Belk Kickoff Classic – Watch for a Carolina Victory

Just days away from what should be an exciting game in Charlotte between North Carolina and South Carolina, it’s time to preview the two teams and pick a winner.

In one of the more intriguing matchups coming Thursday night, a high powered Tar Heel offense and questionable defense meet a questionable offense and below average defense in the Gamecocks. So we’ll divide the two teams up by these two lines (and these two alone) and predict a winner.

Battle Fronts (stats from 2014 via

North Carolina offense – 35th in the nation with 55 touchdowns and 429.8 yards per game.
Returns one of the most underrated dual-threat QBs in the nation in Marquise Williams.

South Carolina defense – 92nd in the nation allowing 432.7 yards per game.
Returns 8 starters

North Carolina defense – ranked 117th in the nation allowing 497.8 yards per game
New scheme under first year DC Gene Chizik

South Carolina offense – ranked 33rd in the nation with 51 touchdowns and 443.4 yards per game
Returns 5 starters and will begin with a new QB.

Expect South Carolina to improve on their defensive numbers from last year having returned 8 starters from the defensive line. Expect North Carolina to improve from their offensive numbers from last year having returned essentially an entire offensive line headlined by dual-threat QB Marquise Williams. Expect South Carolina offense to be about average in this game and/or slightly off their averages from last year given the new QB and questionable North Carolina defense. Expect North Carolina to improve slightly from their defensive numbers (or the defense that wasn’t) from a season ago.

Having said that, what happens with this game? North Carolina SHOULD win in a thriller over a new QB even though it will be a homecoming of sorts for the former Wakefield star Conner Mitch. The biggest question mark surrounding the Tar Heels is that defense. You’ve all seen the numbers and graphics from what new DC Chizik has been able to do in his first year at every team he has gone to, and if you have, you know some of us have been saying that ANY defense that isn’t last years’ will put us in position to win some games. This is one of them.

ACC Baseball Preview 2015

As the weather gets warmer (well, for most of the ACC), spring comes and with spring comes baseball. America’s pastime is alive and well in the ACC as last season saw 6 teams go to the NCAA tournament. The addition of Louisville makes an already competitive league ever tougher. Here’s a quick overview of some of the storylines for ACC baseball.

(Pre-season rankings according to Baseball America)

Boston College

2014 Record: 22-33 (10-20)

Postseason: N/A

Player to Watch: OF Chris Shaw

The Eagles have never really been known as a baseball school. In fact, their baseball field is actually a fenced off corner of a soccer field. The team is usually towards the bottom of the ACC standings. This year looks like it may be the same, but there is a twist. That twist is outfielder Chris Shaw. The outfielder had a tremendous 2014 during which he led the league in home runs and was named All-ACC. Baseball is by no means an individual game, but if BC can get their star some support, it could be a different year.

#24 Clemson

2014 Record: 36-25 (15-14)

Postseason: Lost @ Nashville Regional

Player to Watch: OF Steven Duggar

Clemson opens the season ranked 24th according to Baseball America and for good reason. They return most of their core from last year and have brought in some solid recruits. Steven Duggar was All-ACC last year, but he’s not the only star. Aside from him, the Tigers have two elite left handed pitchers in Zack Erwin and Alex Bostic. On the other end of the battery is sophomore Chis Okey who batted .286 in his freshman year.  On the surface, Clemson has the pieces it takes to get to Omaha. You can be sure that the loss in regionals last year will drive this team to work for a better result this year.


2014 Record: 33-25 (16-14)

Postseason: Lost @ ACC Tournament

Player to Watch: RHP Michael Matuella

One of the more intriguing teams from 2014 was Duke. Armed with a 2nd year head coach and lots of veterans, the Blue Devils won 30 games for only the 10th time in program history and the first time since 2009. Now is when the rubber meets the road for coach Chris Pollard. The team is now mostly his players and many will play key roles for Duke this year. Even though the team lost much of their offense last year, they return most of their pitching talent. Junior Michael Matuella is a pre-season All-American and Baseball America even named him the top draft prospect in the ACC. Behind him is senior Andrew Istler who is known for his versatility. He will start the season as the no. 2 starter, but don’t be surprised to see him come out of the bullpen especially in key games.

#21 Florida State

2014 Record: 43-17 (21-9)

Postseason: Lost @ Tallahassee Regional

Player to Watch: OF DJ Stewart

There’s no question this year as to who the Seminoles will turn to as their star. DJ Stewart hopes to repeat as the ACC player of the year. The junior garnered just about every award last year and will return this season to do it once more. Aside from Stewart, a veteran heavy rotation is led by junior Mike Compton and senior Bryant Holtmann. The Seminoles suffered a disappointing loss at their own regional last season suffering losses to Georgia Southern and Alabama. That was certainly not the outcome they hoped for and will be hungry for more this season.

Georgia Tech

2014 Record: 37-27 (14-16)

Postseason: Lost @ Oxford Regional

Player to Watch: DH AJ Murray

After an improbable run to the ACC title last season, the Yellow Jackets return with most of their core looking to repeat. AJ Murray leads an offense that tends to be a little all-or-nothing. At times, they can easily score 10 or more runs. Other times, they are apt to being shut out. On the other side, Georgia Tech relied on the strength of their bullpen last year. This year should see the reverse since their star relievers graduated. The team now finds strength in their starters. If the Jackets’ hitting can find some consistency this year, they have the pieces in place to make a run for the title again.

#12 Louisville

2014 Record: 50-17 (19-5 in AAC)

Postseason: Lost in CWS (went undefeated through Regionals and Supers)

Player to Watch: RHP Kyle Funkhouser

If you thought adding Louisville to the conference would just boost basketball, you clearly haven’t seen the Cardinals play baseball. The team went undefeated in their own regional and super regional only to fall in the College World Series to eventual champion Vanderbilt. Junior returns Kyle Funkhouser and will be one of the top draft prospects this year as he leads the veteran heavy team. With much of the team returning this season, there’s no reason to think the Cardinals won’t return to Omaha for the 3rd straight year.

#9 Miami

2014 Record: 44-19 (24-6)

Postseason: Lost @ Coral Gables Regional final

Player to Watch: C Zack Collins

Many teams in the nation would have loved to have Miami’s last season. They were the top seed in the ACC tourney, and even though they didn’t win, they still hosted their own regional. It took a double elimination final but Texas Tech outlasted the Hurricanes to advance to the next round. By most standards, this wasn’t a bad season at all. With the talent they had though, many felt they could have done more. This year, the Hurricanes are back and ready to do just that. The team is anchored by a number of All-Americans including ace Andrew Suarez, one of the conference’s top pitchers. But the star of the team is sophomore catcher Zack Collins. After an amazing freshman season where he hit almost .300 with 11 home runs, Collins will try to continue his legacy at Miami. With expectations even higher than last year, anything short of a CWS berth may be seen as a disappointment. With the talent here though, there’s no reason to expect the Hurricanes won’t find themselves in Omaha.

#17 North Carolina

2014 Record: 35-27 (15-15)

Postseason: Lost @ Gainesville Regional

Player to Watch: OF Skye Bolt

After the 2013 season saw both UNC and NC State meet in the CWS, fans of both teams anxiously awaited 2014. Unfortunately for them, both teams failed to meet expectations as their only meeting was the ACC play-in game. North Carolina came out on the better end as they won the play-in and squeaked into the Gainesville regional. This year, with many of the same players returning, UNC once again hopes to live up to the lofty expectations. Skye Bolt and Landon Lassiter anchor a solid lineup and Trent Thornton leads an elite rotation. Not much has changed for the Tar Heels and hopefully that means they can build off last year’s disappointment and get back to to the College World Series.

NC State

2014 Record: 32-23 (13-17)

Postseason: Lost ACC play-in game

Player to Watch: C Andrew Knizner

As previously mentioned, the Wolfpack had a disappointing season a year ago. Expectations were sky high and with 2 first round draft picks, everything indicated that the Wolfpack would have a memorable year. Sadly, the supporting cast underperformed and the stars even faltered a bit at times. It was a year that many would like to forget. Now starts a new year for NC State and with it, a fresh start. After losing 7 draft picks, the team will look to its youth this year. Andrew Knizner shifts from 3B to catcher and will likely be the team’s top hitter. Knizner should get some help from veteran outfielder Jake Fincher, but there are still quite a few holes to fill. Most likely, 2015 will be a rebuilding year for the Wolfpack, but they may not be too far out of contention.

Notre Dame

2014 Record: 22-31 (9-21)

Postseason: N/A

Player to Watch: 2B Cavan Biggio

The Irish didn’t get the warm welcome they were hoping for last season. Their first year in the conference saw them finish tied for last place. With nowhere to go but up, Notre Dame turns to their star player with his star legacy: Cavan Biggio. The son of MLB great Craig Biggio, Cavan led the team last year in several categories as a freshman. As he returns for his second year, Biggio looks for consistency, something he struggled with last year. Also of note is the late addition of Tori Hunter Jr, a wide receiver on the football team. Hunter Jr. hasn’t played baseball since high school and while dual sport athletes aren’t unusual, it’s interesting seeing an addition to the team so late. Also the son of a Major Leaguer, Hunter Jr. will get a chance to show off his athleticism on the diamond this year.


2014 Record: 22-30 (11-19)

Postseason: N/A

Player to Watch: OF Boo Vazquez

Pitt was another team that had a rude awakening in their first season of ACC. They pulled a few upset victories, but overall were not good enough for the ACC tournament. This year, the Panthers hope to improve from last year and make the tourney. With a top 50 recruiting class, Pittsburgh could very easily find themselves in the tournament especially if senior Boo Vazquez has a year like the last one. He was the leading power hitter for the Panthers and even had a 10 game hitting streak last year. Though it may be a few years off, Pittsburgh appears to be a team that’s on its way up.

#4 Virginia

2014 Record: 53-16 (22-8)

Postseason: Lost in CWS final

Player to Watch: LHP Nathan Kirby

The Cavaliers enjoyed a special year that was a few outs away from being even more. In the 3 game College World Series final, Virginia outscored Vanderbilt 17-14 but lost 2 games by a single run. It was a tough way to end a season that was one to remember. Even though they lost a few stars to the draft, the Cavaliers return a majority of the players from their Omaha run. Most notably, Nathan Kirby is a lefty who throws around 92mph. Add in his junk pitches, and you can easily see how Kirby no-hit Pittsburgh last year. With several more names popping up on draft boards everywhere, Virginia looks like a strong candidate to win the ACC and more this year.

Virginia Tech

2014 Record: 21-31-1 (9-21)

Postseason: N/A

Player to Watch: OF Saige Jenco

2014 was tough year for Virginia Tech baseball. They finished tied for last place in the conference winning only 9 conference games. After losing some key seniors, the Hokies look to rebuild under 2nd year coach Patrick Mason. Saige Jenco is only a sophomore this year and will attempt to lead the young team back to their former glory. Jenco will probably bat lead off as to create some runs which were hard to come by last season. Things will not get better overnight, but this is a team that could become a conference power in a few years.

Wake Forest

2014 Record: 30-26 (15-15)

Postseason: Lost ACC play-in game

Player to Watch: 3B/RHP Will Craig

After a few years at the bottom of the conference, Wake Forest returned to the ACC tournament in 2014 yet suffered a quick exit. A 5-3 loss to eventual champion Georgia Tech killed the Deacons’ national tournament hopes. With their star freshmen returning, expect to see them back in the hunt this year. Nate Mondou found his spot at 2B last year and delivered several clutch at bats. On the other side of the diamond, Will Craig became the starting 3B and was also used on the mound where he made 7 appearances. While he hopefully won’t have to take the mound this year, Craig along with Mondou show the talent to take the Demon Deacons back to the NCAA tournament.

Overall, it’s shaping up to be a exciting baseball season in the ACC. Each week, I will be posting updates on the ACC baseball season so stay tuned to The Confidential for all the ACC baseball news.

2015 ACC Indoor Track and Field Preview

While once only used by top athletes, indoor track and field has become a common winter sport among high schools and colleges. For those of you new to indoor track, let me first explain a few differences between indoor and outdoor track.

First, the indoor track is half the length of an outdoor track. The track is 200m which makes distance events double in number of laps. There is also a 60 meter track in the middle of oval for the sprint events (that run 60m instead of 100m). Finally, due to the sharpness of the curves, some tracks have banked turns (i.e. Virginia Tech’s Rector Fieldhouse) while others are flat tracks making times a little slower (i.e. UNC’s Eddie Smith Fieldhouse).

Mens preview

Last season saw Florida State win it’s 9th title in the last 12 years (not counting it’s vacated 2007 title). The Seminoles’ strength was in their jumpers as they won 3 of the 4 jumping events (high, triple, and long jumps). After only losing one of those athletes to graduation, Florida State looks like a strong contender to repeat.

Last year’s runner up may also be a strong contender. UNC came up 8 points short last year and with most of their team back, those 8 points could be made up with other team’s graduations. The Tar Heels were the runners up in the 5k and the 4×4 relay and the winners of those events have graduated.

The toughest competition may come from Notre Dame who took 3rd in the conference last year. The Irish won the 400m, 5k, and distance medley relay on their way to finishing only 5 points behind UNC. With the majority of their distance team returning, Notre Dame may find themselves in the running for their 3rd ACC title.

Prediction: Florida State

Call me crazy, but it’s hard to bet against a dynasty. Just like in football, beating FSU is no small task and it will take a special team to beat them.

Womens preview

Florida State also took home the womens indoor track title last year with a 13.5 point victory over Duke. This win broke Clemson’s streak of 4 straight ACC indoor championships. There’s no clear favorite this year as both FSU and Duke lost many of their key runners to graduation. Obviously, these teams are still in contention, but graduation may have opened the door for some other teams.

Miami won 4 events last year, but lacked the depth to contend for the title. The Hurricanes return all 4 of the champions from last year. If they can find a way to place higher in some other events, they have a good shot at the title. Similarly, Virginia Tech and Clemson each return two champions from last year, but like Miami, finished low in the overall standings due to lack of depth.

Notre Dame may benefit the most from graduations this season. They finished 3rd last year despite only winning the 60m hurdles. With some graduations, the Irish could bridge the 31.5 point gap from last year.

Prediction: Florida State

The Seminoles return the champions of the 1 mile and the long jump. They beat a senior heavy Duke by 13.5 and every other team by at least 30. That’s a large margin that will be tough for any team to overcome.

So I predict 2 repeats this year in indoor track. What do you think? Will there be an upset this year?

Week 7 ACC Preview & Game Thread

Welcome to Week #7.  Check out our latest poll, and remember to get your week’s entry in for our fantasy football contest.  It is free… with prizes.   And you can join anytime.  Here are this week’s games:


#1 Florida State (5-0) @ Syracuse (2-3).  If all was going well for Syracuse, we would think Florida State would win comfortably.  But all is NOT well for Syracuse, which is suffering from such poor offensive performance that it is making midseason coaching changes of questionable appropriateness (to some).  Meanwhile, Syracuse will be playing without its QB (Hunt), as well as its two biggest offensive threats (Broyld/Estime).  So…   this one will likely get ugly.  You probably do not want to let young children watch.

Cincinnati (2-2) @ Miami (3-3), 12:00 pm.  As much as the Confidential likes Al Golden, it is questionable whether he is losing the fan base.  Miami has had enough “average” seasons recently.  It has been mostly mediocriami of late.  They are looking for something more.  At the same time, Golden seems to be beating the beatable teams–which is a start.  If Cincinnati does not have Kiel at the QB position, the Hurricanes should get to 4-3.

Duke (4-1) @ #22 Georgia Tech (5-0), 12:30 pm.  The narrative is that the ACC Atlantic is way ahead of the ACC Coastal.  But Duke/Georgia Tech have the same number of losses as FSU/Louisville.  If Georgia Tech can somehow run the table, it would be HUGE for the ACC.  So far, the Yellow Jackets have beaten Virginia Tech and Miami, two huge foes.  Duke is the next biggest foe.  This is a game that the old Georgia Tech loses.  Meanwhile, Duke is just as likely to win the Coastal–making this a game that may decide who gets to play (likely) Florida State in Game #13.  HUGE game!

Boston College (3-2) @ North Carolina State (4-2), 3:30 pm.  It is hard to figure out BC, who has beaten USC and lost to Colorado State.  North Carolina State is easy to figure out–having beaten 4 weak teams and having lost to Florida State (narrowly) and Clemson (not so narrowly).  If NC State wins, it will say something about how the first 6 games prepared them for the more doable last six.  If NC State loses, one begins to question whether the team peaked during the Florida State game.  Either way, one of these teams will move closer to a realistic bowl game.

North Carolina (2-3) @ #6 Notre Dame (5-0) 3:30 pm.  This game is big for ACC fans.  If Notre Dame can get by UNC, this will have them travel to Florida State at 6-0–which is good for both teams.  If UNC beats Notre Dame somehow, this will prevent FSU from having an important scheduling boost.  North Carolina is reeling, especially on defense, which should bode well for the Fighting Irish.  Notre Dame having a good season helps the ACC.  It just does.

ACC GAME OF THE WEEK: Louisville (5-1) @ Clemson (3-2), 3:30 pm. Regardless of the Coastal, these may be the two best teams in the ACC not named Florida State.  If it is so, it is because both teams have stout defenses–even if not able to stop Florida State (Louisville will get its chance).  These two teams may also be battling for second to Florida State in terms of fan passion, which is why this game was elevated to Game of the Week over the Coastal showdown between Duke and Georgia Tech.  The Confidential is looking forward to seeing whether Bobby Petrino’s defensive staff can stop the Clemson offense.  An equal challenge is whether they can move the ball against a defense that is likely better than Virginia’s.  This is a game to watch.

What do you think?   Let us know your thoughts during the games on Saturday too…





Week 6 ACC Preview

Welcome to Week #6.  Check out our latest poll, and remember to get your week’s entry in for our fantasy football contest.  It is free… with prizes.   And you can join anytime.  Here are this week’s games:


Louisville (4-1) @ Syracuse (2-2), 7:00 p.m.  Louisville’s season is off to a good start–even if not the national champion contender season that last year was.  In contrast, Syracuse is a reeling, desperate team.  It does not get easier for the Orange, with Florida State and Clemson looming.  If the Orange can win this one, they have a realistic bowl chance.  That gives them the ability to “only” win three of Pitt, BC, NC State, and Wake Forest.


Virginia Tech (3-2) @ North Carolina (2-2), 12:30 pm.  The Hokies have fallen off the map after a win over Ohio State.  North Carolina has been awful on defense.  With a wide-open Coastal, neither of these teams can afford a second conference loss.  Larry Fedora’s squad needs this game badly.

NC State (4-1) @ Clemson (2-2), 3:30 pm.  After last week’s near shocker against Florida State, nobody would blame you for thinking that Clemson could be upset here.  However, with a new QB, and two-thirds of its toughest games played, the Tigers are looking to go on a run.  NC State can win.  The more likely result is that Clemson will continue righting the ship.

Wake Forest (2-3) @ #1 Florida State (4-0), 3:30 pm.  The Seminoles made it interesting last week, sending a message that this is not last year’s team.  With or without Winston.  Although Florida State rallied to win, it was an ugly win by any definition.  Wake Forest has played good defense, but they have not faced anything like what Florida State will bring to the table offensively.  And Florida State’s surprisingly weak defense gets a chance to get confidence against a struggling Demon Deacons offense.

Pittsburgh (3-2) @ Virginia (3-2), 7:30 pm.  It was bad enough for Pitt to lose to Iowa.  Losing to Akron… at home… was an embarrassment.  Now the Panthers travel to a rejuvenated Virginia, who is already above last year’s win total.  Both schools are 1-0 in conference play, with Pitt beating BC and Virginia beating Louisville.  Virginia’s losses to BYU and UCLA are nothing to be ashamed of.  Gotta figure the Wahoos will take care of business.

Miami (3-2) @ Georgia Tech (4-0), 7:30 pm.  Hurricane sighting last week!  Miami got back on track with a very nice win over a good Duke team.  Georgia Tech had three unimpressive wins for surprising everyone with a win over Virginia Tech.  The Yellow Jackets can win this game and gain a leg up in the Coastal.  Miami’s Al Golden cannot afford another let down.  Miami is not about 6 win seasons… it is about 8+ win seasons.  4-2 at the halfway point is exactly what the Hurricanes need.

ACC GAME OF THE WEEK: #14 Stanford (3-1) @ #9 Notre Dame (4-0), 8:00 pm. Last week, Notre Dame showed it could overcome 5 turnovers and still win handily over Syracuse.  The win over Michigan now looks dubious.  Of course, Stanford’s loss to USC looks bad, especially given that BC beat USC and then lost to Colorado State.  Notre Dame’s defense looks as solid as ever this year, and Stanford is routinely stout on defense.  Expect this one to be fairly low scoring.  Notre Dame’s home field advantage and veteran QB should be the difference.

What do you think?





The Confidential’s 2013 Football Preview

For long-time followers of the Confidential, you are familiar with our weekly polls.  This year, we will not begin our poll until after the Week 1 games.  This is something that we would like to see the major polls also do.  Watch some games before deciding 1 to 25.  But what we WILL do is provide our expectations regarding the tiers for the ACC teams (plus Notre Dame and Louisville).

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Do the Tar Heels Have a Height Problem?

Around halfway through the season last year UNC coach Roy Williams realized that his team was at their best when they went small. He plugged shooting guard P.J. Hairston into the starting lineup and played with only one big in James Michael Mcadoo. UNC went on to string off several impressive victories before making a deep run in the ACC tournament.

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