Posted: 2:26 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013
We’ve been pretty consistent (and a bit lonely) in saying that Wake Forest has some good, young talent and that the Deacs have a great chance of significantly improving this season. However, with three solid teams joining the league, Wake could also show real improvement while not climbing far in the standings.
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There’s been a natural tendency to compare the new ACC with the old Big East. However, there’s a major difference: that league had a reliable bottom. In other words, it was almost impossible for schools like Seton Hall, Rutgers, DePaul or Providence to gain much traction. The better teams could count on a lot of easy wins on the way to their tourney bids.
The ACC won’t be like that. If we had to guess, we’d rank the league the chart to your right has it:
Moreover, after going to lousy opponents in lousy arenas, Syracuse, Notre Dame and Pitt are in for radically different experiences. Syracuse will get a major early shock at Virginia Tech (Jim Boeheim has some idea, but Seth Greenberg, whatever else you might say about him, taught his school how to ge ready to fight the biggest opponents. They won’t have forgotten).
We’re not predicting an upset mind you, but the atmosphere is not what the Orange is used to, and Virginia Tech will at least play hard.
Notre Dame gets two early exposures at the rebuilt Thriller Dome in Atlanta and then at Maryland. As a former Duke assistant, Mike Brey obviously has more insights into the ACC than does Boeheim, but still, his players haven’t been through the wars yet.
With a widely derided schedule, Pitt could come into ACC play at 13-0 – and could well start ACC play at 0-5 or 1-4 (@ State, Maryland and Wake at home, then off to Georgia Tech and Syracuse before hosting Clemson. They then go to Maryland and host Duke and Virginia.
Scratch that: the pressure’s on Pitt to shift gears and be up to what the ACC is going to demand.
Back to the main point, though: we do expect significant improvement from Wake Forest and we do think that the ACC’s DNA is going to take some getting used to for the newcomers.
While Wake may have a harder time showing improvement, at least the Deacs will know what to expect: the ACC has always been more cutthroat than the Big East.