For a league that already featured classic stalwarts like Duke and UNC, and recently added powerhouses Syracuse and Pitt, the ACC certainly did not rest on its' laurels by bringing in another ridiculously good program in Louisville.
The Cardinals, just a year removed from an NCAA Championship, put together another great season (31-6) last year, and should again be a top 10 team this year.
"Russticulous" " Russdiculous"aka Russ Smith, is off to the NBA, but plenty of excellent players remain. Montrezl Harrell might be the best returning PF in the country. Chris Jones is an outstanding PG. And there is plenty of firepower on the wings. With this much talent and a Hall-of-Fame coach in Pitino at the helm, the Cardinals are sure to make some noise in their inaugural season on the hardwood in the ACC.
It all starts with Harrell down low. The bruising big man averaged 14 and 8 last season, and will probably continue to improve. 6'10 Mangok Mathiang is a lot like Tonye Jekiri at the C position. Mostly a defender/rebounder, but with a great upside. Jones is an outstanding two way player at the point for Louisville. He might be one of the quickest guards in the country, and should contend for league leader in steals. Terry Rozier is a former 5 star recruit, who can stroke it from deep, and should be a nice compliment to Jones in the back court. Wayne Blackshear is a very accomplished wing, who will share minutes with super talented 6'7 frosh Shaqqan Aaron. G Quentn Snyder, 6'9 F Jaylen Johnson, and 6'10 big man Chinanu Onuaku are all top 100 prospects that should give the Cardinals a very deep bench as well. As you can see, this team is loaded.
F Montrezl Harrell - 6'8 240 Jr.
G Chris Jones - 5'10 175 Sr.
G Terry Rozier - 6'1 185 So.
F Wayne Blackshear - 6'5 230 Sr.
G/F Shaqqan Aaron - 6'7 175 Fr.
What to Expect in 2014-15:
A top 2 or 3 finish in the ACC seems likely. And with Pitino running things, another deep run in the NCAA Tourney would not be surprising in the least. The ACC should present more challenges than the American Conference, but somehow we think Louisville will be up to them.
How they match-up with the 'Canes:
Talent wise this team is a bad match-up for anyone. But given UM's depth at PG (Manu Lecomte, Angel Rodriguez, Ja'Quan Newton) they should do okay against the press. Harrell might be too much for Ivan Cruz Uceda and/or whomever else mans the 4 for the 'Canes. With out a doubt it will be fun to watch. Miami has to face these guys twice this year (2/3, 2/21).
Stay tuned for more ACC Team previews as we count down to Tip Off