April 12, 2017 Louisville, KY. (Analyzed Sports)
College Basketball: Early 2017-2018 ACC Outlook
The Madness is over and the ACC took a hard hit in March. Only the eventual National Champions made it pass the second weekend. Is this a sign for things to come? The answer to that is probably not. Next year the Atlantic Coast Conference will be loaded as usual. Maybe it’s too early but let’s take a peek into next season and the top contenders.
The amount of talented depth on the Cardinals roster is just plain silly and scary for opponents. Donovan Mitchell is weighing ongoing pro, if he returns; it’ll be tough for the younger wing players to find adequate playing time. Five star recruit figures to play a huge role if Mitchell leaves. While, there’s almost no chance stud freshman Malik Williams has a starting job in the front court he should aid scoring explosion off the bench. Dwayne Sutton averaged 12.0 points and 7.7 rebounds per game as a freshman at UNC-Asheville last season, and he’ll probably rank eighth in minutes played at Louisville.
The Cardinals played their best this past season when they were knocking down threes. Donovan’s possible departure would open the door for Adel or King to become the team’s go-to scorer. Adel showed flashes of star quality and King came in the program as a top recruit. The Cardinals look strong with Mitchell out of the picture, but they would likely be the preseason favorite to win the ACC if he returns for one more year.
Seven Blue Devils played at least six minutes in each of their NCAA tournament games, bad news up to six of those guys could not be on the roster next season. Luke Kennard or Grayson Allen are most likely to surprise the Cameron Crazies by coming back. Their NBA ceiling is low and more time to refine their games may be needed. Frank Jackson has NBA attributes and could be seeking the NBA. Either way, Duke is not going to look much like the team we spent the past 12 months discussing during an up and down season.
Duke has been a preseason Top 10 team in nine straight years and hasn’t opened a season outside the Top 15 of the AP poll since 1995. In the other words Duke will be fine no matter who leaves or returns. Duke already signed two major players and are among the favorites for a few other top 10 recruits. The nightmare scenario where Mike Krzyzewski misses out on all three of those targets are just hopes in ACC foes minds. The Blue Devils brand is too huge not to sign at least one of the top targets. Duke will be back in the Top 10 once again.
Luke Maye’s breakout in the second weekend of the tournament eased the minds of many UNC fans. There were concerns about North Carolina’s front court line-up for next season after Isaiah Hicks and Kennedy Meeks both. Now that Maye looks like a solid starter at power forward, there’s a chance the Tar Heels make a run to a third consecutive Final Four. If nothing else, they’re going to have one of the best, deepest back courts in the nation. Seventh Woods and Brandon Robinson ought to be significant contributors as sophomores off the bench with Jalek Felton getting just enough experience to become a star in 2018-19.