Late with posting both of these – apologies – but it’s only fitting that in the 41-year history of preseason ACC rankings, UNC and Duke would be the first to tie for the top spot. What’s disturbing is that Duke garnered more first place votes, yet tied when it came down to total points. I know they just signed Kyrie Irving and all, but c’mon, he’s not playing this year.
Actually what’s striking to me is that both of these teams are at the top with huge expectations of their current freshmen. Granted UNC has arguably the best recruiting class in the country (some weird folks might argue Kentucky), they has very little experience. Duke has a 17-year-old point guard who should be good, and Mason Plumlee, the supposedly more talented Plumlee brother.
Side thought: Wouldn’t it be great if the Wears vs. the Plumlees became a big rivalry over the next three years?
Anyway, both teams will be shorthanded in the backcourt. It’s my suspicion that Andre Dawkins (the young PG) will get a lot of time at the position, even after John Scheyer ended up playing the spot for them a lot last year. That puts a freshman PG in the mix for Duke, never a good thing in the ACC. Usually, if a PG does relatively well as a freshmen in this league, then we all knew about him well before he sets foot on the court. This is not exactly true in this case, considering Dawkins rushed to graduate early after Elliot Williams transferred. Man. How much of a factor do you think Coach K was in getting that to happen?
The Heels will have sophomore Larry Drew II, who saw some regular, though limited, minutes backing up Ty Lawson, and freshman Dexter Strickland. Strickland is ranked higher than Dawkins as far as I know, and is actually a more natural two guard.
Between Dawkins and Strickland, it’s probably a toss-up. I don’t like putting tons of merit into unproven freshmen, so let’s just say they cancel each other out. After that we have a Drew II vs. Scheyer match-up at point. I might actually give the nod to Scheyer, who started more games and generally played a bigger role as a PG, though I think Drew II has more upside.
Regardless, there are a lot of question marks on the top two preseason teams in the ACC. Are these indicators it might be a down year for the league? Tough to tell. After a few months it will be more evident which conferences are the best. The Big 10 looks strangely good this year, but I digress. The best conference argument must be later by necessity. Now’s time to get ready for Thursday night football.