Giglio won’t get down to NC State until tomorrow, but you should start reading his (with assists by UNC acolyte Robbi Pickeral) excellent “slow season” series today. First up, the overall preview:
The 2009-10 ACC basketball season promises to be different.
For the first time in the expansion era, there is not one, overwhelming favorite to win and/or run away with the league…
The ’10 season will be more of a combination of the 1984-85 and 1994-95 seasons, than like any thing the ACC has seen since Miami and Virginia Tech joined the league before the 2004-05 season, and Boston College a season later.
In ’85, an incredible five teams, in what was then an eight-team league, were separated by one game. Georgia Tech, UNC (coping with the loss of some random future megastar) and N.C. State each went 9-5. Duke and Maryland were a whisper behind at 8-6.
The good teams were good (three of those teams made the Final Eight), but not great (none of them made the Final Four), and the bad teams were just blah.
In ’95, Wake Forest, UNC, Maryland and Virginia all tied for first — the only time in league history the regular-season ended in a four-way tie.
The league was top heavy, though, with the top four at 12-4 and none of the other five teams finished above .500.
I think this is all spot-on. As we discussed earlier this summer, 2009-10 will be the first season since 1984-85 to feature zero returning all-ACC first teamers (and only two guards from SFN’s second and third teams – VT’s Malcolm Delaney and Maryland’s Greivis Vasquez, respectively). You could end up with a jumbled mess of 9-10 win teams, or a solid handful of 10-12 teams and a bunch of squads languishing in NIT/CBI territory. The only certainty is that both evil blues will be part of the lead pack, regardless. Damn it.
I’m more impressed by Giglio’s analysis than his actual rankings, as I think he underestimates Clemson and especially VT, while overestimating Boston College. Yes, the Eagles return many players and are well-coached – but how many games did they win last year without departed Tyrese Rice shouldering most of the load? I’m sure there were some, but I don’t remember any offhand. I don’t expect them to plummet like Miami, but certainly not finish third.
Part I of the team-by-team analysis (UNC, BC, FSU) is here. It is most notable for inducing vomit when you remember that this is what Roy’s Holes look like in a down year. They will likely win the ACC regular season or tournament, get a Top 4 seed in the NCAAT, lose in the second or third round – and Roy will apologize for having such a bad season and pledge that it will never happen again. BC also adds zero recruits, which strikes me (and J.P./Robbi) as very odd. If Florida State’s highly-rated guard recruit is ready early and Derwin Kitchen steps up, the Seminoles are an interesting dark horse.
Part II of the team-by-team analysis (Duke, GT, Clemson) is here. It is most notable for Giglio’s detailed logic for picking Duke ahead of UNC – very persuasive, even if I don’t agree with the ultimate conclusion. I don’t like Singler for POY, either. I think he’ll have to adjust to playing on the wing, and will really struggle defensively. My (nonexistent) pre-season vote would still go to Malcolm Delaney, the top returning player from last year’s SFN honors. The Jackets bolster their funky name tradition by adding a Mfon and a Kammeon this year. Clemson also adds three Top 75 recruits – and if Purnell starts recruiting better, I see no reason for Clemson not to get over the hump and join the ACC elite. As evidenced early last February, the Tigers have Duke figured out every bit as much as Villanova.
Part III of the team-by-team analysis (Wake, MD, UVA) is here. It is most notable for the best one sentence summary of Wake basketball that I’ve seen (“But if you can’t shoot, and your coach isn’t that good, where does that leave you?”). According to Giglio, it leaves you 10th in a 12 team league. Ouch. We also remember just how maddeningly inconsistent Maryland has been lately (and will likely be so again this year), and just how shitty Dave Leitao was. I predict that former Charlotte Hornet Tony Bennett will win several 47-44 games (that they have no business even seriously contesting) this year, killing at least one ACC foe’s NCAAT resume.
7/23 UPDATE: Here is Part IV (State, VT, Miami). Giglio gives the “Lowe/Fowler enablers” point of view a much more thorough airing than is logically warranted, but then closes with this prescient paragraph (which I highlight because I believe its is accurate, not because it is negative – reality just sucks sometimes):
Without Brown, Lowe’s trying to start over with many of the same parts — Julius Mays, Javi Gonzalez, Smith, C.J. Williams — that he either mishandled or ignored for long stretches of last season. It’s tough to sell a fan base on a restart when really the cards are being reshuffled in a transparent game of three-card monte.
I believe Giglio is a little premature in declaring Virginia Tech’s window closing – yes, the last two years did involve missed opportunities, but two veteran, star players (especially when one is a playmaking guard) gives you a legitimate shot at the upper echelon, at least in an ACC like 2009-10′s. I can’t argue with the prediction a Category Five disaster for the Miami Hurricanes. They should give the Pack a run for their money in the chase for rock bottom.