Part I: UNC, Duke and Wake Forest
Part II: Clemson, Miami and Virginia Tech
2007-08 record: 15-17, 7-9 ACC (seventh)
Projected starting lineup: G Moe Miller, G Iman Shumpert, G Lewis Clinch, F Gani Lawal, F Zack Peacock
New addition: G Iman Shumpert
Dave Telep's recruiting analysis: "He hasn't settled into a position yet, but he's a 2 who can help them handle the ball. He's a talented kid with exceptional size."
Outlook: At one point, while Javaris Crittenton and Thad Young were still in school, Georgia Tech had legitimate Final Four hopes for 2008. Crittenton and Young both left for the NBA after one season and the Yellow Jackets never made the NCAA Tournament. Actually, 2007-08 was coach Paul Hewitt's second losing season in three years.
This season looks like more of the same for Tech. Seven ACC wins was overachieving for last year's group, which began the season with a home loss to UNC-Greensboro. There were highlights — sweeping Wake Forest and knocking off Clemson on March 6 — but this team isn't going to magically win 10 ACC games next season.
The Jackets will be physical with forwards like Zack Peacock, who emerged at the end of the season as a scoring threat, and Ra'Sean Dickey, who returns from a redshirt season, although they will miss Jeremis Smith, their de facto bodyguard.
And they have a good mix of skill with point guard Moe Miller, who progressed during his freshman season, sophomore Gani Lawal and freshman Iman Shumpert. But this team won't be exceptional.
While Gary Wiliams catches heat at Maryland for letting his program fall apart after going to the Final Four twice at the beginning of this decade, Hewitt's quietly led the Jackets from the Final Four, in 2004, to mediocrity. Since losing to UConn in the '04 championship game, Tech's 27-37 in ACC play. Half of those four seasons have been overall losing efforts.
Even Hewitt's best teams have never won more than nine ACC games. That won't change this season, even if the Jackets are better.
| RETURNING PLAYERS
|G Lewis Clinch||Sr.||9.0||1.9||1.3|
|G Moe Miller||So.||8.1||2.3||3.3|
|G D'Andre Bell||Sr.||6.6||2.1||1.9|
|F Gani Lawal||So.||7.2||3.5||0.3|
|F Zack Peacock||Jr.||9.9||3.9||1.4|
|F Alade Aminu||Sr.||6.0||4.1||0.6|
|F Brad Sheehan||So.||0.9||1.2||0.4|
|G Lance Storrs||So.||1.0||0.8||0.5|
|F Ra'Sean Dickey (06-07 stats)||Sr.||8.1||5.3||1.0|
|G Anthony Morrow||14.2||4.1||1.1|
|F Jeremis Smith||10.5||7.1||1.9|
|G Matt Causey||7.2||1.5||3.7|
|F Mouhammad Faye (transfer)||2.2||1.4||0.4|
|G Iman Shumpert||Fr.||6-4||175||18|
2007-08 record: 13-17, 4-12 ACC (11th)
Projected starting lineup: G Tyrese Rice, G Rakim Sanders, F Corey Raji, F Joe Trapani, F Josh Southern
New additions: G Reggie Jackson, F Dallas Elmore, F Evan Ravenel, F Joe Trapani (transfer from Vermont)
Dave Telep's recruiting analysis:
"Jackson can play both wing positions. Like a lot of Boston College recruits, he was definitely under the radar for most of his high school career. He's versatile and he has
good instincts. ... Ravenel could help but his biggest concern will be getting his body in shape."
Outlook: This might look too high for a team that won four games and basically adds one recruit but at this point, Al Skinner deserves the benefit of the doubt. He makes sure his players understand how to execute his flex offensive system. In a season where there could be very little difference between teams No. 6 through 12, that gives Skinner and BC an edge.
Plus, senior guard Tyrese Rice is terrific. He nearly beat UNC by himself in Chestnut Hill, scoring 34 points in a half and an ACC-best 46 in a 90-80 loss on March 1. Problem for the Eagles is Rice needs help. Wings Rakim Sanders and Corey Raji showed an ability to do that as freshmen and should only be more consistent in another year in Skinner's system.
Inside, the Eagles are thin with the transfer of Shamari Spears, who worked his way into Skinner's chateau bow-wow by the end of the season, but Spears would have been better than the alternatives this season. Josh Southern picked up some of Spears' minutes in late February and March and transfer Joe Trapani, who averaged 11.4 points as a freshman at Vermont, will be counted on in the post.
The loss of senior big Tyrelle Blair, who led the ACC in blocked shots, will also hurt what is already a limited defensive team.
So they're limited offensively, beyond Rice, and defensively, but I picked them eighth. Makes sense. Except you have to think of the bigger ACC picture. There's going to be a separation this season — again — between UNC, Duke and everyone else. Good coaching and a star guard tend to find their level. Besides, the NIT is probably the best BC can do.
|G Tyrese Rice||Sr.||21.0||3.3||5.0|
|G Rakim Sanders||So.||11.3||4.6||1.7|
|F Corey Raji||So.||8.3||4.3||0.9|
|G Biko Paris||So.||5.7||1.7||2.9|
|F Josh Southern||So.||5.6||3.4||0.6|
|F Courtney Dunn||So.||1.7||0.7||0.0|
|G Tyler Roche||Jr.||3.8||1.9||1.6|
|F Shamari Spears (transfer)||9.1||6.1||1.1|
|F Tyrelle Blair||5.0||4.8||0.7|
|F John Oates||4.3||3.4||0.9|
|F Daye Kaba (transfer)||0.6||0.6||0.3|
|G Reggie Jackson||Fr.||6-2||165||91|
|F Dallas Elmore||Fr.||6-4||190||NR|
|F Evan Ravenel||Fr.||6-7||245||NR|
|F Joe Trapani (transfer)||So.||6-8||215||—|
2007-08 record: 19-14, 8-8 ACC (sixth)
Postseason: NIT (1-1), lost at Syracuse in second round
Projected starting lineup: G Greivis Vasquez, G Eric Hayes, G Landon Milbourne, F Dino Gregory, F Braxton Dupree
New addition: G Sean Mosley
Dave Telep's recruiting analysis: "Love him. He's a throwback kind of guy. He just knows how to put the ball in the basket. He's a winner and a worker. He's exactly the kind of guy Gary Williams can win with. They lost some talented recruits but Mosley was the cornerstone of that class."
Outlook: If Sean Mosley qualifies, which hasn't happened yet, Maryland will have 10 players on scholarship. That's three less than the NCAA allows. The Terps signed two top-75 recruits in Gus Gilchrist and Tyree Evans but both were released from their commitment. Reserve forward Shane Walker also transferred.
So Maryland does not have a lot and I fully expect them to be picked last. If we've learned anything in the post-expansion ACC it is that teams don't like to be picked last and are motivated by it (see Miami '08, N.C. State '07, Virginia '06).
Of course, in order to avoid the basement, Greivis Vasquez will have to have an even bigger junior season than his sophomore one. That's asking a lot, seeing as how the General averaged 17 points, 5.7 rebounds and 6.8 assists per game. The assists might come down without James Gist or Bambale Osby to feed in the post, but the scoring numbers should go up.
With Mosley, Maryland would have three strong guards, including Eric Hayes, and that's enough in college basketball to be respectable. It wouldn't hurt if forwards Jerome Burney, Dino Gregory or Braxton Dupree developed as a competent post player but neither one will have a choice, they're going to get a ton of minutes. The alternative at forward is Dave Neal.
Look, Maryland fans are restless. It seems like an eternity since that 2002 national title, especially when the Terps have missed the NCAA Tournament in three of the past four years. They might want to come to grips now that it's going to be four of the past five.
This team will still be fun to watch. Just ask N.C. State how uncomplicated a season with low expectations and a seven-man rotation can be.
| RETURNING PLAYERS
|G Greivis Vasquez||Jr.||17.0||5.7||6.8|
|G Eric Hayes||Jr.||9.9||3.2||4.5|
|F Landon Milbourne||Jr.||8.2||3.5||0.7|
|G Cliff Tucker||So.||4.1||2.3||1.4|
|G Adrian Bowie||So.||3.7||1.6||0.9|
|F Braxton Dupree||So.||2.5||2.2||0.1|
|F Dave Neal||Sr.||1.9||1.4||0.3|
|F Jerome Burney||So.||1.8||1.6||0.2|
|F Dino Gregory||So.||0.5||1.0||0.2|
|F James Gist||15.9||7.9||1.4|
|F Bambale Osby||11.5||6.5||0.8|
|F Shane Walker||0.5||1.0||0.2|
|G Sean Mosley||Fr.||6-4||205||41|