Coach: Mike Krzyzewski (34th season, 884-238 at Duke; 957-297 overall)
2012-13 record: 30-6 (14-4 ACC, second)
Postseason: NCAA tournament, 3-1 (beat Albany, Creighton, Michigan State; lost to Louisville)
Projected starting lineup: G Quinn Cook, G Rasheed Sulaimon, F Jabari Parker, F Rodney Hood, F Amile Jefferson
• Remember when Duke lost to Lehigh in the NCAA tournament in 2012, and Lehigh, from the Patriot League, had arguably a more athletic lineup than Duke, an ACC program with its choice of McDonalds All-Americans?
This Duke group promises to be Mike Krzyzewskis most athletic since the 2001 NCAA title team. Sophomore guard Rasheed Sulaimon, freshman forward Jabari Parker and sophomore forward Rodney Hood give the Blue Devils a dynamic, athletic element.
Throw in more physically mature versions of Amile Jefferson, Quinn Cook or possibly Memphis transfer Tarik Black, and Duke will be able to apply the type of defensive pressure that marked the majority of Krzyzewskis 957 wins.
• Some people believe in the existence of a Sports Illustrated cover jinx. You would have to think Jabari Parker is one of those people. Since SI put Parker on its cover in May 2012, billing him as "the best high school basketball player since LeBron James," the 6-foot-8 wing forward has dealt with a foot injury, weight and conditioning issues and in the court of public opinion anyway has been surpassed by Andrew Wiggins as the best prep player in the country.
It doesnt matter if Parker is better than Wiggins, what matters is if hes healthy and in shape. Duke is getting an exceptional talent in Parker, who by all reports, is healthy. Parker has the skill set to handle the ball and set up others or create his own shot. Hes also big enough to defend the post and effectively rebound.
In terms of Duke players, hes in the line of Grant Hill or Luol Deng, and he possess the type of rare talent, like Kyrie Irving, to take over games as a freshman.
• Mason Plumlee, Ryan Kelly and Seth Curry scored a lot of points and won a lot of games. Theres an even-money chance Duke will be a better defensive team without them, but theres no denying their ability to put the ball in the basket will be missed.
Dukes 3-point shooting (the Blue Devils were sixth in the country with a 39.9 percentage) will have to rely on Cook, Sulaimon and to a lesser extent Andre Dawkins and Matt Jones, to replace Curry and Kellys volume.
Plumlees exit, in particular, will create a void in the post, one that Duke will have to fill with a transfer or by a committee of Josh Hairston, Jefferson and Marshall Plumlee. Going back to the Duke 99 comparison, the major difference is the absence of an established post. The college game has changed, and there arent many Elton Brands out there, but Parker or Hood arent built to bang with the physical frontcourts of Syracuse, Pitt or Maryland.
Krzyzewski coaxed 27 ACC wins out of his previous two teams (with nary a deserved ACC coach of the year award to show for it), neither had the talent or athletic ability of this group. If Duke can stay healthy and the NCAA actually seeds the top teams properly this time theres no reason the Blue Devils cant reach the Final Four for the 12th time under Krzyzewski. If Parker, Hood, Cook and Sulaimon all reach their potential, theres no reason Krzyzewski cant bring home his fifth national title.
|G Quinn Cook, Jr.||11.7||3.8||5.3|
|G Rasheed Sulaimon, So.||11.6||3.4||1.9|
|F Amile Jefferson, So.||4.0||2.9||0.2|
|G Tyler Thornton, Sr.||3.6||2.3||2.2|
|F Josh Hairston, Sr.||2.6||2.1||0.2|
|F Alex Murphy, So.||2.1||1.0||0.0|
|F Marshall Plumlee, So.||0.1||0.6||0.1|
|G Andre Dawkins, Sr. redshirt|
|G Seth Curry||17.5||2.5||1.5|
|F Mason Plumlee||17.1||10.0||1.9|
|F Ryan Kelly||12.9||5.3||1.7|
|F Rodney Hood (Miss. State), So.||6-8 210|||
|F Jabari Parke, Fr.||6-8 220||2|
|G Matt Jones, Fr.||6-4 180||36|
|F Semi Ojeleye, Fr.||6-6 220||40|
ESPN recruiting analyst Dave Teleps take:
Parker: "Hes actually the best basketball player, from a IQ standpoint and execution and his resume, of anyone in the country in the class. Youre getting a guy thats used to winning four straight state championships in Illinois, theyll build statues of you at the state tournament for doing that and hes an exceptional fit for Duke.
"Hes a star with star power, who can easily assimilate in a team setting. Weve seen guys come into the Triangle and clash with upperclassmen, because they thought they were bigger than the program, but that wont be a problem with Parker."
Jones: "Hes an accurate 3-point shooter and he has been coached well in high school, so his learning curve is going to be less steep. Hes used to being pushed.
"Both Jones and Ojeleye are going to compete against each other for a set number of minutes as freshman. Theyre different in size but their skill sets are similar."
Ojeleye: "Semi is a little more of a scorer than Jones and hes a small forward, despite the size of his frame. Hes still more comfortable behind the line than going to the rim off the dribble."
Coach: Roy Williams (11th season, 282-79 at UNC; 700-180 overall)
2012-13 record: 25-11 (12-6 ACC, third)
Postseason: NCAA tournament, 1-1 (beat Villanova, lost to Kansas)
Projected starting lineup: PG Marcus Paige, G P.J. Hairston, G Leslie McDonald, F James Michael McAdoo, F Isaiah Hicks
• P.J. Hairston and James Michael McAdoo both decided to return for the 2013-14 season. By the end of the 2012-13 season, Hairston developed into the best player on the team, averaging 18.2 points over the final 13 games.
To give you an idea of the strides Hairston, a scoring guard, made from his freshman to sophomore seasons, he made 13 3-pointers (in 27 attempts) in three ACC tournament games in 2013. As a freshman, Hairston made eight 3-pointers during the entire conference season.
Hairstons 3-point numbers went from 27.3 percent (38 of 139) in 2012 to 39.6 percent (89 of 225) in 2013. He also contributed 4.3 rebounds and 43 steals as a sophomore.
McAdoo, while not the dominant force he was expected to be as a sophomore, still led the team with 7.3 rebounds, 54 steals and averaged 14.4 points per game (second to Hairstons 14.6 season average). McAdoo either hates money or really loves UNC, because he has turned down the NBA and a spot in the first 20 picks of the draft twice to instead play for the Tar Heels.
• Marcus Paige developed at the point as the season progressed. Roy Williams showed a lot of faith in the undersized (6-foot-0.5) point guard, who should be stronger and more confident as a sophomore. There were games, up through January, where Paige was getting turned inside out on the defensive end but Williams stuck with him, and that decision will yield more dividends this season.
• The addition of forwards Isaiah Hicks and Kennedy Meeks, both in-state McDonalds All-Americans, provides reinforcements inside. Williams went to a smaller lineup, with Hairston starting over the final 13 games, because he couldnt get enough consistent production from the group of bigs (Desmond Hubert, Joel James and Brice Johnson). All three will be back (Johnson has the biggest upside) and will get significant help from Hicks and Meeks.
• Judging by their own impossible standards, this UNC group is still not on the level of Williams previously ultra-talented teams. Hairston and McAdoo are pros, to be sure, and theres five McDonalds All-Americans on the roster, but as whole, the roster is still a notch below Williams best teams.
• The Tar Heels went 3-9 against teams in the NCAA tournament last season, including the 1-1 record in the tournament. They improved as the season progressed but only to the point where they could beat the teams they were supposed to beat.
The six straight wins after Hairston was put in the starting the lineup came against Virginia (NIT), Georgia Tech, N.C. State (lost in the round of 64), Clemson, FSU (NIT) and Maryland (NIT).
Theyll have to get better this season, carrying over the momentum from the finish, without the services of Reggie Bullock. Unlike McAdoo and Hairston, Bullock jumped to the NBA. His versatility, defense and rebounding really made the four-guard lineup work last season and will be tougher to replace (and probably by a combination of Leslie McDonald and J.P Tokoto) in a tougher ACC race.
Most UNC fans panicked last year after lopsided losses to Indiana and Texas. Williams did some of his best coaching work in not only in winning 12 ACC games but also keeping the team from splitting apart, like it did in 2011. Williams never seems to get enough credit from his own fan base for the work he does.
Williams will get 13 or 14 ACC wins out of this team, and the Tar Heels will have a shot at another Final Four run but that will require a leap from both McAdoo and Paige (like the one Hairston made last year).
In the ACC, theres not much difference between UNC, Syracuse, Notre Dame and Virginia. The Heels will face the Irish twice but only see the Orange on the road and have to play Duke twice, which leaves them at a disadvantage to Notre Dame.
|G P.J. Hairston, Jr.||14.6||4.3||1.4|
|F James Michael McAdoo, Jr.||14.4||7.3||1.1|
|PG Marcus Paige, So.||8.2||2.7||4.6|
|G Leslie McDonald, Sr.||7.2||2.1||1.2|
|F Brice Johnson, So.||5.4||3.2||0.3|
|G J.P. Tokoto, So.||2.6||1.7||0.7|
|F Joel James, So.||2.3||2.4||0.2|
|F Jackson Simmons, Jr.||1.8||1.7||0.3|
|F Desmond Hubert, Jr.||1.1||1.7||0.1|
|G Reggie Bullock (NBA)||13.9||6.5||2.9|
|G Dexter Strickland||7.8||2.4||4.2|
|F Isaiah Hicks, Fr.||6-8 210||18|
|F Kennedy Meeks, Fr.||6-9 275||59|
|PG Nate Britt, Fr.||6-1 165||NR|
Dave Teleps take:
Hicks: "He needs a summer in the weight room and ideally he will blossom as a sophomore because physically he has work to do. He has an excellent perimeter touch and he changes ends very well and hes a factor as a shot blocker. In Carolinas style, his an ideal fit at the 4 because of the way he can move and run the floor very well."
Meeks: "He will reinvent himself at Carolina. Hes in need of a major conditioning program. Once he gets his body in shape, he has good footwork and excellent hands, he could be a weapon rebounding the ball and starting the fast break with his outlet passes.
"He lost his identity last year. He was out of shape and didnt have a particularly strong year. Its really simple for Kennedy, he will help UNC when he gets into better shape and can be a defensive rebounder and trigger the break."
Britt: "Nate rode the prospect roller coaster the last few years. He needs to get his confidence back. Hell be a backup point guard at UNC, but hes very capable of out-playing his reputation. When he stays within himself and hes a passer and leader on the floor, thats when hes at his best. This is a low pressure and positive situation for him to get better."
Coach: Mark Gottfried (third season, 48-24 at N.C. State; 327-178 overall)
2012-13 record: 24-11 (11-7 ACC, fifth)
Postseason: NCAA tournament, 0-1 (lost to Temple)
Projected starting lineup: PG Cat Barber, G Desmond Lee, G Ralston Turner, F T.J. Warren, F Kyle Washington
• A fresh start. Mark Gottfried gets to start over in Year 3 at N.C. State, and he does so with two NCAA tournament appearances under his belt and a trip to the Sweet 16.
Gottfried said after the NCAA tournament loss to Temple he could never get all the players to buy in last season. With a new season and new roster, he gets to push the reset button and try again with a group of players he recruited.
• Sophomore forward T.J. Warren averaged 12.1 points in a supporting role as a freshman. He has the ability, and offensive efficiency, to parlay this seasons bigger role into an ACC scoring title. He will need to consistently rebound better and shoot better from the free-throw line (54.2 percent), but the opportunity is there for Warren to put together an All-ACC season.
• N.C. State will miss both forwards C.J. Leslie, the teams leading scorer the past two seasons, and Richard Howell, who led the ACC in rebounding, but both were undersized for their positions.
In freshman bigs Kyle Washington (6-9, 215 pounds) and BeeJay Anya (6-9, 275), Gottfried is getting bigger, taller bodies to play the interior. Senior 7-footer Jordan Vandenberg also fits the criteria and figures to get more minutes (5.4) than last season.
• There are two point guards on the roster, sophomore Tyler Lewis and freshman Cat Barber, but neither is as talented as Lorenzo Brown, who left for the NBA after his junior season. Brown led the ACC with 7.2 assists and averaged 12.4 points per game, his production will be difficult to consistently match. Not to mention, neither Lewis nor Barber will have as many proven scoring options to feed as Brown did.
• Warren started 14 games last season, Lewis two and Vandenberg one. Thats all the Wolfpack has back from last seasons roster, which lost two productive seniors in Howell and shooting guard Scott Wood, two talented juniors in Leslie and Brown, and guard Rodney Purvis, who to Connecticut.
That doesnt leave a lot of experience or scoring (78.9 percent of it needs to be replaced) from a team that won 24 games and made the NCAA tournament.
Plus, while Washington and Anya are bigger than either Leslie or Howell, they dont have any college experience. Gottfried brought in junior college guard Desmond Lee to offset the loss of Purvis, and Lees maturity will help, but Gottfried couldnt find a veteran big man to plug into the rotation.
N.C. State missed an opportunity last season. There are only so many seasons when youre going to be on equal footing with Duke and UNC, and the Wolfpack had one of those chances last season and couldnt turn it into anything more than a fifth-place ACC finish.
Last years team had internal issues, ones Gottfried tried to but couldnt fix. With basically a whole new roster, he has a chance this season to start over. State will be looking up at UNC and Duke in the process, but there are also no expectations to handle.
The conference schedule, with trips to Duke, UNC, Syracuse, Notre Dame and Pitt, will keep the Wolfpack in the middle third of the conference and probably outside of the NCAA conversation, but theres also a welcomed chance for the Pack to exceed expectations.
|F T.J. Warren, So.||12.1||4.2||0.8|
|PG Tyler Lewis, So.||3.5||1.1||1.4|
|F Jordan Vandenberg, Sr.||0.7||0.7||0.0|
|F C.J. Leslie (NBA)||15.1||7.4||1.5|
|F Richard Howell||12.7||10.9||1.7|
|G Scott Wood||12.6||2.9||1.1|
|PG Lorenzo Brown (NBA)||12.4||4.3||7.2|
|G Rodney Purvis (transfer)||8.3||2.4||1.3|
|G Ralston Turner (LSU), Jr.||6-5 209|||
|G Desmond Lee, Jr.||6-3 185|||
|PG Cat Barber, Fr.||6-2 165||26|
|F BeeJay Anya, Fr.||6-9 275||67|
|F Kyle Washington, Fr.||6-9 21||5 97|
|F Lennard Freeman, Fr.||6-8 215||NR|
Dave Teleps take:
Barber: "Hes a speed merchant. His first instinct is to step on the gas and get to the rim, and hes willing to take people with him. He has to work on his shot but he can spread it around and hes exceptionally fast. Hes going to be difficult to guard.
"It will be an interesting dynamic with him and Tyler Lewis because they can both play at the same time."
Washington: "He has the best chance of being of power forward. Ive liked him best when he can shoot a 15-foot jump shot. He has really undervalued length and he can extend at the rim. The biggest thing for Kyle is replicating the effort every single time. "
Anya: "Hes very close to being where he needs to be physically, and if you took at all the measurables, hes in the top 1 or 2 in the entire class in reach and wingspan. He can play through the rim and be a fantastic back-to-the-basket play. His effort and results have been sporadic. At his highest point during his junior year, he was a dominant post player. He will benefit from a defined role."
Freeman: "Lennard adds depth in front court. Hes not going to be ready to play major minutes as a freshman. Hes almost a member of the class of 2014 in that way. Hes young and will be in more of an apprentice role as a freshman."