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Sport Luke DeCock: With talent drain at the top, it's a wide-open ACC basketball race (for a change)

04:45  09 october  2019
04:45  09 october  2019 Source:   latimes.com

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Luke DeCock . One of the few ACC basketball milestones not yet achieved dangles within reach. UNC basketball coach Roy Williams reacts to a question about the importance of beating Duke in The ACC , with three teams ranked in the top five playing in Friday night’ s semifinals, has a shot to

Read Luke DeCock sports columns and opinions from your favorite local columnists in Raleigh, NC, and The Triangle Unique commentary on Triangle sports, the ACC and the Carolina Hurricanes. Luke DeCock . In this new era of Duke basketball , an ‘old fashioned’ throwback to teams past.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It’s a good year to be a mid-tier ACC basketball team. After unprecedented player turnover — there are only two returning all-ACC players, both off the third team — this may be not only the most wide-open basketball season in years, but a rare down year for the ACC.

Mike Krzyzewski standing in front of a crowd: Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski instructs his players during the first half against Syracuse in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament at the Specturm Center in Charlotte, N.C., on March 14, 2019.© Ethan Hyman/Raleigh News & Observer/TNS Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski instructs his players during the first half against Syracuse in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament at the Specturm Center in Charlotte, N.C., on March 14, 2019.

Zion Williamson is gone, the stars of Virginia’s national championship team are gone, North Carolina is starting over with another freshman point guard and Duke is starting over with another freshman class. Meanwhile, Big East exiles Louisville and Notre Dame may have the best returning veteran talent in the league.

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Luke DeCock . Crowded basketball standings take their cue from ACC football’s Coastal Division. The bottom of the standings is just as crowded as the top with five teams either 1-4 or 1-5 and a few parallel surprises. It ’ s no shock to see Wake Forest and Boston College at the back of the line, but

But what a voyage it was. The ACC essentially launched televised coverage of college basketball as we know it , and that television package essentially And if you listen closely enough Saturday night, as the Raycom broadcast goes off the air, you might be able to hear him, the pilot at the wheel, even

Throw in the bump from 18 to 20 conference games, which will dilute the standings-skewing effects of the unbalanced schedule, and the ACC is looking at NFL-style parity, with little differentiation between the teams at the top and a huge messy middle.

“It’s just caught up to everybody, especially with kids now being able to test the (draft) waters,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “We’re just going to see more newness throughout the league, especially a league of our stature. These kids get prepared for the pros by being in the best conference. It makes it like wide open, I think, for the league this year.”

Krzyzewski said he thought the ACC had five teams that could win a national title a year ago, and one of those five actually did win it, giving the ACC its third championship in five years. It’s a little different this fall. After the offseason exodus, it was hard to pick out a favorite at Tuesday’s media extravaganza. Of the 11 non-seniors on the all-ACC teams, only Louisville’s Jordan Nwora and Notre Dame’s John Mooney are back. Eight jumped early to the NBA, and another transferred.

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Luke DeCock . On basketball ’s biggest day, ACC is a football conference. Given the talent drain – 10 first-round picks in the NBA draft, including players like Wake Forest’s John Collins who before It ’ s a strange set of circumstances for a conference that was built upon, and prides itself on, basketball .

The ACC power dynamic has shifted dramatically from what it looked like after the NCAA Final Four. It ’ s been a crazy April at the top of the ACC , and just when it looked like Duke and North Carolina Sports columnist Luke DeCock has covered the Summer Olympics, the Final Four, the Super Bowl

Even in this revolving-door era of college basketball, that’s a staggering talent drain.

“It does give you some hope, when you finish where we finish, when the first and second team are all gone,” said Notre Dame coach Mike Brey, whose injury-riddled team won three ACC games last year. “I looked at that a lot this summer, trying to keep me from jumping off a bridge in South Bend. You see all those guys are gone, maybe our window’s opening.”

It’s funny how the conference had to wait until its football programs were good enough to justify its own network — or maybe just Clemson — but now that the ACC Network is here, and ready to go crazy with basketball, it might be a year late. The network missed out on both Zion and Virginia’s redemption song. Nothing begins to approach either of those story lines in the league this season.

Instead, Georgia Tech just got whacked with a postseason ban by the NCAA — the third time in seven years the 15-team ACC tournament will have 14 teams — N.C. State is laboring under its own NCAA allegations and Louisville continues to be Louisville, still trying to wash the stains out of the dirtiest laundry in the ACC.

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No guarantees for U. S . basketball team as it finds its way – DeCock . By Luke DeCock . ldecock@newsobserver.com. Australia’ s Andrew Bogut, center, Team USA’ s DeAndre Jordan, right, and Klay Thompson scramble for a rebound at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

That he won it by such a wide margin over UNC’ s Roy Williams, who lost his best two players and won his second consecutive ACC regular-season title. Top 150 national recruit Jacolbe Cowan of Providence Day announced his college commitment Friday after his homecoming game at school.

Not an ideal time to be mid-launch of a network that’s supposed to be a 24-hour infomercial for ACC basketball.

But the brand remains as strong as ever, and the foremost basketball conference will continue to be the place where basketball matters more than football, in the hearts and minds of the ACC — if not the increasingly fattened wallets. A season where the championship comes down to the wire with someone other than Virginia, Duke or North Carolina involved might be the change of pace the ACC didn’t know it needed.

“We’re spoiled from a basketball standpoint,” ACC commissioner John Swofford said. “But that’s OK. It’s nice to have those expectations.”

Louisville, with Jordan Nwora and Stephen Enoch, has as good a chance as anyone. Notre Dame, if it can stay healthy, has three senior stars. Florida State is always Florida State. Maybe unexpected others have a claim to stake, like guard-heavy N.C. State. This would be the season to do it. There’s no question the gap between the three teams that account for those recent national titles and the rest of the league will be as small this season as it has been in a long time.

Chaos may ensue. And blessedly so.

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