Armando Bacot, North Carolina Tar Heels, ACC Basketball

CBB Review previews ACC basketball heading into the 2023-24 season.


ACC Basketball Projected Standings

1. Duke Blue Devils

Tough to bet against last year’s ACC basketball champs. The Blue Devils return 10 players in total, four of which are starters. They bring in the nation’s second-best recruiting class, led by two 5-star prospects in Jared McCain and TJ Power. All that, plus the reigning ACC Player of the Year in Kyle Filipowski. Duke has the tools to repeat.

2. North Carolina Tar Heels

Armando Bacot has been one of the nation’s top bigs since arriving in Chapel Hill in 2019. He rejoins RJ Davis for their final campaign in the 2023-24 season. The Tar Heels do lose Caleb Love and Leaky Black, but they bring in the #12 prospect in Elliot Cadeau. North Carolina had an incredibly disappointing finish last season, causing them to miss the tournament and decline an NIT invite. But Hubert Davis has the tools (and the bulletin board material) to spark the bounce back. North Carolina was the national runner-up just two years ago… the Tar Heels will be national contenders this year.

3. Miami Hurricanes

Last year’s ACC Player of the Year, Isaiah Wong, is off to the NBA. He is replaced by Nijel Pack, CBB Review’s #5 on the ACC basketball point guard list. The Hurricanes return a great core from a team that made it to the Final Four this past March, and they bring in Florida State transfer Matthew Cleveland. Cleveland had a strong season with a struggling Seminoles squad, leading FSU in scoring. He joins Pack, junior guard Woogla Poplar, and junior forward Norchad Omier to make up what should be another championship-contending Canes squad in 2023-24.

4. Virginia Cavaliers

2023 All-ACC Third Team honoree Reece Beekman withdrew from the NBA Draft this past offseason, just one of many reasons Cavalier fans are excited about this year’s Virginia team. Beekman re-joins a solid roster; there really are too many pieces to talk about to give them all the flowers they deserve. This freshman class is stacked, headlined by two top-100 recruits Elijah Gertrude and Blake Buchanan. Keep an eye on Christian Bliss as well, as he should have a solid freshman campaign as well. This might be the most exciting roster for Virginia since 2019.

5. Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Wake Forest had a tough finish last season, causing them to miss the NCAA Tournament for the sixth straight year. They lose Tyree Appleby, a 2023 All-ACC First Team honoree. But the Deacs return 3 of their top 4 scorers and bring in a top 50 recruiting class, possibly the best preseason roster Steve Forbes has had during his tenure in Winston-Salem. If they can minimize the mistakes late in the season, they could be a dark horse come tourney time.

6. Clemson Tigers

Clemson is an interesting team this year. They lose Hunter Tyson, but they return three starters and bring in Syracuse transfer Joe Girard III and NC State transfer Jack Clark. PJ Hall was an All-ACC honoree, and Chase Hunter received votes for the most-improved player. This squad is solid on paper, just need to see how they mesh.

7. Syracuse Orange

Syracuse is right in the middle for a reason: they are a complete question mark. The Orange lost Jesse Edwards to West Virginia, but they brought in one of the best transfer classes in the nation. Adrian Autry is a first-year head coach, but he has been on Jim Boeheim’s staff since 2011. This team, on paper, is possibly the deepest and most athletic team in the conference. They could also come out flat. We need to see how they stack up to the teams at the top of this list before we can confidently say the Orange are back.

8. NC State Wolfpack

The Wolfpack cleared house this offseason. They lost eight players from last year, but like many ACC teams they brought in some great replacements. Seven incoming transfers, highlighted by Butler’s Jayden Taylor, make up a top-25 transfer class according to 247 Sports. They return two top scorers in DJ Burns, Jr. and Casey Morsell to solidify the starters. Head coach Kevin Keatts looks to feed off of a 23-11 season and continue NC State’s success.

9. Pitt Panthers

Quite the finish to Pitt’s season last year, making their way out of the First Four and upsetting 6 seed Iowa State in the first round. The effort earned Jeff Capel ACC Coach of the Year honors, and it earned the Panthers a great recruiting class. Three 4-star recruits join a solid core of returners. Forward Blake Hinson leads a Pitt squad that should be a tough matchup for any ACC team.

10. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Damon Stoudamire is brewing up quite the experiment in Atlanta. The first-year head coach cleared house this past offseason as 11 Yellow Jackets departed to make way for some exciting new names. Florida’s Kowacie Reeves and NC State’s Ebenezer Dowuona join four of Georgia Tech’s top five scorers from last season. Three incoming freshmen to keep your eyes on: Ibrahima Sacko, Naithan George, and Ibrahim Souare. Sacko is a top player from Canada, and George and Souare are overseas players who were teammates for Dream City Christian in Arizona. Stoudamire has NBA playing and coaching experience, and this move is eye-opening since the NBA has been introducing overseas players more and more in the past decade. Did the three freshmen go under the radar?

11. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Mike Brey is out as Notre Dame head coach, leaving behind a legacy in South Bend. ND saw flourishes of greatness in the mid-2010s, but recent struggles have been the headline for the program. CBB Review had a chance to speak with newly-minted head coach Micah Shrewsberry a few weeks ago, and there’s a new theme this year: “If you don’t like us, don’t come back.” That chip-on-the-shoulder mentality has been embraced by the Irish this year, according to Shrewsberry. This group is full of potential, led by freshman Markus Burton. With his experience working with Brad Stevens, both at Butler and in the NBA, Shrewsberry’s Irish should be an exciting team to watch. They still, however, have a lot to prove. 

Watch our interview with Coach Shrewsberry here.

12. Boston College Eagles

BC is coming off a pretty disappointing season, finishing just under .500 both overall and in ACC basketball play. They lose two starters in T.J. Bickerstaff and Makai Ashton-Langford but return leading-scorer Quinten Post for his final year. He and Jaeden Zackery lead the way for the Eagles heading into this season, and incoming transfer Claudell Harris, Jr. is an enticing name. We’ll see how they gel.

13. Virginia Tech Hokies

Sean Pedulla had a nice season last year for the Hokies, finishing second in voting for ACC’s Most-Improved Player to BC’s Quentin Post. He’s the only returning player for Virginia Tech even considered for postseason awards. Three solid transfers join Pedulla: Northwestern’s Robbie Beran, North Carolina’s Tyler Nickel, and Old Dominion’s Mekhi Long. 4-star recruit Brandon Rechsteiner committed to VT as well, adding some depth at guard. Decent reload, but the Hokies will have their hands full.

14. Florida State Seminoles

The Seminoles are in full-rebuild mode. After winning just nine games last season, Florida State lost two top scorers in Matthew Cleveland and Caleb Mills. They return three starters and some key reserves, as well as add Primo Spears from Georgetown. There’s a strong core, there’s decent depth. It’s time to see how Florida State bounces back.

15. Louisville Cardinals

Four wins. That’s all Louisville could muster last season. Yet the Cardinals continue to find a way to contend, adding the nation’s 6th-best recruiting class and 29th-best transfer class. A ton of potential for Louisville, but they lack experience. If they keep the core together, they should be contenders in 2024-25. But who knows, maybe they shock us all this year.

CBB Review Preseason ACC Basketball Player of the Year

Armando Bacot, North Carolina

As it stands right now, without a single game played, the race is really between Bacot and Duke’s Kyle Filipowski. The Duke center is a threat on both sides of the ball, and shows off his range, shooting over 32% from behind the arc.

Bacot wins the award for two reasons. First, he’s such a physical force. Whether it be backing down in the post or protecting the rim on defense, Bacot imposes his will on whoever he’s going up against. The second is impact. Filipowski is the best player on the best team, but Duke has won games the few times he has struggled by turning to the rest of the conference’s best roster. If Bacot struggles, North Carolina struggles. So if North Carolina has a 20+ win season and makes a run in March, it’s safe to say Bacot will finally bring home the hardware.

CBB Review Preseason ACC Basketball Coach of the Year

Jim Larrañaga, Miami

Had it not been for Jeff Capel’s success with Pitt last season, Larrañaga was primed for another ACC Coach of the Year award. If he can replicate the success of last season and go to three straight Elite Eights (or even just a Sweet Sixteen), there won’t be much debate. However, if Adrian Autry, Micah Shrewsberry, or Damon Stoudamire have immediate success with struggling programs, that changes things.

CBB Review Preseason ACC Basketball Freshman of the Year

Jared McCain, Duke

Really any Duke freshman has an argument (they picked up FOUR top-25 recruits). McCain has the biggest chance to shine. With Filipowski bearing most of the load down low, the #14 player in the 2023 class will work alongside Jeremy Roach in the ACC’s most stacked roster this season.

CBB Review Preseason ACC Basketball Transfer of the Year

JJ Starling, Syracuse

Starling made the All-ACC Freshman team on a struggling Notre Dame squad last year. He now joins Judah Mintz at Syracuse in what is the best backcourt in the conference. Another playmaker in the starting five means Mintz can put a little more focus on scoring. It also turns Syracuse into a nightmare defensive matchup for opposing guards. In a few months, this move will have made the biggest impact. 

CBB Review Preseason ACC Basketball First Team

  • G: Reece Beekman, Virginia
  • G: Tyrese Proctor, Duke
  • F: Norchad Omier, Miami
  • F: Kyle Filipowski, Duke
  • F: Armando Bacot, North Carolina

CBB Review Preseason ACC Basketball Second Team

  • G: Nijel Pack, Miami
  • G: Judah Mintz, Syracuse
  • G: Sean Pedulla, Virginia Tech
  • F: Blake Hinson, Pitt
  • F: PJ Hall, Clemson

CBB Review Preseason ACC Basketball All-Freshmen Team

  • G: Marcus Burton, Notre Dame
  • G: Elliot Cadeau, North Carolina
  • G: Jared McCain, Duke
  • G: Elijah Gertrude, Virginia
  • C: Dennis Evans, Louisville

By TJ O'Sullivan

TJ is a grad student at Syracuse University and an alumni of Coastal Carolina University. He is primarily a play-by-play broadcaster, having covered football, basketball and baseball for Coastal Carolina, UMass, Sacred Heart, and Syracuse.

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