Yeah, of course football season is in full swing but about this time of year, people around here really start getting hyped up about basketball season. After all, not many places have the storied history like we have in the Triangle.
I figured with the season just a few weeks away, it can’t be too soon to preview Duke, North Carolina, and NC State.
Duke is of course coming off their fifth national championship last season, and lost a lot of key pieces from that team. However, Coach K has done a great job rebuilding his team, and will have a great shot at hanging another banner this year. With additions like sharp-shooting Luke Kennard and big man Brandon Ingram, the ‘Devils will instantly have offensive contributions. Add in Grayson Allen who was the main reason Duke won the championship game last year, along with Marshall Plumlee, and the Blue Devils are once again a very solid team, looking at a top-five ranking.
As for the Tar Heels, well, they could be just as good as anyone in the country this season. They return basically everybody except for slasher JP Tokoto who declared for the NBA Draft last season. Marcus Paige is one of the best players in the country, and will be a finalist for the Cousy Award once again this season. His sharp-shooting abilities will be key for Carolina, and will probably be a constant. I think Carolina can be as good as their big men let them be. If Brice Johnson, Kennedy Meeks, and Isaiah Hicks are contributing like they are capable, the sky is the limit for the ‘Heels.
Justin Jackson should be huge on the wing for the Tar Heels, too. The sophomore was coming into his own at the end of last year, and provides yet another weapon for the Carolina offense. Expect the ‘Heels to hover around the top spot in the polls this year.
NC State lost Trevor Lacey to the NBA Draft, and Ralston Turner to graduation, and both of them will really hurt the Wolfpack. However, the return of Cat Barber and Abdul-Malik Abu will provide some steadiness offensively for State. The ‘Pack return the Martin twins as well, Cody and Caleb, who showed glimmers of promise last season. A trip back to the NCAA Tournament would be a success for the Wolfpack this season.
Mid-November is just around the corner. I love ACC football, but there’s nothing like ACC basketball.