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Thursday October 28th

Interactive graphic: A look at the 2015-16 ACC men's basketball teams

Here's a preview of UNC's ACC opponents this basketball season:

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Wake Forest
FSU
ACC Basketball Preview
Virginia Tech
Virginia
Compiled by DTH Sports Graphic by Meggie Cruser, Megan Mallonee, Kameron Southerland and Kelsey Weekman
Syracuse
N.C. State
Pittsburgh
Louisville
Boston College
Duke
Clemson
Georgia Tech
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Georgia Tech
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The Georgia Tech men's basketball team finds itself in a familiar situation — rebuilding in the midst of one of the strongest conferences in the country.After a disappointing 2014-15 campaign, the Yellow Jackets come into the 2015-16 season with a solid squad and higher expectations. They are returning many of their scoring threats from a year ago and have added experience, which will be important down the road.The team will lean on the leadership of senior Marcus Georges-Hunt. The 6-foot-5 guard from College Park, Ga., started in every game he played a year ago and led his team in both scoring and minutes played. He has seen improvement every year at Georgia Tech and looks to take that next step this season. “He brings his offensive talent: driving, dishing, passing. He can do it all," said senior forward Charles Mitchell when talking about his teammate. "And he can also go into the post with his size … overall he just brings a great talent to our team.”  While Georges-Hunt is one of the Yellow Jackets' best options on the court, he is also a leader of the court.  The senior has flourished in the classroom at Georgia Tech, and has made the ACC All-Academic team in both 2013 and 2014. Georgia Tech has struggled to stay competitive in recent years, but behind the leadership of Georges-Hunt, the Yellow Jackets might have what it takes to make it out of the lowest ranks of the ACC this season.Record last season: 12-19 (3-15 ACC) Coach: Brian Gregory Three key newcomers: First-year forward Sylvester Ogbonda, graduate transfer Adam Smith (from Virginia Tech) and redshirt senior forward Nick Jacobs (transfer from Alabama)  Three players to watch: Senior guard Marcus Georges-Hunt, senior forward Charles Mitchell and graduate transfer guard Adam Smith Key departures: Guard Chris Bolden (transferring), center Demarco Cox and forward Robert Sampson Projected finish by media: 13th in ACC Biggest question mark: Will experience lead to success for Georgia Tech? They are expected to start four seniors this season.Biggest strength: The Yellow Jackets biggest strength is their front court, which is composed of three seniors and the team's top two scorers from a season ago. When they play UNC: North Carolina hosts Georgia Tech at noon on Jan. 2. Quotable: “We want to play with control and a chip on our shoulder. I like our team chemistry and what we’ve learned from our mistakes last year. And being more focused and just more mentally tough to fit through battles and adversity.” — Mitchell on the upcoming season. 
Ranked No. 1 in the nation as recently as 2009, Wake Forest basketball has fallen on hard times over the past five seasons, compiling an overall ACC record of 22-64 and failing to reach the NCAA or NIT tournaments in any of those campaigns.  However, there is reason for hope in Winston-Salem as Coach Danny Manning enters his 2nd season on the job. Manning was the NCAA player of the year for Kansas in 1988 and the No. 1 pick in the following NBA Draft.  With all of his accolades, the Greensboro native has brought star-power and energy back to a program that longs to return to the days when the likes of Chris Paul and Tim Duncan wore the black and gold.  Only three scholarship players remain from the previous coaching staff — seniors Codi Miller-McIntyre, Devin Thomas and Andre Washington. Thomas and Miller-McIntyre were Wake Forest’s leading scorers in 2014, and they will look to lead a group of talented underclassmen, including a freshman class that was ranked No. 32 overall by 247Sports, back to the postseason.  Thomas, who has been the Demon Deacons starting center his entire career, said he is ready to see hope turn into reality.  “We've got a lot of good talent,” he said. “This is the year I'm hoping that we can be consistent, to be honest, and to win.” Record last season: 13-19 (5-13 in the ACC)  Coach: Danny Manning  Key newcomers: First-year point guard Bryant Crawford, first-year center Doral Moore and first-year power forward John Collins  Key departure: Darius Leonard  Three players to watch: Senior forward Devin Thomas, senior guard Codi Miller-McIntyre and sophomore forward Konstantinos Mitoglou  Projected finish by the media: 11th in ACC  Biggest question mark: Can Wake Forest win on the road? The Demon Deacons have won just two ACC road games in the last five seasons combined.  Biggest strength: The Demon Deacons will revolve around the Inside-out combination of 3-point shooting big man Konstantinos Mitoglou and bruising center Devin Thomas. When they play UNC: North Carolina will host Wake Forest on Jan. 20.  Quotable: “(As a) former athlete, your body tends to break down and wear down, and a lot of times it's the bench seats are on the concrete and then the floor is a little bit elevated so it's like I'm sitting on a Port-a-Potty, so I may as well stand up or get a bigger chair a lot of times.” — 6-foot-10 Danny Manning on why he sits in a bigger chair during games. 
Wake Forest
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Virginia Tech
For the past two seasons, the Virginia men's basketball has dominated regular season play.After claiming the ACC regular season championship in back-to-back seasons, the Cavaliers enter the 2015-16 campaign as the No. 6 team in the nation — Virginia's highest preseason ranking since 1982-83 when Ralph Sampson donned a Virginia uniform.And the key to the Cavaliers' success has been no secret — their stifling defense.In 2014-15, under Coach Tony Bennett’s "Pack-Line" formation, Virginia's defense allowed an average of 51.4 points per game — the lowest in the country.This year, the Cavaliers will have to compensate for the losses of forward Darion Atkins — the ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 2014-15 — and guard Justin Anderson, the team's second-leading scorer from a season ago.But Bennett still has options.Namely, redshirt seniors Malcolm Brogdon and Anthony Gill are returning to head the Cavalier attack. The two were named to the Preseason All-ACC first team and second team, respectively, while Brogdon was voted ACC Preseason Co-Player of the Year.And in the absence of Atkins and Anderson, junior guard London Perrantes and senior center Mike Tobey will both focus on sharpening their aggression on the court with increased workloads.Sophomore guard Marial Shayok is slated to be the primary replacement for Anderson in the starting lineup. But Bennett will also likely turn to redshirt sophomore guard Devon Hall and sophomore forward Isaiah Wilkins. And after sitting out a year ago, redshirt sophomore guard Darius Thompson — a transfer from Tennessee — is eligible to hit the court this season.With such strong depth off the bench, Bennett knows his secondary players are poised for bigger roles."I think those guys are really hungry for the challenge," he said.And alongside a smothering "Pack-Line" defense and elite play from Brogdon and Gill, Virginia is primed to repeat its dominant display yet again.Record last season: 30-4 (16-2 ACC)Coach: Tony BennettKey newcomers: Redshirt sophomore guard Darius Thompson (transfer) and first-year forward Jarred Reuter3 players to watch: Redshirt senior guard Malcolm Brogdon, redshirt senior forward Anthony Gill and junior guard London PerrantesProjected finish by media: SecondBiggest question mark: With the loss of Atkins and Anderson, it is unknown how the returning players will step up to maintain Virginia's defensive prowess, as well as which players from the bench will fill in the holes in the starting lineup.Biggest strength: Boasting the nation's best defense a year ago, Virginia’s "Pack-Line" defense has been the main contributor to its regular season success.When they play UNC: The Cavaliers will host the Tar Heels on Feb. 27.Quotable: "I talk about it every year, but I think there's quality depth, at least right now. You could make a case for 10 guys. ... So I think that's got to be a strength of ours." — Bennett on the impact of his team's bench.
Pittsburgh men's basketball coach Jamie Dixon is taking a risk this season as he revamps the Panthers roster with the addition of eight new players. From transfer students to first-year players, Pittsburgh is planning to execute new tactics to have a whole new feel as they fight to be competitive in the ACC this upcoming season. They finished the 2014-15 season with a 19 wins, making the transition into this season an easy gateway to make adjustments to the program. The team also returns Cameron Johnson, who missed the last 26 games of the season with a shoulder injury.  The addition of so many new team members could be both a weakness and strength for the Panthers. The team will have to find their groove as they adjust to working as a unit without being overly familiar with each other. Bu the new faces on the court will add a breath of fresh air to a team that has the potential to stand out from the crowd.“It’s been different, there’s no question. I’ve never been in this situation. We’ve always been a team that our classes have been three or four seniors and have always had balanced classes,” Dixon said regarding the influx of new players this season. “With some guys going early, a couple transfers, the suspension we had last year — it’s kind of messed up our balance.”As expected, the first-year players have had some trouble acclimating to the college game, but Dixon said the transfers have adjusted quickly.“They’re new, but they’re not new into college basketball,” Dixon said. “You can see it out there in the practice; it’s the freshman who are struggling most on defense, but the other six guys, especially the three graduate students, they seem to pick things up.”Record last season: 19-15 (8-10 ACC)  Coach: Jamie Dixon  Key newcomers: Junior guard Jonathan Milligan (transfer from Kilgore College), first-year guard Damon Wilson, and graduate student forward Alonzo Nelson-Ododa (transfer from Richmond) Key departures: Forward Durand Johnson, center Tyrone Haughton, and guard Cameron Wright. 3 players to watch: Senior point guard James Robinson, redshirt first-year Cameron Johnson, Junior forward Michael Young Projected finish by media: 10th in ACC. Biggest question mark: This season will be defined by the meshing of new transfer players in with seasoned Panthers, leaving the overall collaboration and unification of the players the key factor in determining the status of Pittsburgh’s upcoming season. Biggest strength: The Pittsburgh Panthers saw a great season last year regarding their offense and managed to rank 30th in adjusted offensive efficiency. Coming back this year with a new and improved roster should only further this accomplishment and the Panther’s offensive skills will continue to prosper throughout the 2015-16 season.  When they play UNC: North Carolina will host the Panthers on Sunday, Feb. 14. Quotable: “I don’t feel like we’re that young of a team even though we have six new players. We’ve got depth this year, which we didn’t have. I always felt depth was the reason why we’re good defensively.” -- Dixon on the transfer students that have joined the Panthers.
Pittsburgh
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Normally when a college basketball team loses four out of its five starters, the next season would be a rebuilding year. But that won’t be the case for Coach Mike Krzyzewski and the defending NCAA Champion Duke men's basketball team. Krzyzewski followed up last year’s No. 1 ranked recruiting class with another highly-ranked group of incoming first-year players that will look to replace some of the production that left the team after the 2014-15 season. “I think they have all the potential to be a really good team,” Coach Krzyzewski said. “They’re unselfish, they work together and they have each other’s back. We just have to put in a system that personalizes their talents, instead of fitting their talents into a certain system.”Former first-year phenoms Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow and Tyus Jones all declared for the 2015 NBA Draft, while senior Quinn Cook graduated and went undrafted. However, the Blue Devils immediately reloaded with four five-star recruits in guard/forward Brandon Ingram, guard Derryck Thornton, guard Luke Kennard and forward Chase Jeter. With the incoming freshman class, Duke has yet another unproven and youthful team with unquestionable talent.Ingram was voted preseason ACC Freshman of the Year and is expected to be an immediate standout. At 6-foot-9 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan, Ingram’s ability to shoot, paired with his explosive drive to the basket, will make him a consistent offensive threat from day one. Sophomore guard Grayson Allen — Duke’s breakout star of the 2015 NCAA tournament — will look to continue his late season progress into the 2015-16 campaign. Allen will try to provide leadership alongside senior forward Amile Jefferson and graduate center Marshall Plumlee as the main veteran players on this fledgling team. Jefferson said the newcomers have already blended well with the team, and that they are already building a cohesive unit on the court.“It’s really about knowing your team and knowing how to get the best out of everybody,” said Jefferson. “We can lean on each other for support. Helping (the first-years) along the way, being there to push them, I think that’s how you make a team that trusts each other.”Plumlee admits that comparisons of last season’s first-year-laden team and their current team are inevitable, but he said he thinks this team can stand on its own merit.“Inherently no one (first-year) class is the same,” Plumlee said of the comparison. “Even though they’re not the same, that’s not a bad thing. They bring some new things to the table.”Doubters will call this team young and inexperienced, but Krzyzewski will look to his senior core to make his team a title contender. Record last season: 35-4 (15-3 ACC), 2nd in ACC Coach: Mike Krzyzewski  Key newcomers: Guard/forward Brandon Ingram, guard Derryck Thornton and forward Chase Jeter.  Key departures: Center Jahlil Okafor, forward Justise Winslow and guard Tyus Jones  3 players to watch: Sophomore guard Grayson Allen, first-year guard/forward Brandon Ingram and first-year guard Derryck Thornton  Projected finish by media: 3rd in ACC  Biggest question mark: This is another raw Duke roster with loads of unproven talent at the collegiate level. Getting quality minutes from their bench players could be a concern as well. Biggest strength: Krzyzewski is a young Duke team’s biggest asset. If he can get his current team to mesh by tournament time like he did last year, opponents will have their hands full. When they play UNC: North Carolina will host Duke on Feb. 17, and the Blue Devils will host UNC on Mar. 5  Quotable: “Once we get into games, hopefully we’ll see a growth in November and December, before January, where they’ll all look more like upperclassmen.” — Krzyzewski on how the first-year players will adjust.
Duke
This year, Miami is determined not to be denied.The Hurricanes enter the 2015-16 season returning their top four scorers from a team that won 25 games and barely missed the NCAA Tournament a year ago.“We should have been in last year,” Coach Jim Larrañaga said at ACC media day.Miami won a number of big games during the 2014-15 season, including a November win against Florida and a victory over eventual champion Duke in January. Yet the Hurricanes’ hopes of a tournament berth were derailed by losses to Green Bay and Eastern Kentucky.Many of the players who made those upsets possible return — and they are hoping the inexplicable losses bring the necessary experience to avoid repeating the same mistakes.The backcourt’s assumed starters, redshirt seniors Angel Rodriguez and Sheldon McClellan, accounted for 36 percent of Miami's points in the 2014-15 season. This season, the two former-Big 12 transfers — who formed a rivalry when at Kansas State and Texas, respectively — are set to take charge of the team.“I guess it’s one of those cases that if he’s against you, you won’t like him very much," Rodriguez said of McClellan. "If he’s with you, you love him.”The Hurricanes also return senior center Tonye Jekiri, who led Miami with 1.38 blocks per game and topped the ACC in rebounds after grabbing 9.9 boards per contest a season ago. Larrañaga said Jekiri — who also finished third on the team in scoring — seems to expand areas of his game each season.“He’s improved his offense dramatically, and he might be playing in the NBA,” Larrañaga said. “He’s rebounding at a high level and scoring at a much higher rate.”Although relatively thin in the frontcourt, the Hurricanes added depth with first-year center Ebuka Izundu, who joins fellow first-years Anthony Lawrence Jr. and Mike Robinson on the roster. Redshirt junior forward Kamari Murphy — who is eligible this season after transferring from Oklahoma State — rounds out a talented but unproven team.And with so many returning players who fell short a year ago, Miami is not lacking in confidence to reach the NCAA Tournament this season.“We have the talent. We have the maturity,” Rodriguez said. “We have the veteran guys and everybody’s buying in and we know what it takes.”Record last season: 25-13 (10-8 ACC)Coach: Jim Key newcomers: First-year center Ebuka Izundu, first-year guard Mike Robinson and redshirt junior Kamari Murphy (transfer)Key departures: Guard Manu Lecomte, guard Deandre Burnett and forward Omar Sherman3 players to watch: Redshirt senior Angel Rodriguez, redshirt senior Sheldon McClellan and senior center Tonye JekiriProjected finish by media: fifthBiggest question mark: Miami has struggled in its ability to shoot from distance. The Hurricanes shot 35.8 percent from behind the arc a year ago, but that number includes a 45.6 percent mark from the now-departed Lecomte. The only proven 3-point threat to return for the Hurricanes is junior guard Davon Reed, who shot 45.7 percent from deep in 2014-15.Biggest strength: The Hurricanes will rely on their veteran backcourt, led by McClellan and Rodriguez. The two former Big 12 transfers are now redshirt seniors and led Miami in points and assists a season ago.When they play UNC: The Hurricanes will visit Chapel Hill to play the Tar Heels at 1 p.m. on Feb. 20.Quotable: “This year is a whole different team. We’ve been around each other. We’ve argued many times. We’ve made each other happy many times. It’s a whole different team this year.” — Rodriguez on the chemistry of the team.
Miami
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Buzz Williams’ rebuilding project continues. Williams’ first season as Virginia Tech’s head coach was ugly. The team showed moments of promise, such as its ACC tournament win over Wake Forest, but its season was plagued by injuries and inconsistencies on defense and at the free-throw line. “Some days we didn’t have enough bodies to practice,” Williams said. “The bodies we did have didn’t need to practice. We needed to try to get healthy enough to play the next day.”In addition, eight players have left the program since Williams took over in 2014, three upon the conclusion of last season. The most notable loss for the Hokies is guard Adam Smith, who transferred to Georgia Tech. Smith played in all 33 games last season, averaged 13.4 points per game and led the team in 3-point shooting percentage (42.4). Still, there is a positive vibe surrounding the program in Blacksburg, Va. The Hokies will count on former Maryland guard Seth Allen, who is eligible to play after sitting out last season per NCAA transfer rules. Allen averaged 13.4 points per game in his last season at Maryland.  Williams said he is excited about the pairing of Allen with junior guard Devin Wilson, the only remaining scholarship player on the Hokies roster from the previous coaching staff. Wilson averaged 30 minutes of play and 6.5 points per game during the 2014-2015 season.  “You put Devin and Seth on the same team, it’s not quite fair. Their symmetry has been really good, really good,” Williams said.  The Hokies are equipped with young, talented players and a coach with a history of success. But the team has a lot of work ahead of them if they want to improve upon last year’s 11-22 (2-16 ACC) record. Last year’s record: 11-22 (2-16 ACC)  Head coach: Buzz Williams  Key newcomers: Redshirt junior Seth Allen (Maryland transfer), guard/forward Chris Clarke and redshirt junior forward Zach LeDay (South Florida transfer) Key departures: Guard Adam Smith, guard Malik Muller and forward Joey van Zegeren  3 players to watch: Sophomore guard Justin Bibbs, sophomore guard Ahmed Hill and junior guard Devin Wilson  Projected finish by media: 14th in ACC  Biggest question mark: Defense. Last season, the Hokies’ defense was last in the conference in field goal percentage allowed (47 percent), 3-pointers allowed (140), and second-to-last in points allowed per game (72.8). With another undersized group this year, it is questionable whether there will be improvement.  Biggest strength: Virginia Tech was ranked No. 23 in the nation in 3-point percentage. The Hokies should continue this success with the return of sophomore guard Justin Bibbs.  When they play UNC: Virginia Tech hosts the Tar Heels on Jan. 24.  Quotable: “The Hokies are so starving for something, for somebody, somehow. Let’s create something. We need everybody to be a leader in their own way, and (Allen) has that ability.” –Williams on the ability of redshirt junior Seth Allen.
N.C. State is preparing for life after Trevor Lacey.Lacey, who led the team in points and minutes in the 2014-15 season, decided to forgo his remaining eligibility and enter the 2015 NBA Draft — where the former All-ACC standout went undrafted.Despite this loss, N.C. State is looking to improve on its performance from a year ago, when the eighth-seeded Wolfpack upset top-seeded Villanova in the NCAA Tournament en route to a Sweet 16 berth.With only two incoming first-years on the roster, N.C. State’s experience will prove to be one of its biggest assets. Six upperclassmen are returning to the squad, including West Virginia transfer Terry Henderson — who will return to the court after sitting out the 2014-15 season because of NCAA transfer rules. Coach Mark Gottfried said he likes the teamwork among this year’s team.Relying on this chemistry won’t be enough, though, as the Wolfpack looks to replace the leader it lost in Lacey.That role could be filled by junior guard Anthony "Cat" Barber. Voted as a Preseason Second-Team All-ACC member this season, the Wolfpack's top returning scorer averaged 12.1 points per game in his sophomore campaign, adding 3.7 assists per contest.This season, the junior has set the stage for a breakout campaign.In its exhibition game, N.C. State defeated Cal State-Los Angeles 71-54 and shot 40 percent from the floor. The team showed its athleticism, recording 21 fast-break points — more than doubling the Golden Eagles' total.But the standout was Barber, who led the team with 21 points and six assists in 30 minutes of play. And when the regular season comes, the combo guard will look to do more of the same. Record last season: 22-14 (10-8 ACC)Coach: Mark GottfriedKey newcomers: First-year wing Shaun Kirk, first-year wing Maverick Rowan and redshirt junior guard Terry Henderson (transfer) Key departures: Trevor Lacey, Ralston Turner and Kyle Washington3 Players to watch: Sophomore forward Abdul-Malik Abu, junior forward Lennard Freeman and junior guard Anthony "Cat" BarberProjected finish by media: EighthBiggest question mark: The team lacks a clear leader and will need to fill the void left by Trevor Lacey.Biggest strength: With a majority of its roster upperclassmen, N.C. State’s experience will be paramount in any unforeseen success.When they play UNC: The Wolfpack travels to the Smith Center to face UNC at noon on Jan. 16. The Tar Heels will then play at PNC Arena in Raleigh at 8 p.m. on Feb. 24.Quotable: "Our players understand there is not a superstar on the team. Even though Trevor — he wasn’t necessarily a superstar, but whenever it got tough, they all looked right at Trevor every time last year. And it started in practice, it started when he was redshirted. This year, there’s not that guy in the gym.” — Gottfried on his team's leadership.
N.C. State
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Jim Christian has a project ahead of him in his second season as the coach of the Boston College men's basketball team.In addition to losing their top four scorers from a season ago, the Eagles have only three remaining players on the roster who have played a minute for the team.One of the most intriguing newcomers is graduate-transfer Eli Carter, who transferred from Florida this offseason. Before coming to Boston College, Carter led Rutgers in scoring as a first-year and sophomore before transferring to Florida. And after a leg injury limited his first season with the Gators, Carter averaged 8.8 points per game and shot 30.5 percent from three in 2014-15. Along with his 3-point scoring, the Eagles hope Carter can add experience to a team with just three upperclassmen.As for the returning players, perhaps nobody is more critical to the team's success than senior Dennis Clifford. The 7-footer led the team in rebounds and blocks in 2014-15 and looks to be a leader of the team full of young players. However, Clifford's health is a concern. The center played sparingly in his sophomore season and appeared in just two games the following year after battling a nagging knee injury.But the Eagles will look for a repeat performance from Clifford's redshirt junior season, when he played in 31 games and avoided any major setbacks. And with first-years A.J. Turner and Matt Milon on board, the Eagles' future could be bright  — even with a predicted last-place finish this season.Record Last Season: 13-19 (4-14) Coach: Jim ChristianKey Newcomers: first-year guard Matt Milon, first-year forward A.J. Turner and redshirt senior guard Eli Carter (transfer) Key Departures: guard Olivier Hanlan, guard Dimitri Batten and guard Patrick Heckmann3 Players to Watch: redshirt senior guard Eli Carter, redshirt senior center Dennis Clifford and first-year forward A.J. Turner. Projected Finish: 15th Biggest Strength: For a team with a lot of roster turnover, the most obvious strength is youth. Fresh faces will bring much needed energy to a program perpetually at the bottom of the conference.Biggest Weakness: Contrarily, the Eagles have just three upperclassmen on the roster, so experience will be at a premium for this year's squad.When They Play UNC: The Eagles travel to Chapel Hill to play UNC at 4 p.m. on Jan. 30. Quotable: “We have a lot of guys who can put the ball in the basket. We are a much more talented up and down the roster. It will be easier than people think.” — redshirt senior guard Eli Carter on the team proving itself this season.
Boston College
Compiled by James Tatter
In contrast to its fellow Tigers who play their games in Death Valley, Clemson's men's basketball team continues searching for consistent offensive production.After a pedestrian 2014-15 season that saw the Tigers struggle to break even in the win column, the team looks to depend on their returning players to rebound from a season when the offense was the among the worst in the country.Unlike the football team, the Tigers ranked dismally in many key offensive statistics a season ago: 288th in the nation in points per game, 292nd in field goal percentage and 302nd in assists per game.But Clemson returns its leading scorer and rebounder from a season ago in junior forward Jaron Blossomgame, along with its second-best rebounder in senior center Landry Nnoko.In addition, sophomore Donte Grantham has the potential to build on a successful first year, where he was third on the team’s scoring list and second in assists. He can also be credited for his excellent defensive play, averaging nearly a steal and block a game .The Tigers will also look for productivity from first-year guard Ty Hudson, who was a four-star recruit out of Mableton, Ga.While the Tigers secured two wins a season ago over teams that received votes in the final Coaches' Poll, Clemson is not a team that is expected to shine — the Tigers were taken into double overtime by Division II Lenoir-Rhyne in an exhibition game on Nov. 5.But if the Tigers returning players can use their experience to improve, this team could pull off some surprise victories in the ACC.Record last season: 16-15 (8-10 ACC).Coach: Brad Brownell.Key newcomers: First-year guard Ty Hudson.Key departures: Guard Rod Hall and guard Damarcus Harrison.3 players to watch: Junior forward Jaron Blossomgame, sophomore forward Donte Grantham and senior center Landry Nnoko.Projected finish by media: 12th in the ACC.Biggest question mark: Clemson’s offense ranked 100th in adjusted offensive efficiency during the 2014-15 season, and will need to be creative on the offensive end to manufacture points this season.Biggest strength: On the opposite end of the court, the Tigers were significantly better, ranking 23rd in adjusted defensive efficiency. But they will still need their offense to keep up with this defense in order to compete for a winning record in the ACC.When they play UNC: North Carolina hosts the Tigers at 7 p.m. Dec. 30.Quotable: “I think we have more shooting, and for the first time in my six years we have our leading scorer back, so I’m hopeful that Jaron will continue to be a good scorer for us.” — Coach Brad Brownell on his improved offense.
Clemson
The 2014-15 season was a major disappointment for the Florida State men's basketball team. The Seminoles finished 10th in the conference, and missed out not only the NCAA Tournament, but also the NIT. Although the program has the third-most wins in the ACC since the start of the 2005-2006 season, there could be a tendency to overlook Florida State in a talent-laden conference this season. But the Seminoles have the talent to make any team pay if they make that mistake. The team will be led by preseason All-ACC first-team selection Xavier Rathan-Mayes. A season ago after guard Aaron Thomas — who was averaging 14.8 points per game — was ruled academically ineligible in December, the offense started and stopped with Rathan-Mayes. For this year, Leonard Hamilton — who is entering his 14th season as the Seminoles’ head coach — has brought in some talented reinforcements. He hopes the young players will help make this team more than just a good defensive team, and provide the offensive fire power needed to take it back to the top of the ACC. The group is led by McDonald’s All-American slam dunk contest winner Dwayne Bacon, who is considered the most anticipated recruit in the history of the program.He will be joined by the tallest player in Florida State’s history, 7-foot-4 center Chris Koumadje, who has the size to be the rim protector the team has been missing in the middle of their defense. He also has the athletic ability to run the floor with the high-paced offenses the Seminoles will face during conference play. With Florida State's first win of the season, Hamilton will become the school's all-time win leader with 237. He is also closing in on becoming the 10th all-time winningest coach in ACC history. But the team will need to win more than just a few games to be competitive this season.Record last season: 17-16 (8-10 ACC), 10th in the ACC Coach: Leonard HamiltonKey newcomers: First-year guard Dwayne Bacon, first-year Chris Koumadje and first-year guard Malik Beasley. Key departures: Guard Aaron Thomas. 3 players to watch: Sophomore guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes, senior guard Montay Brandon and senior guard Devon Bookert. Projected finish by media: 6th in the ACC Biggest question mark: Will Florida State be able to compete against the teams at the top of the conference? A season ago, the Seminoles were 1-6 against teams projected to finish in the top five of the ACC this season. The Seminoles only victory was a 55-54 win against Miami. Biggest strength: Florida State will have a lot of experience on the court this season. The top five point scorers are returning from the 2014-15 season. The Seminoles will also have eight juniors and seniors on this year’s team. All of this experience, combined with the 11th-ranked recruiting class in the country, could be the right combination of experience and talent Hamilton needs to lead the Seminoles back to the top of the ACC. When they play UNC: Jan. 4 in Tallahassee, Florida.Quotable: “I think we’re getting to the point where television, and the rankings and RPI, whatever those numbers mean, make it that you got to play the most dog-meat schedules you can." — Hamilton on his team's scheduling philosophy.
Florida State
Compiled by Christian Phillips
Compiled by Sam Doughton
Jim Boeheim is preparing for the 2015-16 season like any other he’s had in his 39-year coaching career at Syracuse — but this season is unlike any other in his Hall of Fame career.Though some final appeals are still pending, Boeheim is currently slated to miss the first nine games of ACC play — including matchups with No. 1 North Carolina, No. 4 Duke and No. 6 Virginia — as part of NCAA sanctions for academic misconduct relating to the men’s basketball team.Boeheim, for his part, seems receptive to whatever penalties are levied.“We’ll accept whatever the final rulings are, and we’ll move forward,” he said at ACC media day.Boeheim is more concerned about how the suspension will affect his players than himself. During his suspension, the coach is not allowed to have contact with anyone in the program regarding basketball-related matters. In addition to being unable to attend games, the veteran head coach also can’t participate in practices, talk to players or even enter the Carrier Dome. “I assume you could probably say, 'How’s your life doing?'” Boeheim said, joking about possible interactions with his assistant coaches. “But I don’t think they really want me to ask them that question and I don’t really want to know.”Boeheim said he doesn’t know what he’ll do with his time off, but he believes longtime assistant Mike Hopkins is up to the task of coaching the Orange in his absence.“Mike Hopkins knows our guys,” Boeheim said. “He knows our system. He’s very familiar with everything we want to do.”For redshirt senior guard Michael Gbinije, preparing for play sans-Boeheim couldn't be further from his mind.“My mindset is very short term,” he said. “If you were to ask me who we played in two weeks… I couldn’t tell you.”Record last season: 18-13 (9-9 ACC)Coach: Jim Boeheim.Key newcomers: First-year guard Franklin Howard, first-year guard Malachi Richardson and first-year forward Tyler Lydon.Key departures: Forward Rakeem Christmas, forward B.J. Johnson and forward Chris McCullough.3 players to watch: Redshirt senior guard Trevor Cooney, redshirt senior guard Michael Gbinije and junior forward Tyler Roberson.Projected finish by media: Ninth in ACC.Biggest question mark: Can the team overcome reduced scholarships and other outside noise to put together a solid season?Biggest strength: Syracuse's renowned 2-3 zone is always a tough defense to crack. If the new players acclimate quickly to the system, the Orange could compete in every game this season.When they play UNC: The Orange will host UNC on Jan. 9 at the Carrier Dome and come to Chapel Hill on Feb. 29 for a game at 7 p.m. in the Smith Center.Quotable: “Maybe they’ll just play a lot better, and they won’t need me to come back.” — Jim Boeheim on his team’s potential performance during his suspension.
Syracuse
Compiled by Megan Marenghi
The Louisville basketball team has gained more coverage this past offseason — and not because of its success on the court.In October, five former players and recruits claimed former graduate assistant coach Andre McGee of hiring strippers for parties in a campus dorm. The accusations span from 2010 through 2014, all while embattled Coach Rick Pitino was in charge. The accusations have brought attention away from the court for a team that brought home a national championship just two years ago. But while Pitino’s reputation has been questioned in light of the scandal, his coaching ability and past success are undeniable.Pitino joined the team in 2001 and has led the Cardinals to the Final Four on three different occasions, including a title-winning 2013 season. Alongside North Carolina's Roy Williams, Pitino is the only coach in NCAA history to lead two different programs to at least three Final Fours. After the departure of Terry Rozier and Montrezl Harrell, the Cardinals have a young team this season. Between two transfers and five new first-year players, the Cardinals will need to adjust to playing with an inexperienced team — which will only be exacerbated by scrutiny in the wake of the scandal. Record last season: 27-9 overall, 12-6 ACC Coach: Rick PitinoThree key newcomers: graduate transfer guard Damion Lee (Drexel), graduate transfer guard Trey Lewis (Cleveland State) and first-year forward Raymond Spalding Key departures: guard Terry Rozier and forward Montrezl HarrellThree players to watch: redshirt junior forward Mangok Mathiang, graduate transfer guard Damion Lee and sophomore guard Quentin Snider Projected finish by media: seventh Biggest question mark: This team lacks experience. With only two upperclassman that started their collegiate careers at Louisville — former walk-on David Levitch and Mangok Mathiang — Pitino's team will consist almost entirely of new players. Biggest strength: Pitino's coaching ability. With time, he should be able to fashion this team into one that resembles what many have come to expect out of Louisviile. It's just a question of whether it comes together this season.When they play UNC: The Cardinals host the Tar Heels at 7 p.m. on February 1. Quotable: "We are definitely the mystery team." — graduate transfer guard Damion Lee on the Cardinals this season.
Louisville
Compiled by DTH Sports Graphic by Meggie Cruser, Megan Mallonee, Kameron Southerland and Kelsey Weekman
 ACC Basketball Preview
The Georgia Tech men's basketball team finds itself in a familiar situation — rebuilding in the midst of one of the strongest conferences in the country.After a disappointing 2014-15 campaign, the Yellow Jackets come into the 2015-16 season with a solid squad and higher expectations. They are returning many of their scoring threats from a year ago and have added experience, which will be important down the road.The team will lean on the leadership of senior Marcus Georges-Hunt. The 6-foot-5 guard from College Park, Ga., started in every game he played a year ago and led his team in both scoring and minutes played. He has seen improvement every year at Georgia Tech and looks to take that next step this season. “He brings his offensive talent: driving, dishing, passing. He can do it all," said senior forward Charles Mitchell when talking about his teammate. "And he can also go into the post with his size … overall he just brings a great talent to our team.”  While Georges-Hunt is one of the Yellow Jackets' best options on the court, he is also a leader of the court.  The senior has flourished in the classroom at Georgia Tech, and has made the ACC All-Academic team in both 2013 and 2014. Georgia Tech has struggled to stay competitive in recent years, but behind the leadership of Georges-Hunt, the Yellow Jackets might have what it takes to make it out of the lowest ranks of the ACC this season.Record last season: 12-19 (3-15 ACC) Coach: Brian Gregory Three key newcomers: First-year forward Sylvester Ogbonda, graduate transfer Adam Smith (from Virginia Tech) and redshirt senior forward Nick Jacobs (transfer from Alabama)  Three players to watch: Senior guard Marcus Georges-Hunt, senior forward Charles Mitchell and graduate transfer guard Adam Smith Key departures: Guard Chris Bolden (transferring), center Demarco Cox and forward Robert Sampson Projected finish by media: 13th in ACC Biggest question mark: Will experience lead to success for Georgia Tech? They are expected to start four seniors this season.Biggest strength: The Yellow Jackets biggest strength is their front court, which is composed of three seniors and the team's top two scorers from a season ago. When they play UNC: North Carolina hosts Georgia Tech at noon on Jan. 2. Quotable: “We want to play with control and a chip on our shoulder. I like our team chemistry and what we’ve learned from our mistakes last year. And being more focused and just more mentally tough to fit through battles and adversity.” — Mitchell on the upcoming season. 
Ranked No. 1 in the nation as recently as 2009, Wake Forest basketball has fallen on hard times over the past five seasons, compiling an overall ACC record of 22-64 and failing to reach the NCAA or NIT tournaments in any of those campaigns.  However, there is reason for hope in Winston-Salem as Coach Danny Manning enters his 2nd season on the job. Manning was the NCAA player of the year for Kansas in 1988 and the No. 1 pick in the following NBA Draft.  With all of his accolades, the Greensboro native has brought star-power and energy back to a program that longs to return to the days when the likes of Chris Paul and Tim Duncan wore the black and gold.  Only three scholarship players remain from the previous coaching staff — seniors Codi Miller-McIntyre, Devin Thomas and Andre Washington. Thomas and Miller-McIntyre were Wake Forest’s leading scorers in 2014, and they will look to lead a group of talented underclassmen, including a freshman class that was ranked No. 32 overall by 247Sports, back to the postseason.  Thomas, who has been the Demon Deacons starting center his entire career, said he is ready to see hope turn into reality.  “We've got a lot of good talent,” he said. “This is the year I'm hoping that we can be consistent, to be honest, and to win.” Record last season: 13-19 (5-13 in the ACC)  Coach: Danny Manning  Key newcomers: First-year point guard Bryant Crawford, first-year center Doral Moore and first-year power forward John Collins  Key departure: Darius Leonard  Three players to watch: Senior forward Devin Thomas, senior guard Codi Miller-McIntyre and sophomore forward Konstantinos Mitoglou  Projected finish by the media: 11th in ACC  Biggest question mark: Can Wake Forest win on the road? The Demon Deacons have won just two ACC road games in the last five seasons combined.  Biggest strength: The Demon Deacons will revolve around the Inside-out combination of 3-point shooting big man Konstantinos Mitoglou and bruising center Devin Thomas. When they play UNC: North Carolina will host Wake Forest on Jan. 20.  Quotable: “(As a) former athlete, your body tends to break down and wear down, and a lot of times it's the bench seats are on the concrete and then the floor is a little bit elevated so it's like I'm sitting on a Port-a-Potty, so I may as well stand up or get a bigger chair a lot of times.” — 6-foot-10 Danny Manning on why he sits in a bigger chair during games. 
For the past two seasons, the Virginia men's basketball has dominated regular season play.After claiming the ACC regular season championship in back-to-back seasons, the Cavaliers enter the 2015-16 campaign as the No. 6 team in the nation — Virginia's highest preseason ranking since 1982-83 when Ralph Sampson donned a Virginia uniform.And the key to the Cavaliers' success has been no secret — their stifling defense. In 2014-15, under Coach Tony Bennett’s "Pack-Line" formation, Virginia's defense allowed an average of 51.4 points per game — the lowest in the country. This year, the Cavaliers will have to compensate for the losses of forward Darion Atkins — the ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 2014-15 — and guard Justin Anderson, the team's second-leading scorer from a season ago. But Bennett still has options. Namely, redshirt seniors Malcolm Brogdon and Anthony Gill are returning to head the Cavalier attack. The two were named to the Preseason All-ACC first team and second team, respectively, while Brogdon was voted ACC Preseason Co-Player of the Year. And in the absence of Atkins and Anderson, junior guard London Perrantes and senior center Mike Tobey will both focus on sharpening their aggression on the court with increased workloads. Sophomore guard Marial Shayok is slated to be the primary replacement for Anderson in the starting lineup. But Bennett will also likely turn to redshirt sophomore guard Devon Hall and sophomore forward Isaiah Wilkins. And after sitting out a year ago, redshirt sophomore guard Darius Thompson — a transfer from Tennessee — is eligible to hit the court this season. With such strong depth off the bench, Bennett knows his secondary players are poised for bigger roles. "I think those guys are really hungry for the challenge," he said. And alongside a smothering "Pack-Line" defense and elite play from Brogdon and Gill, Virginia is primed to repeat its dominant display yet again. Record last season: 30-4 (16-2 ACC) Coach: Tony Bennett Key newcomers: Redshirt sophomore guard Darius Thompson (transfer) and first-year forward Jarred Reuter 3 players to watch: Redshirt senior guard Malcolm Brogdon, redshirt senior forward Anthony Gill and junior guard London Perrantes Projected finish by media: Second Biggest question mark: With the loss of Atkins and Anderson, it is unknown how the returning players will step up to maintain Virginia's defensive prowess, as well as which players from the bench will fill in the holes in the starting lineup. Biggest strength: Boasting the nation's best defense a year ago, Virginia’s "Pack-Line" defense has been the main contributor to its regular season success. When they play UNC: The Cavaliers will host the Tar Heels on Feb. 27. Quotable: "I talk about it every year, but I think there's quality depth, at least right now. You could make a case for 10 guys. ... So I think that's got to be a strength of ours." — Bennett on the impact of his team's bench.
Virginia
Pittsburgh men's basketball coach Jamie Dixon is taking a risk this season as he revamps the Panthers roster with the addition of eight new players. From transfer students to first-year players, Pittsburgh is planning to execute new tactics to have a whole new feel as they fight to be competitive in the ACC this upcoming season. They finished the 2014-15 season with a 19 wins, making the transition into this season an easy gateway to make adjustments to the program. The team also returns Cameron Johnson, who missed the last 26 games of the season with a shoulder injury.  The addition of so many new team members could be both a weakness and strength for the Panthers. The team will have to find their groove as they adjust to working as a unit without being overly familiar with each other. Bu the new faces on the court will add a breath of fresh air to a team that has the potential to stand out from the crowd.“It’s been different, there’s no question. I’ve never been in this situation. We’ve always been a team that our classes have been three or four seniors and have always had balanced classes,” Dixon said regarding the influx of new players this season. “With some guys going early, a couple transfers, the suspension we had last year — it’s kind of messed up our balance.”As expected, the first-year players have had some trouble acclimating to the college game, but Dixon said the transfers have adjusted quickly.“They’re new, but they’re not new into college basketball,” Dixon said. “You can see it out there in the practice; it’s the freshman who are struggling most on defense, but the other six guys, especially the three graduate students, they seem to pick things up.”Record last season: 19-15 (8-10 ACC)  Coach: Jamie Dixon  Key newcomers: Junior guard Jonathan Milligan (transfer from Kilgore College), first-year guard Damon Wilson, and graduate student forward Alonzo Nelson-Ododa (transfer from Richmond) Key departures: Forward Durand Johnson, center Tyrone Haughton, and guard Cameron Wright. 3 players to watch: Senior point guard James Robinson, redshirt first-year Cameron Johnson, Junior forward Michael Young Projected finish by media: 10th in ACC. Biggest question mark: This season will be defined by the meshing of new transfer players in with seasoned Panthers, leaving the overall collaboration and unification of the players the key factor in determining the status of Pittsburgh’s upcoming season. Biggest strength: The Pittsburgh Panthers saw a great season last year regarding their offense and managed to rank 30th in adjusted offensive efficiency. Coming back this year with a new and improved roster should only further this accomplishment and the Panther’s offensive skills will continue to prosper throughout the 2015-16 season.  When they play UNC: North Carolina will host the Panthers on Sunday, Feb. 14. Quotable: “I don’t feel like we’re that young of a team even though we have six new players. We’ve got depth this year, which we didn’t have. I always felt depth was the reason why we’re good defensively.” -- Dixon on the transfer students that have joined the Panthers.
Normally when a college basketball team loses four out of its five starters, the next season would be a rebuilding year. But that won’t be the case for Coach Mike Krzyzewski and the defending NCAA Champion Duke men's basketball team. Krzyzewski followed up last year’s No. 1 ranked recruiting class with another highly-ranked group of incoming first-year players that will look to replace some of the production that left the team after the 2014-15 season. “I think they have all the potential to be a really good team,” Coach Krzyzewski said. “They’re unselfish, they work together and they have each other’s back. We just have to put in a system that personalizes their talents, instead of fitting their talents into a certain system.”Former first-year phenoms Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow and Tyus Jones all declared for the 2015 NBA Draft, while senior Quinn Cook graduated and went undrafted. However, the Blue Devils immediately reloaded with four five-star recruits in guard/forward Brandon Ingram, guard Derryck Thornton, guard Luke Kennard and forward Chase Jeter. With the incoming freshman class, Duke has yet another unproven and youthful team with unquestionable talent.Ingram was voted preseason ACC Freshman of the Year and is expected to be an immediate standout. At 6-foot-9 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan, Ingram’s ability to shoot, paired with his explosive drive to the basket, will make him a consistent offensive threat from day one. Sophomore guard Grayson Allen — Duke’s breakout star of the 2015 NCAA tournament — will look to continue his late season progress into the 2015-16 campaign. Allen will try to provide leadership alongside senior forward Amile Jefferson and graduate center Marshall Plumlee as the main veteran players on this fledgling team. Jefferson said the newcomers have already blended well with the team, and that they are already building a cohesive unit on the court.“It’s really about knowing your team and knowing how to get the best out of everybody,” said Jefferson. “We can lean on each other for support. Helping (the first-years) along the way, being there to push them, I think that’s how you make a team that trusts each other.”Plumlee admits that comparisons of last season’s first-year-laden team and their current team are inevitable, but he said he thinks this team can stand on its own merit.“Inherently no one (first-year) class is the same,” Plumlee said of the comparison. “Even though they’re not the same, that’s not a bad thing. They bring some new things to the table.”Doubters will call this team young and inexperienced, but Krzyzewski will look to his senior core to make his team a title contender. Record last season: 35-4 (15-3 ACC), 2nd in ACC Coach: Mike Krzyzewski  Key newcomers: Guard/forward Brandon Ingram, guard Derryck Thornton and forward Chase Jeter.  Key departures: Center Jahlil Okafor, forward Justise Winslow and guard Tyus Jones  3 players to watch: Sophomore guard Grayson Allen, first-year guard/forward Brandon Ingram and first-year guard Derryck Thornton  Projected finish by media: 3rd in ACC  Biggest question mark: This is another raw Duke roster with loads of unproven talent at the collegiate level. Getting quality minutes from their bench players could be a concern as well. Biggest strength: Krzyzewski is a young Duke team’s biggest asset. If he can get his current team to mesh by tournament time like he did last year, opponents will have their hands full. When they play UNC: North Carolina will host Duke on Feb. 17, and the Blue Devils will host UNC on Mar. 5  Quotable: “Once we get into games, hopefully we’ll see a growth in November and December, before January, where they’ll all look more like upperclassmen.” — Krzyzewski on how the first-year players will adjust.
This year, Miami is determined not to be denied.The Hurricanes enter the 2015-16 season returning their top four scorers from a team that won 25 games and barely missed the NCAA Tournament a year ago.“We should have been in last year,” Coach Jim Larrañaga said at ACC media day.Miami won a number of big games during the 2014-15 season, including a November win against Florida and a victory over eventual champion Duke in January. Yet the Hurricanes’ hopes of a tournament berth were derailed by losses to Green Bay and Eastern Kentucky.Many of the players who made those upsets possible return — and they are hoping the inexplicable losses bring the necessary experience to avoid repeating the same mistakes.The backcourt’s assumed starters, redshirt seniors Angel Rodriguez and Sheldon McClellan, accounted for 36 percent of Miami's points in the 2014-15 season. This season, the two former-Big 12 transfers — who formed a rivalry when at Kansas State and Texas, respectively — are set to take charge of the team.“I guess it’s one of those cases that if he’s against you, you won’t like him very much," Rodriguez said of McClellan. "If he’s with you, you love him.”The Hurricanes also return senior center Tonye Jekiri, who led Miami with 1.38 blocks per game and topped the ACC in rebounds after grabbing 9.9 boards per contest a season ago. Larrañaga said Jekiri — who also finished third on the team in scoring — seems to expand areas of his game each season.“He’s improved his offense dramatically, and he might be playing in the NBA,” Larrañaga said. “He’s rebounding at a high level and scoring at a much higher rate.”Although relatively thin in the frontcourt, the Hurricanes added depth with first-year center Ebuka Izundu, who joins fellow first-years Anthony Lawrence Jr. and Mike Robinson on the roster. Redshirt junior forward Kamari Murphy — who is eligible this season after transferring from Oklahoma State — rounds out a talented but unproven team.And with so many returning players who fell short a year ago, Miami is not lacking in confidence to reach the NCAA Tournament this season.“We have the talent. We have the maturity,” Rodriguez said. “We have the veteran guys and everybody’s buying in and we know what it takes.”Record last season: 25-13 (10-8 ACC)Coach: Jim Key newcomers: First-year center Ebuka Izundu, first-year guard Mike Robinson and redshirt junior Kamari Murphy (transfer)Key departures: Guard Manu Lecomte, guard Deandre Burnett and forward Omar Sherman3 players to watch: Redshirt senior Angel Rodriguez, redshirt senior Sheldon McClellan and senior center Tonye JekiriProjected finish by media: fifthBiggest question mark: Miami has struggled in its ability to shoot from distance. The Hurricanes shot 35.8 percent from behind the arc a year ago, but that number includes a 45.6 percent mark from the now-departed Lecomte. The only proven 3-point threat to return for the Hurricanes is junior guard Davon Reed, who shot 45.7 percent from deep in 2014-15.Biggest strength: The Hurricanes will rely on their veteran backcourt, led by McClellan and Rodriguez. The two former Big 12 transfers are now redshirt seniors and led Miami in points and assists a season ago.When they play UNC: The Hurricanes will visit Chapel Hill to play the Tar Heels at 1 p.m. on Feb. 20.Quotable: “This year is a whole different team. We’ve been around each other. We’ve argued many times. We’ve made each other happy many times. It’s a whole different team this year.” — Rodriguez on the chemistry of the team.
Buzz Williams’ rebuilding project continues. Williams’ first season as Virginia Tech’s head coach was ugly. The team showed moments of promise, such as its ACC tournament win over Wake Forest, but its season was plagued by injuries and inconsistencies on defense and at the free-throw line. “Some days we didn’t have enough bodies to practice,” Williams said. “The bodies we did have didn’t need to practice. We needed to try to get healthy enough to play the next day.”In addition, eight players have left the program since Williams took over in 2014, three upon the conclusion of last season. The most notable loss for the Hokies is guard Adam Smith, who transferred to Georgia Tech. Smith played in all 33 games last season, averaged 13.4 points per game and led the team in 3-point shooting percentage (42.4). Still, there is a positive vibe surrounding the program in Blacksburg, Va. The Hokies will count on former Maryland guard Seth Allen, who is eligible to play after sitting out last season per NCAA transfer rules. Allen averaged 13.4 points per game in his last season at Maryland.  Williams said he is excited about the pairing of Allen with junior guard Devin Wilson, the only remaining scholarship player on the Hokies roster from the previous coaching staff. Wilson averaged 30 minutes of play and 6.5 points per game during the 2014-2015 season.  “You put Devin and Seth on the same team, it’s not quite fair. Their symmetry has been really good, really good,” Williams said.  The Hokies are equipped with young, talented players and a coach with a history of success. But the team has a lot of work ahead of them if they want to improve upon last year’s 11-22 (2-16 ACC) record. Last year’s record: 11-22 (2-16 ACC)  Head coach: Buzz Williams  Key newcomers: Redshirt junior Seth Allen (Maryland transfer), guard/forward Chris Clarke and redshirt junior forward Zach LeDay (South Florida transfer) Key departures: Guard Adam Smith, guard Malik Muller and forward Joey van Zegeren  3 players to watch: Sophomore guard Justin Bibbs, sophomore guard Ahmed Hill and junior guard Devin Wilson  Projected finish by media: 14th in ACC  Biggest question mark: Defense. Last season, the Hokies’ defense was last in the conference in field goal percentage allowed (47 percent), 3-pointers allowed (140), and second-to-last in points allowed per game (72.8). With another undersized group this year, it is questionable whether there will be improvement.  Biggest strength: Virginia Tech was ranked No. 23 in the nation in 3-point percentage. The Hokies should continue this success with the return of sophomore guard Justin Bibbs.  When they play UNC: Virginia Tech hosts the Tar Heels on Jan. 24.  Quotable: “The Hokies are so starving for something, for somebody, somehow. Let’s create something. We need everybody to be a leader in their own way, and (Allen) has that ability.” –Williams on the ability of redshirt junior Seth Allen.
N.C. State is preparing for life after Trevor Lacey.Lacey, who led the team in points and minutes in the 2014-15 season, decided to forgo his remaining eligibility and enter the 2015 NBA Draft — where the former All-ACC standout went undrafted.Despite this loss, N.C. State is looking to improve on its performance from a year ago, when the eighth-seeded Wolfpack upset top-seeded Villanova in the NCAA Tournament en route to a Sweet 16 berth.With only two incoming first-years on the roster, N.C. State’s experience will prove to be one of its biggest assets. Six upperclassmen are returning to the squad, including West Virginia transfer Terry Henderson — who will return to the court after sitting out the 2014-15 season because of NCAA transfer rules. Coach Mark Gottfried said he likes the teamwork among this year’s team.Relying on this chemistry won’t be enough, though, as the Wolfpack looks to replace the leader it lost in Lacey.That role could be filled by junior guard Anthony "Cat" Barber. Voted as a Preseason Second-Team All-ACC member this season, the Wolfpack's top returning scorer averaged 12.1 points per game in his sophomore campaign, adding 3.7 assists per contest.This season, the junior has set the stage for a breakout campaign.In its exhibition game, N.C. State defeated Cal State-Los Angeles 71-54 and shot 40 percent from the floor. The team showed its athleticism, recording 21 fast-break points — more than doubling the Golden Eagles' total.But the standout was Barber, who led the team with 21 points and six assists in 30 minutes of play. And when the regular season comes, the combo guard will look to do more of the same. Record last season: 22-14 (10-8 ACC)Coach: Mark GottfriedKey newcomers: First-year wing Shaun Kirk, first-year wing Maverick Rowan and redshirt junior guard Terry Henderson (transfer) Key departures: Trevor Lacey, Ralston Turner and Kyle Washington3 Players to watch: Sophomore forward Abdul-Malik Abu, junior forward Lennard Freeman and junior guard Anthony "Cat" BarberProjected finish by media: EighthBiggest question mark: The team lacks a clear leader and will need to fill the void left by Trevor Lacey.Biggest strength: With a majority of its roster upperclassmen, N.C. State’s experience will be paramount in any unforeseen success.When they play UNC: The Wolfpack travels to the Smith Center to face UNC at noon on

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