 percent) keeps him from being a real offensive weapon.
There will be a lot of pressure on Kihei Clark to help the offense. Clark was a subpar shooter last season (35 percent), but he played 26.8 MPG due to his intense defense. If he doesn’t take a step forward on the other side of the court, UVA games could be even more difficult to watch than we’ve seen in recent years.
Florida State Seminoles
Odds to Win ACC +1300
Odds to Win National Championship +5500
The Seminoles don’t have the quality size on the interior that we have seen in previous seasons. Over the last decade, Leonard Hamilton has prioritized seven-footers on the inside, but this year’s FSU is bereft of experienced big men. The tallest players on the roster are very inexperienced, so the backcourt will be leading this team for once.
Trent Forrest is the one to watch. Forrest will have the ball in his hands more than any other Seminole, and he is a burly point guard that likes to use his body to outmuscle smaller perimeter defenders. Freshman Patrick Williams is a five-star prospect that has the versatility to thrive in Hamilton’s perennially offensively challenged Seminoles.
North Carolina State Wolfpack
Odds to Win ACC +2500
Odds to Win National Championship +16000
NC State was wrongly held out of the NCAA Tournament last year despite going 24-12 and 9-9 in conference play. The Wolfpack took measures to ensure that wouldn’t happen again by making a significantly tougher non-conference schedule than the one that was dead last in the nation last year.
Markell Johnson flirted with the idea of going pro at the end of last season, but he decided to return to Raleigh to bring the Wolfpack back to the NCAA Tournament provided they aren’t banned. Ohio State transfer D.J. Funderburk can punish defenses with his athleticism, and these two make NC State one of the dark horses in the conference.
Odds to Win ACC +3300
Odds to Win National Championship +10000
I don’t understand why Syracuse is placed in the middle of the pack in the ACC. It feels like this could be a season where everything comes crashing down on the Orange. Four starters are gone from last year’s team, Jim Boeheim brought in five freshmen for the first time in 13 years, and Buddy Boeheim is expected to be prominently involved.
Using a lot of young players in the 2-3 zone is sure to be somewhat problematic, and although this team has talent, there are going to be a lot of growing pains. Elijah Hughes should be the team’s top scorer, yet there are so many questions that it’s hard to really like Syracuse’s chances.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Odds to Win ACC +4000
Odds to Win National Championship +30000
The Fighting Irish were the worst team in the ACC last year. Captain Rex Pflueger suffered a season-ending injury one month into the season, and Notre Dame’s chances were toast from that point forward. This team finished the season 14-19, but Pflueger’s return gives the Irish a chance of returning to the NCAA Tournament provided he stays healthy.
John Mooney is the latest power forward to emerge as a force for Notre Dame, but the real reason to be bullish on this team is Mike Brey. Brey is the best coach in school history, and he has never had a season as bad as what we saw last year. The Irish will be much more competitive than we saw in 2018-19.
Virginia Tech Hokies
Odds to Win ACC +4000
Odds to Win National Championship +50000
Losing Buzz Williams to Texas A&M and Kerry Blackshear Jr. to Florida makes Virginia Tech significantly weaker than when the Hokies went 27-9 last season. Former Wofford coach Mike Young was hired to replace Williams, and he has his work cut out for him.
Young is building this team from scratch and took on a lot of freshmen and graduate transfers this season. He is putting his faith in Landers Nolley II after Nolley sat out as a freshman last season, since the leading returning scorer is Isaiah Wilkins. Wilkins scored just 4.7 PPG, so there are plenty of questions regarding production.
Miami (FL) Hurricanes
Odds to Win ACC +5500
Odds to Win National Championship +80000
This is a thin roster, but if everything goes right, Jim Larranaga might have Miami back in the NCAA Tournament. Chris Lykes is one of the most exciting players to watch in the country, and whenever you watch the Hurricanes, your eyes are drawn to him.
Lykes is just 5’7, but he makes a big impact on the court. He led the Hurricanes in scoring with 16.2 PPG, yet he turned the ball over a whopping 93 times as well. Lykes must do better in that area as he is already a defensive liability.
Odds to Win ACC +5500
It’s been a tumultuous offseason for Clemson. Clyde Trapp and Jonathan Baehre both suffered season-ending knee injuries in the offseason, and the Tigers have spent almost all summer waiting on the NCAA to declare whether transfers Khavon Moore and Nick Honor are eligible to play.
Moore was declared eligible last week, but there is still no word on the status of Honor. Honor was one of the top guards on Fordham last year, and he would give Clemson someone that can hit threes in the back court. Moore is an imposing talent that can play guard or forward with his frame.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Odds to Win ACC +6500
Josh Pastner has yet to take Georgia Tech to the NCAA Tournament. This is a make or break season for the former Memphis coach, as the Yellow Jackets have their most veteran roster yet, and anything other than an NCAA Tournament appearance will likely lead to Pastner’s exit.
Despite missing the mark with Shembari Phillips last year, Pastner is staking his hopes on another transfer this year. Bubba Parham was the leading scorer in the Southern Conference last season, averaging 21.4 PPG on 39.7 percent three-point shooting, and that’s an area where Georgia Tech really struggled.
Odds to Win ACC +6500
Things are getting better at Pittsburgh. John Capel spent his first season cleaning up the mess that Kevin Stallings left behind, and the Panthers showed signs of improvement as the season wore on.
Xavier Johnson and Trey McGowens are young, talented backcourt players that will be the key pieces for Pitt for the foreseeable future. The frontcourt has some questions to answer, and Capel is hoping that freshman Karim Coulibaly can become the power forward the Panthers desperately need.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Odds to Win ACC +7500
Danny Manning’s massive contract makes it hard for the Demon Deacons to move on from the coach even though they have clearly declined. However, if Manning is going to turn things around it will happen this season with six of the top seven scorers from last year’s squad coming back to Winston-Salem to bolster a nice recruiting class.
Brandon Childress is the top returning Demon Deacon. He led the team in scoring and assists last year, and he was one of the better shooters from downtown on Wake Forest. The backcourt is the strength of this team, so expect some more tempo out of the Demon Deacons this year.
Boston College Eagles
Odds to Win ACC +10000
It’s been a decade since Boston College made it to the NCAA Tournament. The Eagles haven’t finished with a winning record in ACC play since the 2010-11, but Jim Christian is surprisingly back despite going 18-72 in conference games since taking over in Chestnut Hill.
Wynston Tabbs was lost for the season after it was discovered that his recently operated upon knee had not healed properly, and that loss hurts tremendously. Boston College will rely on a frontcourt that has size, with Nik Popovic the one to watch at center.