There’s just one ACC team left standing and, really, most folks figured North Carolina would make a trip to Detroit when the season started.
So there’s really not much need for apprehension while running through the preseason picks —- some of which look top-notch, others that are a little dubious in retrospect.
Anyway, let’s run through this in order of finish, and point out just how unwise I was back in November.
NORTH CAROLINA (32-4)
Regular season record: 27-3, 13-3 ACC
Predicted record: 26-4, 14-2
In retrospect: Overrated the prospect of Tyler Hansbrough missing time early, but overall can’t feel bad about this pick at all.
WAKE FOREST (24-7)
Regular season record: 24-5, 11-5 ACC
Predicted record: 19-10, 9-7
In retrospect: This demonstrates a reluctance to leap onto the potential train —- a direct result of doing precisely that with N.C. State a year earlier. Really thought there was a good chance the Demon Deacons would also lose at Brigham Young. That just happened to fall when they were playing really well, but the wheels started to loosen after an inexplicable loss at Georgia Tech. Not a great pick, but there was understandable wariness.
Regular season record: 25-6, 11-5 ACC
Predicted record: 25-6, 12-4
In retrospect: You’d take a prediction like that every single day of the week. And so will I.
FLORIDA STATE (25-10)
Regular season record: 23-8, 10-6 ACC
Predicted record: 18-13, 6-10
In retrospect: The Seminoles had teased for so long, that the thought of losing three of the top four scorers certainly didn’t help matters, right? Wrong. Instead, Toney Douglas demonstrated his awesomeness without anyone else trying to hoard the ball, and guys like Solomon Alabi and Derwin Kitchen helped more than expected. Probably the team I misjudged the most in the conference.
Regular season record: 23-7, 9-7 ACC
Predicted record: 22-8, 9-7
In retrospect: The Tigers ran the table in nonconference play, which has been a trait over the last few years. Guess next year I’ll just given them the 14-0 or so to start off and go from there.
BOSTON COLLEGE (22-12)
Regular season record: 21-10, 9-7 ACC
Predicted record: 17-14, 6-10
In retrospect: If there’s a coach other than Gary Williams in the ACC it’s best not to underestimate, it’s Al Skinner. And that’s precisely what happened. Apologies are in order, even if I’m still not sure how the Eagles beat North Carolina and Duke.
Regular season record: 18-12, 7-9 ACC
Predicted record: 18-12, 6-10
In retrospect: Turn the Morgan State game into a win and the North Carolina home game into a loss, and this looks downright spectacular. But it was still in the right neighborhood.
VIRGINIA TECH (19-15)
Regular season record: 17-13, 7-9 ACC
Predicted record: 20-10, 9-7
In retrospect: Knowing about J.T. Thompson’s early-season injury would have helped (a 20-10, 7-9 could have easily unfolded with JTT around). Ultimately, the Hokies just didn’t develop a consistent fourth scoring option, though Dorenzo Hudson looked good at the ACC tournament. Poor assumption on this end.
Regular season record: 18-11, 7-9 ACC
Predicted record: 20-9, 10-6
In retrospect: I’m surprised I wasn’t even higher on the Hurricanes; I sure thought they’d be better this year. It wasn’t a matter of overrating Jack McClinton; he was as good as advertised. Rather, it was a matter of expecting more out of the big men and not receiving it.
N.C. STATE (16-14)
Regular season record: 16-13, 6-10 ACC
Predicted record: 16-13, 6-10
In retrospect: Swish.
Regular season record: 10-17, 4-12 ACC
Predicted record: 11-16, 4-12
In retrospect: Dave Leitao could have had the courtesy to beat Liberty and give me a second perfect prediction. Of course, it’s tough to be too mad at the guy; those other 17 losses helped cost him job just the same as that one.
GEORGIA TECH (12-19)
Regular season record: 11-18, 2-14 ACC
Predicted record: 15-14, 5-11
In retrospect: No one expects the Spanish Inquisition. Or a loss to Illinois-Chicago. Or a team with a couple potential NBA first-rounders on its roster to simply not be any good at all for more than two months.
—- Patrick Stevens