By Connor Dietrich
As the college football season continues, and as it becomes clearer who will be playing in bowl games, many fans look forward to the next season of college sports. The NCAA Division-I men and women’s basketball started Tuesday, and for many fans, there was no more talk of college football the moment the ball was tipped Thursday night. Many of those cheer for teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Arguably the best conference in basketball, the ACC has at least one team in 11 of the past 18 Final Fours. Conference play is a tough road that leads there, including a regular season of multiple rivalries like NC State vs. Wake Forest, or Duke vs North Carolina, which is frequently referred to as one of America’s greatest sports rivalries. That’s including professional sports as well. Easy to say that the ACC is going to be the conference to watch for the 2018-2019 season.
Before the season tip-off, 7 ACC teams started their season in the Top-25 of the AP Poll- including three of which are in the top 10. It’s clear that this conference is set up to be not only one of the toughest, but possibly one of the best displays of basketball in college history.
Highlighted by young teams like No. 4 Duke, there is a lot of anticipation of what this conference is going to provide the basketball fans with this season.
Regarding youth, 18 of ESPN’s top-100 recruits went to an ACC school this year. Four were in the top ten, including the top three (No. 1 R.J. Barrett, No. 2 Zion Williamson, and No. 3 Cam Reddish) singing with the Blue Devils to play for legendary head coach Mike Krzyzewski.
Given this, it may seem a clear landslide for the Blue Devils to win the ACC this season, especially with the recent trend of NBA draftees only playing a year in college before declaring for the NBA Draft.
Nonetheless, experience is also a key part of a good basketball team. Players like North Carolina forward Luke Maye- who was a walk on for the team in 2015, and has since made a clear name for himself after a game-winning shot against Kentucky on the way to North Carolina’s 2017 NCAA tournament victory- exemplify this. According to CBS’s top 100 (and one) players for the 2018-19 season, Maye holds the third ranking. 16 ACC players are on that list.
ACC conference play is not set to start until New Year’s Day with Notre Dame at No. 15 Virginia Tech, but there are plenty non-conference matchups involving ACC teams that will not disappoint.
One of which was Tuesday, where No. 4 Duke faced No. 2 Kentucky in Indianapolis. It was a blowout- Duke won 118-84. For those who watched the game, it was made clear that the style and skill of Duke’s star freshmen recruits are something to watch throughout the season.
Other non-conference matchups to watch include No. 10 Michigan St. vs. Louisville on Nov. 27, No. 8 North Carolina vs. No. 19 Michigan on Nov. 28, No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 8 North Carolina on Dec. 22, among others.
NCAA basketball is back, and the road to the Final Four has begun. Teams from conferences like the ACC are look forward to their season, and hope that come March, that they can cut the net, watch their One Shining Moment, and hoist the championship trophy in the air.
Edited by Garrett Jones | firstname.lastname@example.org