With the college basketball season in the books, it’s time to start looking ahead towards next season. After having a down year despite adding a few new members, college basketball will be all about the ACC in 2015.
With the addition of Louisville, the ACC will have four powerhouse programs as the Cardinals join Duke, North Carolina, and Syracuse as programs that will routinely be among the top 10 to 15 programs in the country year after year. On top of that, Virginia will begin next season as a top-20 team, which will give the ACC no less than five of the top 20 teams in the country next year. This will make the top third of the league superior to any other conference in the country.
In addition to a frighteningly powerful top of the conference, the middle of the league will be far more formidable than it was this past season. Pittsburgh will remain a tough and talented program that’s on the cusp of the top-25. Despite losing T.J. Warren, NC State will be in position to build off its success late in the season and its trip to the NCAA tournament.
Clemson will carry a lot of momentum into next season after reaching the NIT semifinals, especially if leading scorer K.J. McDaniels returns. Florida State will also be able to build off a trip to the NIT semifinals behind the backcourt of Aaron Thomas and Devon Bookert.
Even the teams that were in the bottom third of the ACC this year will be far more formidable next season. Miami overachieved this season despite losing most of its team from the previous season, and after recruiting well in the past couple of years, Jim Larranaga will make the Hurricanes competitive on a regular basis.
Wake Forest has a good young core in place and will have a lot of excitement around new head coach Danny Manning. Notre Dame is unlikely to repeat a losing record given its track record under Mike Brey, and Virginia Tech should quickly return to respectability after hiring Buzz Williams, who knows how to win in a major conference.
With elite programs at the top and several other programs ready to take significant steps forward, the ACC could have 10-12 quality teams in 2015. Not only would there be a handful of national championship contenders, the ACC would also be the deepest conference in college basketball with an outside chance of matching the record set by the 2011 Big East for putting 11 teams in the NCAA tournament.
There’s no denying that the ACC was a big disappointment in 2014, but this past season was nothing but a brief setback for the conference. Starting next season, it will become the dominating the conference fans envisioned it would become following the last round of expansion.