ACC Basketball: No Dominant Team Leaves Conference Wide Open

By Michael Roberts
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

The ACC has gone from a two team race to suddenly being wide open just three weeks into conference action.

It wasn’t too long ago the Duke Blue Devils were undefeated and dominating at the top of the conference. An injury to Ryan Kelly quickly proved the Blue Devils are no longer the same intimidating force they were only a few short weeks ago.

The North Carolina State Wolfpack had been chasing Duke almost all season after struggling out of the gate. The Wolfpack were preseason conference favorites but handed over the conference’s best team title to Duke early on before handing the Blue Devils their first loss a week ago. North Carolina State was finally looking like the team many thought they would be in the preseason before losing to the Maryland Terrapins in their next game. The loss once again leaves Wolfpack fans wondering when they can count on their team to be consistent.

Although Duke and N.C. State have 3-1 conference records, the Terrapins’ record of 2-3 still makes them nearly just as dangerous. All three teams have talented frontcourts complimented by strong perimeter production. Don’t sleep on Maryland or let their poor start be misleading, they will be a force once everything is said and done.

There are multiple teams with 2-2 records that also have the potential to be dangerous come conference tournament time. James Michael McAdoo might not be living up to the expectations some had for him, however Reggie Bullock appears to be only getting stronger with each game. The two were a big part of the North Carolina Tar Heels victory over Maryland.

The young North Carolina roster is comparable to another 2-2 school, the Florida State Seminoles. The Seminoles are led by senior Michael Snaer, but are loaded with a freshmen filled roster. Florida State and the Tar Heels are both trying to find consistency after losing several key starters from a year ago. One game the youth looks to have figured it out then the next game they look like they lack confidence. Both schools are talented but still need time to find themselves.

Meanwhile, another 2-2 school that shouldn’t be counted out is the Virginia Cavaliers. The Cavaliers have already beaten North Carolina and Florida State.

The only school in the conference that is undefeated is the 4-0 Miami(FL) Hurricanes, who had that in their pools? The scary thing about the Hurricanes is they’ve won all their conference games without their best player Reggie Johnson, who’s still a month away from returning from a thumb injury. Once he returns, the inside presence of Johnson, Kenny Kadji along with perimeter threats Durand Scott and Shane Larkin, are going to make the Hurricanes as dangerous as anyone.

So far, the only thing that appears to have gone the way preseason predictions thought is the 0-4 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and 1-3 Boston College Eagles are both at the bottom of the conference. However, Ryan Anderson has already proven you can’t count out the Eagles in any contest.

Duke is not as strong as they once were with Kelly out, and it’s impossible to predict what the Wolfpack will be on any given night. The two schools have the best teams on paper, with N.C. State having the most talent at every position than anybody else in the conference. However, if the Wolfpack keep failing to show up once everybody starts to believe in them, they aren’t going to get far.

As a result of the top teams showing weaknesses, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a youthful team go on a win streak after finding themselves late in the season. While, if the Hurricanes can continue their strong play and improve with Johnson’s return, Miami(FL) is going to turn their good start into a great season.

The conference is wide open, and there are six or maybe seven teams that could legitimately be a threat in the ACC tournament.

Michael covers ACC and Big East basketball along with the Toronto Raptors for Rant Sports, you can follow him on Twitter @MichaelxRoberts

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