BOZICH | Post-NBA Draft decision ACC 2017 basketball predictions - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Post-NBA Draft decision ACC 2017 basketball predictions

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Where does Louisville project in the ACC 2017 basketball race now that the NBA Draft decisions are final? Where does Louisville project in the ACC 2017 basketball race now that the NBA Draft decisions are final?

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Now is the time to take the first serious look at the 2017 Atlantic Coast Conference basketball race.

Now that we know that half of the 12 underclassmen who considered jumping to the NBA are returning to school. (Never say I'm too negative. I could have said that half are not returning to college basketball.)

Now that we know the ACC will return seven of its top 20 scorers, 10 of its top 20 rebounders, three of its top 10 assists guys and half of its top 10 in three-point field goals made.

Now that we know the league will add three Top 10 recruiting classes as well as four more ranked in the Top 21 by Scout.com.

And, of course, now that we know what ESPN thinks about the strength and sizzle of these teams by how they were scheduled in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

Ready to print, clip, paste and remind me how silly this will look by next February?

I thought so.

1. Duke -- The Blue Devils will be more than the top-ranked team in this league, they'll be the top-ranked team in America, the wise-guy pick to give Mike Krzyzewski his sixth NCAA title -- and the second for junior Grayson Allen. He returns as the frontrunner for ACC player of the year -- unless Allen is overtaken by Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum or another one of Coach K's one-and-done recruits.

2. North Carolina -- Nobody benefited from the new NBA early entry procedure more than the Tar Heels after Justin Jackson and Kennedy Meeks made their sensible U-turns to Chapel Hill. Add a Top 10 recruiting class to three other returning McDonald's all-Americans as well as hugs and kisses from NCAA investigators and there's no reason for Michael Jordan to cry.

3. Louisville -- The loss of Chinanu Onuaku means the Cards will be down their top three scorers from last season -- again. No Onuaku means more Raymond Spalding -- and he'll have to prove that he can own the paint with help from Anas Mahmoud and Mangok Mathiang. Ranking the Cards third is a vote of confidence in Donovan Mitchell, Quentin Snider and freshman V.J. King.

4. Virginia -- Ken Pomeroy ranks the Cavaliers ahead of the Cardinals. So does John Gasaway of ESPN. Everybody likes the Cavaliers even though they're losing ACC player of the year Malcolm Brogdon, top rebounder Anthony Gill and center Mike Tobey. Why? Point guard London Perrantes returns and Tony Bennett signed his best recruiting class. Remember this: Bennett is a system coach -- and his talented guys will need time to learn how to defend and take smart shots.

5. Pittsburgh -- It was fashionable to bash Pitt's hiring of former Vandy coach Kevin Stallings because, A.) Stallings will turn 56 in October; B) Vandy fans were eager for Stallings to depart, and, C) Stallings has never been a big-time recruiter or salesman. But the man is solid at Xs and Os as well as player development -- and Pitt returns a solid nucleus led by Michael Young and Jamal Artis.

6. Syracuse -- The unexpected Final Four run by the Orange doesn't look as wonderful these days because it likely inspired freshman guard Malachi Richardson to leave for the NBA. But dismiss Jim Boeheim at your own risk, especially with a development of Tyler Lydon and Tyler Roberson -- and the arrival of stud freshman point guard Tyus Battle.

7. Miami -- The Hurricanes will always sniff an NCAA Tournament bid because Jim Larranaga is a masterful coach, who upgraded his recruiting last season by adding a pair of Top 40 guys. But Miami will miss a top 10 scorer (Sheldon McClellan), top 10 rebounder (Tonye Jekiri) and top 5 playmaker (Angel Rodriguez).

8. Virginia Tech -- Buzz Williams did a majestic job in Blacksburg last season. Zach LeDay and Seth Allen will keep the line moving for the Hokies. It's getting to the next tier of the ACC that won't be so easy for Williams.

9. Florida State -- As usual, Leonard Hamilton has the league's third-leading returning scorer in sophomore Dwayne Bacon as well as a solid veteran in Xavier Rathan-Mayes. Add a Top 20 recruit -- Jonathan Isaac, who is 6 feet 9 -- and the Seminoles will dance on the NCAA Tournament bubble all winter.

10. Notre Dame -- This is lower that most forecasts, but I think guard Demetrius Jackson was one of the three best players in the league last season. Zach Auguste was the top rebounder. Steve Vasturia, V.J. Beachem and Bonzie Colson are nice pieces, but you don't win big in the ACC with three nice pieces. The Irish have lost a lot of veteran talent from a pair of Elite Eight teams the last two seasons.

11. Clemson -- Jaron Blossomgame's surprising decision to pull out of the NBA Draft makes him the ACC's second-leading returning scorer -- and the only one other than Allen to finish in the Top 10. The Tigers should also benefit from returning to refurbished Littlejohn Coliseum on campus. Well, actually they've played on campus for many years and finished in the second half of the league. Expect that to happen again.

12. Wake Forest -- Danny Manning has a nice point guard in Bryant Matthews. He has an interesting big man in Doral Moore, a 7-2 sophomore. But he still doesn't have a Tim Duncan, Chris Paul or Jeff Teague.

13. North Carolina State -- Assistant coach Bobby Lutz, the best Xs and Os guy on Mark Gottfried's staff, has been bumped into an administrative role so the Wolfpack could hire another recruiter. Cat Barber, the best player, left for the NBA. Twins Caleb and Cody Martin transferred to Nevada. (Nevada?) It's not the vibe of a program heading in the right direction.

14. Boston College -- Yes, BC has not won an ACC game since March 7, 2015, but Jimmy Christian is a solid coach who suffered by playing many underclassmen last season and has a nice piece in Jerome Robinson.

15. Georgia Tech -- Traded Brian Gregory for Josh Pastner and lost four of its top players from a team that won eight league games? Mark Price and John Salley aren't walking through that door.

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