Brian: So much for any media optimism surrounding the 2009-2010 Eagles men’s basketball program. The men’s team was selected ninth by the media members at the ACC’s Operation Basketball event this weekend. The Eagles were ranked ahead of only Miami, Virginia and NC State.
Here is the predicted order of finish with first-place votes in parenthesis:
1. Duke (25), 545
1. UNC (20), 545
3. Clemson, 409
4. Georgia Tech (2), 387
5. Maryland, 378
6. Wake Forest (1), 315
7. Florida State, 314
8. Virginia Tech, 273
9. Boston College, 251
10. Miami, 135
11. Virginia, 116
12. N.C. State, 76
Jeff, your thoughts?
Jeff: Wow. I'm pretty surprised here, but welcome to the ACC. In football, if you have a top 25 team you expect to compete for the conference title. But in basketball, it takes a top 10 team to have high hopes to win the conference. The ACC could get 9 teams into the dance any given year so being picked to or actually finishing 9th is not necessarily a season failure. As I look at the teams ranked above us, I would've had Boston College higher than all except Duke, North Carolina and Clemson. But, can I really say the media is completely wrong about any of the other five teams above us? No. The first team I would move down is Maryland but they do have a lot more history than BC and finished the year strong last season.
As you can see from the votes, the league has three tiers:
- North Carolina and Duke
- Clemson, Maryland, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, Florida State and BC
- NC State, Virginia and Miami.
Which team ranked ahead of the Eagles do you think absolutely doesn't deserve to be?
Brian: I wouldn’t have BC too much higher, but definitely higher than 9th in the ACC. A couple of teams ranked above BC I’m not particularly high on though, and am surprised that BC is ranked lower than these two teams.
One of those teams is Florida State. Sure, BC loses 16.9 points per game of production in Tyrese Rice, but that is the only starter that the Eagles lose. On the other hand, the Seminoles not only have to replace their leader and ACC defensive player of the year Toney Douglas (21.5 ppg) but also lose Uche Echefu in the paint (8.1 ppg, 5.2 rpg). Douglas, in particular, was arguably a more valuable part of the Seminoles success last season than Rice was to the Eagles’ success, and it will be hard for the Seminoles to replace his offensive and defensive production.
The other team is Georgia Tech. Despite the arrival of all-world recruit Derrick Favors, I’m supposed to believe that Paul Hewitt is going to lead Tech from a 2-14 record to a top 4 finish in the league? (Even more surprisingly, two voters have Georgia Tech winning the conference’s regular season title??) I’m not following. The past four seasons, the team that finishes fourth in the league standings has won roughly 10 games. An 8-game swing season-over-season is a tall order for Hewitt’s young Yellow Jacket team. I don’t care how much recruiting talent you bring in; there will definitely be some teething issues in Atlanta.
The biggest reason I’m not very high on Georgia Tech this year is their ACC schedule. Georgia Tech may have the hardest schedule of any ACC program in 2009-2010. Check out which teams Georgia Tech has to play twice - Duke, North Carolina, Clemson, Wake Forest, Florida State. Last year, Georgia Tech went a mere 2-6 against those teams, with one of those wins coming in the ACC Tournament vs. Clemson. I will be shocked if Georgia Tech can get through this slate of ACC games at 5-5. Paul Hewitt’s squad has nowhere to go but up, but a worst-to-top 4 league finish I think it a bit unrealistic.
However, as BC proves year in and year out, championships aren't won from preseason polls. They are won on the court.