As the college basketball season approaches, conferences are releasing their preseason rankings and in this one, the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) 2023-24 rankings have been published publicly. Miami and Virginia tied for first last year in the regular season, with Duke winning the conference tournament last season.
1. Duke Blue Devils
Duke returns their big man and potential All-American in Kyle Filipowski, while they lose Dereck Lively II and Dariq Whitehead to the NBA Draft. They also bring in the second-best freshmen class, headlined by Jared McCain and T.J. Power, both ranked top 20th nationally. The lone transfer they brought in is from Stanford, Neal Begovich. This should be a national contender and a reason why Duke got 44 first-place votes out of 51 possible for the Atlantic Coast Conference 2023-24 preseason rankings.
2. Miami Hurricanes
Miami lost their best player from last year, guard Isaiah Wong to the NBA Draft, but they heavily recruited transfers to help cover that up. Miami finished the season last year with a share of the ACC regular season title with the Virginia Cavaliers. They gained Matthew Cleveland from Florida State, he was a former four-star from the class of 2022. They lost Favour Aire to Penn State, Danilo Jovanovich to Louisville, and Anthony Walker to Indiana in addition to losing Wong. They enroll one four-star and two three-star freshmen, not a class that amazes anyone, but it moves the needle. Miami did receive five first-place votes to be on top of Duke.
3. North Carolina Tar Heels
Coming off the most disappointing season in recent memory in Chapel Hill, the Tar Heels will try to rebound in 2023, and the Atlantic Coast Conference thinks they will as well, receiving one first-place vote. They lost Caleb Love, Puff Johnson, D’Marco Dunn, Dontrez Styles, Will Shaver, Justin McKoy, and Tyler Nickel all to the transfer portal. They did however gain Harrison Ingram, James Okonkwo, Jaelyn Withers, Paxson Wojcik, and Cormac Ryan from the transfer portal. Harrison Ingram averaged double-digit points last season with Stanford, while shooting effectively from the field (40.8%) and from deep (31.9%). Cormac Ryan is a defensive specialist the Tar Heels needed and a long-range sniper as he shot 34.4% from there last season with Notre Dame. The Tar Heels freshmen class is highlighted by five-star guard Elliot Cadeau, as he enrolled at North Carolina a year early. The Tar Heels should give Miami and Duke a run for their money.
4. Virginia Cavaliers
Virginia looks to rebound after losing to Furman in the first round of the NCAA tournament last season and it will not be easy, as they lose Armaan Franklin, Isaac Traudt, Kadin Shederick, Jayden Gardner, Kihei Clark, and Ben Vander Plas to the transfer portal and the NBA Draft. That is four of five starters they have to replace from a first-place Atlantic Coast Conference team a year ago. They gained Jacob Groves from Oklahoma, Jordan Minor from Merrimack, Andrew Rohde from St. Thomas, and Dante Harris from Georgetown. Minor averaged 17.4 points per game and nine rebounds a game while hitting on more than 50% of his shots, so he will have to be a contributor for the Cavaliers this year, as well as Andrew Rohde (17.2 ppg). Their freshmen class ranks top 30 nationally, sitting at 26, as they brought in two four-stars and two three-stars, headlined by Elijah Gertrude. Virginia earned the last first-place vote, tied with North Carolina for the 3rd-most. Virginia is going to have to pull out every game they must win in the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2023-24.
5. Clemson Tigers
Clemson returns three of their starting five from last year, losing Hunter Tyson and Brevin Galloway to the NBA Draft. They also lost a good portion of their bench including Ben Middlebrooks transferring to North Carolina State, but they did also steal Jack Clark from the Wolfpack in return. They gain from the portal Bas Leyte from UNC Greensboro, Joseph Girard from Syracuse, and Jack Heidbreder from the Air Force in addition to Jack Clark. Girard was by far their best addition, as he was Syracuse’s best guard, averaging 16 points per game on 38% from deep. Heidbreder is a nice addition as well from Air Force, as he averaged 15 points per game on 39.9% from deep and 48.8% from the field. Clemson will be just fine and may surprise a lot of fans.
6. Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Wake Forest missed the tournament last year, despite being a solid team two years ago. They return two starters from last year’s starting five, losing Tyree Appleby, Daivien Williams, and Bobi Klintman. Davion Bradford transferred to New Mexico State, Lucas Taylor transferred to Georgia State, Robert McCray V transferred to Jacksonville, and Grant Van Beveren graduated. They gained Abramo Canka from UCLA, Efton Reid, and Hunter Sallis from Gonzaga, and Kevin Miller from Central Michigan from the transfer portal. Their freshmen class is highlighted by Parker Friedrichsen, as he de-committed from Notre Dame when Mike Brey announced his resignation from the Irish. This may not be a good year for the Demon Deacons, with a lot of question marks on the roster.
7. North Carolina State Wolfpack
The Wolfpack did make the NCAA tournament last year as an 11-seed, losing to Creighton, who went on to go onto the Final Four. This is going to be a rough year for the Wolfpack as they lose four of their five starters from last year’s team, including their best player, Terquavion Smith. They only return Casey Morsell from the starting five and L.J Thomas from their bench who played reasonable minutes. They acquired Ben Middlebrooks, Mohamed Diarra, Michael O’Connell, MJ Rice, Kam Woods, Jayden Taylor, and DJ Horne from the transfer portal. They only recruited one freshman for the 2023-24 class, and it is a four-star small forward, Dennis Parker Jr. I have no idea why the Wolfpack are ranked so highly after losing an entire team, but this is a rebuilding year for them.
8. Virginia Tech Hokies
The Hokies missed the NCAA tournament last season, as they ended their season losing to Cincinnati in the NIT (Not in tournament) tournament. They lost their two best players Justyn Mutts and Grant Basile, as they combined for around 30 points per game last year. Darius Maddox is the only notable transfer who played reasonable minutes off the bench that was left in the transfer portal. The Hokies acquired Robbie Beran, Tyler Nickel, and Mekhi Long from the transfer portal, while also welcoming freshman Brandon Rechsteiner (four-star) and Jaydon Young (three-star) to the team. The Hokies should be alright and may finish middle of the pack, in a fighting chance for a bid.
9. Pittsburgh Panthers
Pittsburgh comes off a season in which they exceeded expectations, making the NCAA tournament and advancing to the second weekend. They return two of their five starters, losing Jamarius Burton, Nelly Cummings, and Greg Elliot. Nike Sibande also graduated as a big bench piece for the Pittsburgh Panthers. They bring in a good freshmen class, ranked in the top 30, headlined by three four-stars, Papa Kante, Jaland Lowe, and Carlton Carrington, while adding transfers Ishmael Leggett and Zack Austin. The Atlantic Coast Conference committee may be undervaluing this group, and they get a chance to show it starting next week.
10. Syracuse Orange
A lost season last season for Syracuse, causing legendary head coach Jim Boeheim to retire and Adrian Autry to step into the ring of fire. They return three of five starters, as Jesse Edwards transferred to West Virginia and Joseph Girard III transferred to Clemson. They went chaotic in the transfer portal picking up Kyle Cuff Jr, Naheem McLeod, Chance Westry, and JJ Starling. This team is still in rebuild mode, but the future looks brighter than in past years.
11. Florida State Seminoles
Another disappointing season for the Seminoles and it does not look like they will turn the page, as they lose Matthew Cleveland to Miami, Naheem McLeod to Syracuse, and Caleb Mills to Memphis. They enrolled freshman Taylor Bowen, a six-foot-nine four-star small forward. Florida State also acquired three players from the transfer portal Josh Nickelberry, Jamir Watkins, and Primo Spears. Primo will be a big addition to the Seminoles, as he averaged 16 points per game, but struggled from deep, shooting 30%. Another year of seeing what they got at Florida State.
12. Boston College Eagles
Boston College returns three starters from last year’s starting five, ultimately losing Makai Ashton Langford, though to graduation and the NBA Draft. Quinten Post may emerge to the starting guard spot, as he averaged 15.1 points per game on 42.6% shooting from deep and 53.9% from the field. They lost another key guy in Demarr Langford Jr., as he committed to UCF, he was a former four-star. They did replace Makai or Langford with Charleston Southern transfer Claudell Harris Jr.; he averaged 17.4 points per game on 46% shooting from the field. The Boston College Eagles will continue to find a way to compete in the middle of the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2023-24, but it may not be this year.
13. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
The good news is that the Yellow Jackets return four of their five starters from last season, the bad news is they lost their entire bench to graduation, NBA Draft, or transfer portal. Ja’Von Franklin is the lone starter who graduated, and in addition, the Yellow Jackets added six transfers to join them next season, headlined by Tyzhaun Claude, who averaged 15.4 points per game while hitting on more than 50% of his shots for Western Carolina last season. All their freshmen are no-star recruits, so it’s hard to say who is notable right now, we will know more by December and January.
14. Louisville Cardinals
Capping off a program-worst for Louisville, Kenny Payne and the Cardinals are ready to turn the page and start competing in the middle of the pack in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Three starters return for the Cardinals from last year’s starting five, as EJ Ellis transferred to Arkansas and Jaelyn Withers transferred to North Carolina. They also lost Kamari Lands to Arizona State, he was a good minute’s guy off the bench and averaged almost six points per game. Louisville enrolls the sixth-best class in the country, headlined by a four-star, 25th-ranked player in the class, Dennis Evans. Payne also pulled some strings and added three transfers, Tre White from USC, Skyy Clark from Illinois, and Danilo Jovanovich from Miami. Payne is giving Louisville fans some hope and rightfully so after a hard season to watch for their fans.
15. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
A new era in South Bend begins, as a new voice is going to be heard for the first time in 23 years. Micah Shrewsberry comes in as the new Irish head coach as Mike Brey announced he will not be the head coach of the Fighting Irish this season. Shrewsberry led Penn State to the second round of the NCAA tournament last year and hopes to bring that to South Bend. Leaving Notre Dame are Nate Laszewski, Cormac Ryan, JJ Starling, Dane Goodwin, Marcus Hammond, Trey Wertz, Robby Carmody, Ven-Allen Lubin, and Dom Campbell. That is four of their five starters from last season and 50% of their bench. Notre Dame also lost a couple of recruits including Parker Friedrichsen and Brady Dunlap, but they were able to retain Markus Burton to stay home. They added Logan Imes, Braeden Shrewsberry, Carey Booth, Kebba Njie, Julian Roper, and Tae Davis to the team when Shrewsberry took over. It will be a rebuilding year, but hopefully some bright sides to it unlike what Louisville dealt with.
These are the Atlantic Coast Conference committee’s rankings for 2023-24, not my own just to give a clear head up. I break down who they lose, who they gain, any coaching changes, and how they did the previous season. The conference previews should be out shortly.
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