In response to Ben's excellent ACC primer--I think it would be a good/fun idea to have a nice little prediction thread where people can compete, in one convenient place, for the unmatched glory of being able to say, "I did a better job of picking the final standings of the ACC than you" to their fellow TT compatriots.
To help further break ties, if you fee like it, call the number of wins and post season tourny.
As for my entry, overall I see a weakened ACC that has really only 3-4 tournament teams, and a lot of parity among the 5-10 spots.
1. Duke (16 wins)--NCAA
This appears to be, despite my reservations about the overall talent level on the team, a vintage Duke year. As long as Plumlee continues to be an elite force inside, they have too much offensive firepower for most teams to hang with.
As an aside: I know that Ben is bullish about the prospects of a Maryland upset over Duke, and I hope he's right. He's usually right, and I'm usually wrong. That being said, I think his analysis leaves out (1) the rebounding advantage we might enjoy due to our superior size at the 3 and the 4, will be augmented by a difficulty in guarding those respective players on the perimeter and (2) Duke has the ability to tinker with their line up and go even smaller, putting Hairston at the 4, which would force us into some potentially uncomfortable line ups.
2. NC State (14 wins)--NCAA
This is probably the most talented line up on paper in the entire conference. You have the best PG in Brown, and the best PF in Leslie, along with some elite, 5 star talent on the wings, an elite three point sharp shooter, and a workhorse down low. For some reason they've had difficulty putting it together (this may have to do with the fact that Leslie has difficulty putting it together night in and night out). Even still, in a weak ACC their talent should get them to 13-14 wins.
3. UNC (13 wins)--NCAA
They've struggled early, and rebounded nicely with a win over UNLV. For now I'll assume this has righted the ship to the point where, in a weakened ACC they can win 12-13 games (at least). I have my reservations about this team, and think it could implode on ole' Roy. That being said, it's hard to imagine this team losing to Virginia, Clemson and the like all that much and so I think a 13-5 mark is right where I'd peg them.
4. Maryland (12 wins)-NCAA
I think Maryland could easily compete for the number 2 spot under Duke. The key is going to be consistency with a young team. They will most likely remain inconsistent on offense with a amorphous rotation, no complete perimeter player, and a lack of perimeter shooting. The hope is that they can bring the D and rebounding at the elite levels they have flashed night in and night out. If they do that, 11-12 wins is their floor which puts them in bubble mix. If they can settle into some defined roles, find someone besides Allen and Logan who can hit a three with any consistency, and get more inspired and aggressive offensive play from Alex Len, a 2nd place finish with 14-15ish wins is not out of the realm of possibility.
5. Miami (10 wins)--NIT
Like Maryland, I think this team has a high ceiling. Unlike Maryland, their season has gotten off to a really shaky start dropping some questionable games (injury woes aside you should beat Florida Gulf Coast). I believe in their talent at the end of the day, and I think they should win 10 games baring any further injury bugaboos but I expect that this team will not make the tournament and will have some head scratching losses to teams like Clemson and Virginia Tech along the way.
6.Georgia Tech (9 wins)--NIT
They have elite, if green, talent inside. They have the experience of Udofia (who somehow is still playing college basketball) and I've always like Holsey's game. In a weak ACC, I see this team playing at least .500 ball. Thus, I think 9 wins is likely given how low I am on everyone beneath them. Ultimately their interior is too young, and not quite elite enough for them to make a serious tournament run and get to the 12-13 win mark.
7. Virginia (8 wins)--NIT
Ben is right to point out that this team is inconsistent (to say the least). I think that such staggering inconsistent out of conference play poses some big red flags for the long grind that is conference play. Wins over wisconsin and tenn indicate that Virginia can hang with teams that don't score lights out on you, but the ACC is filled with firepower, and I think Virginia's fatal flaw this season will be a lack of points---I like them better than the seriously flawed teams below, because at least they have shown an ability to win when the game is played at their pace, but I see just as many nights where they can't quite keep up with the higher powered teams in the conference and end up losing by 10-15. I think an 8-8 finish give or take is likely.
8. Florida State (8 wins)--NIT
They can't score. They turn the ball over at a ridiculous rate, and their D is not nearly as solid as it was last year. Minnesota exposed them. Like Virginia, they will win some defensive struggles, but like Virginia, they will struggle to score. The reason I have them slightly below Virginia is because they also turn the ball over at a high rate which is another ding on them. If they can fix the TO issues and find some more offense I do think the athleticism is there for a higher finish, in the 4-6 range. But right now I'm not feeling them.
9. Virginia Tech (6 wins)--CBI
Virginia tech is the Maryland of last year. They might hold their own early, but we all know how it turns out when you have one guy you rely on that much to score the ball game in and game out. This year will be like watching VTech slowly sink into quicksand unless some other player emerges (which at this point seems unlikely).
10. Clemson (6 wins)
This year will be a train-wreck for Clemson. I do not like Milton Jennings; attitude, and the younger booker is a shell of what his brother brought to the table. Everything else on this team is below average for the ACC.
11. Wake (2 wins)
Too young, not enough talent.
12. BC (0 wins)
Really bad. I'm calling a donut.