ACC expert picks 2022-23: Bold predictions, most overrated and underrated teams, top players

ACC expert picks 2022-23: Bold predictions, most overrated and underrated teams, top players

College football is the focus of every Power Five conference. That goes without saying. But if there’s one league that has leaned more than most toward basketball over the years it’s probably the ACC, a conference with multiple blue blood programs and FIVE DIFFERENT SCHOOLS that have won national championships in the past 20 years.

Basketball matters in the ACC.

Which is why it’s noticeable and somewhat troubling that basketball has been a bit down in recent years — evidence being that the ACC was ranked as only the fifth best conference, according to KenPom.com, in each of the past two seasons. For context, understand that the ACC didn’t finish any lower than fourth among conferences in any of the seven seasons that preceded the previous two. So things have been trending in the wrong direction — although, it should be noted, the ACC did have two Final Four teams last season — in part because traditionally strong programs like Syracuse, Louisville and Virginia have been down relative to where they normally reside.

Will this season be better?

Yes, I think so.

And, for what it’s worth, so does CBS Sports Bracketology expert Jerry Palm, who currently projects the ACC to place seven teams in the 2023 NCAA Tournament. That would be an improvement over the five bids the league earned last season and represent a move back in the right direction.

CBS Sports ACC Preseason Player of the Year

Armando Bacot | C | North Carolina

Bacot averaged a career-high 16.3 points, a career-high 13.1 rebounds and a career-high 1.7 blocks last season while leading the Tar Heels to the title game of the 2022 NCAA Tournament. The perception that he’s not an ideal prospect for the NBA combined with the fact that All-Americans at UNC can really make some nice money via name, image and likeness opportunities served as a magnet that lured Bacot back to college for a fourth season. His presence should allow the Tar Heels to dominate opponents in the paint and possibly make a return to the Final Four in what will be Hubert Davis’ second season since replacing Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams.

Four more players to watch

Dereck Lively II | C | duke: Lively is the No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2022, according to 247Sports. He’s a 7-foot-1 rim-protector who projects as a one-and-done lottery pick.

Caleb Love | G | North Carolina: Love is the second-leading scorer for a North Carolina team that advanced to the title game of the 2022 NCAA Tournament. He averaged 15.9 points and 3.6 assists last season.

Terquplane Smith | G | NC State: Smith averaged 16.3 points and 4.1 rebounds last season as a freshman despite enrolling at NC State as merely a borderline top-100 prospect in the Class of 2021. If things go well this season, he could be a lottery pick in the 2023 NBA Draft .

isaiah wong | G | miami: Wong is the leading returning scorer for a Miami team that advanced to the Elite Eight of the 2022 NCAA Tournament. He averaged 15.3 points and 4.3 rebounds last season.

CBS Sports ACC Preseason Freshman of the Year

Dereck Lively | C | duke

The ACC’s three highest-ranked freshmen are enrolled at Duke — namely Lively, Dariq Whitehead and Kyle Filipowski. They’re all top-five national prospects So the only sensible move here is to go with a Blue Devil. And in the spirit of keeping this simple, I’ll go with Lively, the consensus No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2022. He’s more of a traditional center than a modern center, which will likely impact where Lively is selected in the 2023 NBA Draft. But awesome traditional centers are still highly valuable in college basketball. So I suspect Lively will be impactful right from the jump as a dunk-everything/block-everything big who overwhelms less-talented post players way more often than not.

ACC predicted order of finish

ACC most overrated team

Florida State

I like FSU and believe the Seminoles will make the NCAA Tournament. But they were voted as high as fourth on some ballots here — and that just seems a tad high for a team that finished 17-14 last season and 105th at KenPom.com.

ACC most underrated team

Boston College

I’m not necessarily high or enthusiastic about Boston College. That’s why I voted the Eagles 13th. But I won’t be shocked if they at least slightly overachieve relative to preseason expectations, if only because there’s something to be said for chemistry and camaraderie, and Boston College is returning four starters.

ACC expert picks

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