The Atlantic Coast Conference is usually thought to be one of the best, if not the best conference in college basketball. Going into the season it was expected to be dominated by some usual names like Duke and UNC with recent success stories like UVA and Louisville falling right behind. But so far, that has not been the case.
Although UNC currently sits atop the ACC at 5-1, it’s joined by Florida State and Notre Dame. UVA sits currently in 4th and is ahead of Louisville by half a game. Duke, who came into the season ranked #1 because of its stacked recruiting class and the return of Wooden Award candidates Luke Kennard and Grayson Allen, currently sits at tied for 9th at 2-3.
The ACC is deep, and I mean 15 teams deep. Will all of them make the NCAA tournament? Not a chance, but every single game all bets are off and any team can come away with a victory. The bottom half of the ACC contains Clemson, Pittsburgh, NC State, and Boston College. Each team has already shown to be a tough opponent to those at the top and have some of the bright stars in the ACC. In fact, 5 of the ACC’s top 6 scorers belong to one of these 4 teams. In order to survive this gauntlet of a conference and come out on top, you have to bring it every night and be sharp.
If I had to predict a winner of the conference this year, I’d bet on UNC. Although they had an early season loss to Georgia Tech, they have played some dominate basketball and have had the game of the year with the instant classic against Kentucky, a 103-100 loss. Duke has had many issues with injury, including the coach. These issues make it hard for the team to find its identity and find a consistent playing style. 2 more losses this season could kill Duke’s chances of winning the regular season but if everyone gets healthy and they come together in March this team could be someone you do not want to face come ACC tournament time.
Virginia is in a good position to win another ACC championship but in order to do so they need to go through UNC twice, Duke, and Notre Dame, along with a slew of other top ACC competition. Realistically, if Virginia wants to win the ACC, their games against UNC and Notre Dame are must-wins. They must also take care of business against the lower half of the ACC.
Florida State, although not my prediction to win, may have the best shot at capturing the regular season crown. Compared to the other teams at the top of the ACC, they have an easier schedule. I believe UNC is the best team and therefore will win but if Florida State can take care of business and win 1 or 2 big games, don’t be surprised if they’re the ones to capture the ACC regular season title.
Currently the ACC has 6 ranked teams but 8 teams have cracked the top 25 at some point this season and 5 have made it into the top 10. This conference is messy, competitive, and hard to predict and that’s where the beauty comes from. The ACC is a conference like no other and just like their slogan you have to “Bring Your A Game!”