Notre Dame Fighting Irish: ACC Contender or Pretender?

By Trevor Lowry
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish will be playing in the ACC in the 2013-14 college basketball season. There are currently three teams ranked in the top 11 of the USA Today Coaches Poll in this conference. The Fighting Irish come in at No. 22 in the rankings, but are they pretenders or contenders in the ACC?

Since they are ranked you would think right away that they would compete for a conference title, but wait just one second. If Jabari Parker is worth the hype, the Duke Blue Devils could easily be the best team in the country. They are entering the year with a No. 4 ranking.

Parker may not be getting as much buzz as Andrew Wiggins, but he is still the No. 2 recruit for the class of 2013. That has to be worth something.

Notre Dame will be losing two key players in Jack Cooley and Scott Martin. The team will at least be getting its returning leading scorer back in Jerian Grant. Him and Eric Atkins should be quite the duo in the backcourt. Atkins averaged 11.2 points per game and 5.5 assists per game. Grant averaged 13.3 points per game and 5.5 assists per game.

As of right now, Notre Dame is definitely a contender, but in no way does it have as much talent as Duke or North Carolina. Talent doesn’t always meet expectations, though.

It is important to know that Virginia will also compete for a conference title. The ACC is stacked with great teams and that will show once the 2013-14 season starts.

The Fighting Irish still have some key pieces from last season’s team, but they will need to find replacements for players such as Cooley. Still, Notre Dame is a team that made the dance last year and won 25 games on the season.

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