ACC play begins

Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

Florida State tips off ACC play tomorrow at 5 vs Virginia on ESPN2

Matt and I sat down to make some predictions now that ACC play is here. Once we realized that we both felt that North Carolina's Marcus Paige would not be deserving of the All ACC team but would make it anyway, we figured we better reach out to someone less tainted. So we invited Duke blogger, pod-caster, troll, and general all around dude Ben Swain to join us. You should follow him on Twitter, as he's one of the rare people who can rip FSU and make you laugh while he's doing it.

The predicted ACC standings

Out of conference play has passed and we've learned several things: a) Notre Dame ain't all that, 2) North Carolina might be all that, or they might lose at home to Miami, and D) FSU has suddenly decided to defend people while Duke has a new found admiration for opponent layups. Now that we've gotten the chance to watch all of these teams play we can now pretend that our preseason preseason ACC predictions never happened, and if they did, then this is what we really meant.

Michael Matt Ben
1 Duke Syracuse Syracuse
2 Syracuse North Carolina Duke
3 Pittsburgh Duke Florida State
4 North Carolina Pittsburgh North Carolina
5 Florida State Florida State Pittsburgh
6 Virginia Virginia Virginia
7 Notre Dame Clemson Notre Dame
8 Clemson NC State Maryland
9 NC State Maryland NC State
10 Maryland Wake Forest Wake Forest
11 Wake Forest Notre Dame Clemson
12 Georgia Tech Georgia Tech Miami
13 Boston College Miami Georgia Tech
14 Virginia Tech Virginia Tech Virginia Tech
15 Miami Boston College Boston College

Tournament teams

We all agree on six: Duke, UNC, Syracuse, FSU, Pitt, and Virginia. Ben thinks Notre Dame will slip in as the 7th, and for some unknown reason I can neither describe nor defend, I think that 7th team will be Clemson.

FSU prediction

Matt: As I mentioned before (ed note: and I deleted), unlike last year FSU gets the benefit of the unbalanced schedule this year. Just 4 games against the 4 teams I have projected to finish in the top 4, and 6 games against the bottom 5 teams in my projections. Essentially, I think FSU will be the best of the second tier group of teams in the ACC. So I'm going with an 11-7 ACC record for the Noles, which would put the overall record at 20-10 heading into the ACCT. I think 10-8 and 12-7 are also reasonable and think both have about an equal chance of occurring.

Michael: After last year's defensive debacle, FSU fans are now more comfortable with with Ham ball now that it's returned. A top 10 defense will keep us in most games, and the wildcard will be how many teams we can beat by double digits due to decent offensive production. I think we'll probably have four of those wins, and go 7-7 in close games/big losses. That puts FSU at 11-7.

Ben: 13-6. (ed note: this is a bold prediction as there are only 18 games. Does he mean 13-5 with a first round loss? That would be awesome until the derp at the end).

Surprise team

Matt: If this was for the entire year, I would say FSU. However, it would be hard to call FSU, a team who has been ranked in ESPN's Power Rankings for two consecutive weeks, a "surprise" in the ACC unless the Noles could manage to finish in the top 3...and I don't see that happening. So I'll put Clemson in this spot. The Tigers were picked to finish 14th out of 15th in the preseason, but they have quietly put together a 9-3 OOC record. The competition hasn't been stellar, but it hasn't been VT under Seth Greenburg bad either. LittleJohn is never an easy place to win a game, and I think Clemson puts together a.500 record in conference play, which would be quite an accomplishment for Brad Brownell.

Ben: I think FSU has to be the surprise team, although it could easily be argued that Syracuse being as good as they are is also a surprise. There's still part of me that expects Syracuse to fold a bit down the stretch, but Ennis is such a nice surprise. But you have to give the nod to Florida State who looks like an absolute handful right now.

Michael: I'm going with Clemson. They lost a total stud in Devin Booker plus the enigmatic but talented Milton Jennings, and have basically jumped 100 spots in the Pomeroys. Two teams have managed a point per possession vs their defense (No. 5 nationally) and both were road games.

Disappointing team

Ben: I'll admit I was on the Boston College bandwagon because of their coach and all of the players they returned from last season. But hey, I guess you can't always young players to take the leap on the off-season, because they certainly haven't. I'm shocked at how poorly they defend, and their schedule is less than favorable to say the least. You could make a case for Virginia being ranked in the pre-season top 25, but I was never very high on that team. So for me, my disappointment is in Boston College.

Matt: Boston College. Officially predicted 8th in the ACC during the preseason, with some seeing them as a possible Tourney team, the Eagles may not win 5 league games this season. Another team to watch here is Virginia. I personally (as evidenced by my predictions) think they breakout of whatever funk they are in and do enough in league play to land on the right side of the bubble. That said, they open the gate with @FSU, Wake, @NCSU, @Duke, FSU, UNC for their first 6 games. So if they don't right the ship quickly, the 'Hoos could be staring 2-4--or worse--in the face and the way this league comes out you every night it's easy to get buried in an early hole.

Michael: North Carolina had the potential to win a national championship. PJ Hairston turned down 1st round money to come back and then couldn't keep himself eligible - that takes a special kind of stupid. Even without Hairston they have as many or more consensus top 100 players than every team in the nation aside from Duke and Kansas, and they lost at home to Belmont and Texas? They got beat by UAB? I've never been on the "Roy is only a recruiter" bandwagon, but good lord, I'm not sure any team in the nation has done less with more than UNC is doing right now. They should be trucking anyone outside the top 50. Instead they needed OT to beat an awful Davidson team at home (a team that lost to Clemson by 31).

All ACC Team

Michael Matt Ben
Jabari Parker Jabari Parker Marcus Paige
CJ Fair CJ Fair Jabari Parker
TJ Warren TJ Warren CJ Fair
Marcus Paige Quinn Cook TJ Warren
Lamar Patterson Marcus Paige Tyler Ennis
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