2005-06 ACC Preview: Fewer Stars, But Still Strong

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No. 1? Nah, No. 11 is more realistic for the Cavaliers.

All the media attention may be on football and the conference’s first championship game right now, but the ACC at heart will always be a basketball conference. Nothing nationwide can compete with the pageantry, tradition and glory of the conference, though the souped-up, 16-team Big East will do its best to try.

For the ACC, this year probably will mark a step down in overall talent, but that was almost inevitable given player attrition. The ACC boasts three of the last five NCAA champions and sent five teams to the 2005 NCAA tournament, excluding newcomer Boston College. But the star power has decreased dramatically, with rare talents like Chris Paul, Raymond Felton, Jarrett Jack, Julius Hodge and Sean May all now donning NBA uniforms. When all was said and done, five ACC players went among the top 14 picks and nine were selected in the first 39 picks.

Most stars may be gone, but the ACC will still boast its share of talent. The nation’s number one team still lies on Tobacco Road (Duke) and four other ACC teams – Boston College, Wake Forest, N.C. State and Maryland – sit in the top 25, at least for now. Will things be the same come tournament time in March? Even in down years, the ACC always emerges as a top conference because of the raw talent that arrives on an annual basis. Reserves become stars and heralded freshmen become megastars, meaning that the ACC will still manage to be one of the nation’s top conferences. Here’s one man’s guess to how things will fall, and perhaps I’ll have more success here than I did with my football picks…

1) Duke