North Carolina will be defending National Champions....but their team could look drastically different. So it goes in Chapel Hill. But, who will be there to challenge the Heels for the ACC crown and the national scene?? Here is a quick rundown of the ACC's best and some other schools that are ready to cut down the nets in next year's Final Four.
NORTH CAROLINA. Of course, all depends on who is coming back. It sounds as if Sean May is returning...Rashad McCants is leaving....and Marvin Williams may come back. Other than that...who knows. But, as live is in Chapel Hill, you gotta bring in some fresh faces and Carolina has a few in Hansbrough, Green, Ginyard and Frasor.
New Dookie to hate: Josh McRoberts
DUKE. The Devils will lose Daniel Ewing...and that is huge. Remember, Coach K signed Shaun Livingston to take the reigns over next year...but he is now a Clipper. So freshman Paulas may have to get in there and play some big minutes. That front line should be stacked for Duke. All-ACC performers JJ Redick and Sheldon Williams will return. Redick really needs to work on his "with the ball" game. I’ve found that JJ is easiest to guard when he has the ball. It is when he’s running around those screens that he’s tough to deal with. The biggest addition in the ACC will come from high school player of the year Josh McRoberts who will form a very tough front line with Sheldon.
MARYLAND. I think the Terps will bounce back from their disappointing 2005 season...even without Gilchrist. Cander-Medley, the Terps leading scorer, will be back....as will Chris McCray. Sterling Ledbetter will take Gilchrist's spot. Gary Williams must instill confidence back to this program. They won the 2002 NCAA title....then missed the tournament 3 seasons later.
MIAMI. The Canes could be for real. After making a pleasantly surprising debut in the ACC...they return Diaz and Hite....the second and third leading scorers in the ACC. Anthony Harris and Anthony King will be back. They lose Frisby....but should have enough talent to keep improving in the conference.
WAKE FOREST. Chris Paul will most likely jump to the NBA and be a very high draft pick. The Deacs will also lose Downey, Levy and Daneluis. Eric Williams and Justin Gray should be back. Kevin Swinton could come in and start as a frosh.
GEORGIA TECH. Tech has quite a few people leaving. BJ Elder, Isma?il Muhammad, Will Bynum and Luke Schenscher are all graduating. That may forced rising senior Jarrett Jack to bounce to the NBA early. If so, then the Jackets have a major rebuilding effort to deal with.
NC STATE. Julius Hodge is gone...but Andrew Brackman and Cedric Simmons will be back. They have some nice recruits [Costner, Fells] coming in and could get back to the NCAA tournament.
FLORIDA STATE. Von Wafer, the only Nole that averaged double figures this past season, will test the NBA waters. He isn't hiring an agent, which is a good thing. I don't think he's pro material yet.
VIRGINIA TECH. Everyone knows that UNC, Duke and Wake Forest finished as the top three in the ACC. Did you know that V-Tech finished 4th? The Hokies lose Carlos Dixon...but everyone else is back. They could make a strong run for the tournament next year.
BOSTON COLLEGE. The Eagles leave the Big East as regular season champions and step into a very tough ACC. BC will hold it's breath to see if Craig Smith leaves for the NBA. Nate Doornekamp and Jermaine Watson graduate. After that, everyone will be back. And if Miami and V-Tech can make such nice debuts...then BC could surprise some folks.
VIRGINIA. The main issue in Charlottesville is finding a new coach to guide the Cavs into the second half of the decade. The Cavs lose their top two scorers, Devin Smith and Elton Brown, from an already bad UVa team.
OUTSIDE OF THE ACC....
CONNECTICUT. Sure, they lose Charlie Villenueva to the NBA...but the team is still loaded. Rudy Gay will take Charlie V?s spot as the main man. Marcus Williams, Josh Boone, Rashad Anderson and Denham Brown will all return to UConn to make a strong run for the national title. They will most likely be the pre-season #1 if many Tar Heels defect to the NBA.
VILLANOVA. Remember, the Cats were just a borderline traveling call from possibly beating the Tar Heels in the Sweet 16. And that was without Curtis Sumpter. They return pretty much everyone, Randy Foye, Allan Ray, Mike Nardi, Kyle Lowery and Jason Fraser. This may be a team to watch!
KENTUCKY. These Wildcats lose Chuck Hayes...and Kel Azubuike is leaning toward testing the NBA waters. But Rajon Rando, Patrick Sparks and Randolph Morris will be back with a year of UK experience under their belts.
TEXAS. The Horns will fight Oklahoma for Big XII supremecy. Daniel Gibson will be a super soph next year...and will join LaMarcus Aldridge and Brad Buckman to head up a tough squad.