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The Confidential

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Archive for the tag “preseason”

The Confidential’s ACC Basketball Preseason Rankings

The Confidential’s football top 15 rankings are a regular thing.  With basketball right around the corner, it is time to roll out a preseason ranking.  This is sure to fire up some folks–but, remember, no games have even been played yet.  And if bubble teams can make Final Fours every few years, even a middle of the pack team has a chance.  In any event, here are the preseason rankings:

  1. Duke. Duke is as stacked as ever, with top recruits and a lot of returning experience surrounding Grayson Allen.  More than enough ingredients for Coach K to bake a Final Four cake.     
  2. North Carolina.  The Tar Heels have lost considerable talent, but Virginia and Syracuse have lost a lot too.  It will probably be a step back, but don’t be surprised to see UNC in the hunt to win the ACC.
  3. Syracuse.  Huh?  Syracuse lost some players to the NBA off a team that barely eked into the Big Dance, but has had an influx of transfers to fill out the roster.  Hard to argue against that.
  4. Virginia.  The Wahoos are one of several teams battling for the #2 spot behind Duke, and a potential surprise to win it all.  One wonders if there will be a hangover from the difficult loss to Syracuse in the Big Dance last year.
  5. Louisville.  A very good team.  And even if it is not in November, Rick Pitino will find a way to make them even more dangerous by March.
  6. Florida StateThe second tier is led by Florida State, who is capable of threatening to rise to the top tier under Leonard Hamilton.
  7. MiamiThe Hurricanes take a step back this year, but don’t expect them to drop TOO far.  The Florida hoops teams are doing quite well of late.
  8. Notre DameThe Fighting Irish lost a great player, but still return three starters.
  9. Virginia TechSooner or later, Buzz Williams will have the Hokies making some noise.
  10. Clemson.  Clemson had a few nice upsets last year and will look to build on that this year.
  11. Wake Forest.  Danny Manning has things moving in the right direction.
  12. Pittsburgh.  The loss of Jamie Dixon will be felt this year.
  13. North Carolina State.  The offense will lag behind the defense this year.
  14. Georgia Tech.  Still rebuilding under Josh Pastner.
  15. Boston College.  Oh well.

Projected NCAA bids: BOLD.  Projected Post-Season bids: Italics.

What do you think?  How would you rank the top 5, top 10, and/or top 15? 

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The Confidential’s ACC Football Roundtable: Week 1

Every week, some or all of the Confidential’s correspondents will “roundtable” issues regarding the ACC, as well as recapping the week that was and previewing the week to come.  As we are just hours away from the season starting, we are looking forward exclusively this week.

Q1: Which ACC team is the biggest risk for being an upset victim in Week 1?

Steve Callahan (Notre Dame):  Pittsburgh Panthers.  Many ACC teams play weak competition in week 1, with teams like Charlotte, Liberty, William & Mary, and Florida A&M lined up to face ACC teams. I’ll go with the Pittsburgh Panthers to possibly falling victim an upset to the Villanova Wildcats. Even though they are a FCS team, the Wildcats have talent on the offensive side of the ball and will looking to upset their in-state opponent to send a message in week one.

Harrison Huntley (NC State): Hard to say what is and isn’t an upset this early in the season, but we do know that Clemson is in a lot of playoff projections, and this isn’t a gimme with Auburn. This is an SEC team that runs the kind of offense that is tough to prepare for. Sure they had the whole offseason, but the Tigers probably have other things to worry about.

Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): Syracuse better be very, very ready for Colgate, an experienced team.  Not a gimme.  I disagree with Villanova only because I think Pitt under Narduzzi is the real deal.  They may not win the Coastal, but this is not the typical mediocre Pitt coaching hire.  So I will go with Tulane over Wake Forest.  Assuming the former Georgia Southern coaches can implement some semblance of what they did before at Tulane, Wake Forest may get itself into a shootout.  If so, could be trouble.

Q2: What are the three things your school’s team must do to win in Week 1?

Steve Callahan (Notre Dame): With Notre Dame kicking the season off at Texas, the Fighting Irish must take the excitement out of the crowd and score first. If they can build an early lead and have the Longhorns play catch up, they will be in better position to win. The second key to victory is to put pressure on true freshman quarterback Shane Buechele early and often. The third key is to get the ball in the hands of captain Torii Hunter Jr.’s hands, as he will set the stone for the otherwise young receiving corps the Irish have.

Harrison Huntley (NC State): 3 things? I hope it doesn’t take 3 things to beat William and Mary. They beat State in basketball, so I guess it isn’t out of the question, but there’s no reason this shouldn’t be a win. I’m a big FCS guy, and W&M isn’t North Dakota State. More than 3 things would have to go horribly wrong for this to be a loss.

Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): Syracuse is many years past where it could look past an FCS school.  This is just reality.  Villanova should have beaten Syracuse and Colgate may be more primed to pull an upset.  Syracuse will need to avoid turnovers–which give instant life to an opponent.  While most will be concerned about Syracuse looking past Colgate, what is even more important is that Syracuse use its superior athletes–bigger players should push around smaller players, faster players should play faster than slower players–and so on.  Up to the coaches to use the size and speed advantages.  And then, of course, fundamentals…block, tackle, hang on to the ball, avoid penalties…. amazing how often that matters.

Q3: What would have to happen for your school to lose in Week 1?

Steve Callahan (Notre Dame): The Fighting Irish would have to come out unfocused and nervous to lose in week one, as a defense with six starters should feast against a true freshman quarterback in his first start.

Harrison Huntley (NC State): There’s no QB1 or QB2 on the depth chart, so both would have to play terrible. Add on some injuries to the running game, and the defense would just have to implode.

Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): It would not take much, sadly.  If Syracuse is turnover prone or allows a special teams touchdown, it could be game on.  If Syracuse starts slow, Colgate will stay in the game that much longer.  In the end, if you give an FCS team reason for hope, expect them to run with it.  We have seen it far too many times at Syracuse–from Coach P losing to Rutgers/Temple when they were miserably awful… to Doug Marrone allowing Maine to hang in there… to Scott Shafer nearly losing to Villanova.  And, of course, we see it every year during the Big Dance (looking at you, Middle Tennessee State).

Well, that is what these correspondents think.  What do you think?  Please feel free to share below.  And if you are interested in being a correspondent, see here.

The Confidential’s ACC Football Roundtable: Preseason 2016

Every week, some or all of the Confidential’s correspondents will “roundtable” issues regarding the ACC, as well as recapping the week that was and previewing the week to come.  As we are still in the preseason, we are looking forward exclusively this week.

Q1: OK, with the football season right around the corner, who are the 5 best teams in the ACC (including Notre Dame) in order?  Which two are playing in the ACC Championship Game?  And who, if anyone, from the ACC will make the playoffs?

Steve Callahan (Notre Dame):  The Clemson Tigers are the best team in the ACC. Following them, is Florida State, Notre Dame, North Carolina, and the Miami Hurricanes.  ACC Title Game: FSU vs UNC. Playoffs: FSU

Harrison Huntley (NC State): Clemson, FSU, Miami, UNC, Louisville. Clemson and Miami playing in Charlotte.  I think any ACC champ would make the playoff assuming they only have a loss or two

Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): 1, Clemson; 2, FSU; 3. Notre Dame; 4. Miami; 5. Louisville.  Clemson vs Miami, with Clemson in the playoffs.

Q2: Looking objectively at your team, which team is your team most likely to upset?  And which team is most likely to upset your team?

Steve Callahan (Notre Dame): With an early home game and the Spartans having holes to fill in their starting offensive line, the Irish have a very good chance of beating Michigan State at home in the third week of the season. Since the Fighting Irish’s schedule doesn’t give them many opportunities to pull off an upset, Michigan State would be my choice, even if they are close in the rankings.  With only three away games this season, Notre Dame will avoid hostile environments and be less likely to get upset. I will pick the Miami Hurricanes as one team who can upset the Irish this season. Quarterback Brad Kaaya is special and will be looking to increase his draft stock with a big win in South Bend.

Harrison Huntley (NC State): That’s easy: FSU. It’s in Raleigh, and for whatever reason, NC State always does well against the Noles at home. I think Syracuse has the best chance to pull an upset, just because it’s on the road. Normally I’d say BC or Wake, but both are at home this year so State SHOULD be ok against these guys.

Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): Most Syracuse fans will say Virginia Tech because it is a home game.  But in Week 2, Louisville will have very little film to scout (and Colgate may not provide a preview of the entire offense), a Syracuse team without depth may be as healthy as it will be for any game all year, Louisville will still be “green” on its own, Syracuse is at home, etc.  I would not bet your kids’ lunch money on an upset, but it is my pick.  As for upsetting Syracuse, it is difficult with so few games to choose from. UConn is likely to be an underdog if Syracuse starts strong, so look for that as a potential loss in the same spirit as the USF win over Syracuse last year.  Sadly.  Frankly, it would be better for the ACC if B.C. or Wake Forest is the answer to this question–but both may be favored.

Q3: Who is one offensive player from your school for fans of other schools to keep an eye on in 2016?

Steve Callahan (Notre Dame): I know it may be cliché to choose the starting running back, but Tarean Folston is ready to be the star of the Notre Dame offensive attack. Folston was all set to be the starter last season but tore his ACL after three rushing attempts in the season opener. In 2014, Folston had four 100-yard rushing games, including 120 yards and a touchdown at #2 Florida State. Keep an eye out for the senior running back, who will be playing with a chip on his shoulder.

Harrison Huntley (NC State): You won’t see Jaylen Samuels on many watch lists, but that’s because he has no position. He can play RB, WR, TE, and anywhere in the backfield. He’s big and fast, a great combination.

Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): In this Dino Babers system, gotta go with the QB: Eric Dungey.  If he stays healthy and grasps the system, Dungey could put up huge numbers.  But those are some big “ifs” to watch for.  With a fairly decent compliment of skill players (relative to past seasons), we really may see Syracuse play fast and be fast.

Q4: Who is one defensive or special teams player for fans of other schools to take notice of?

Steve Callahan (Notre Dame): Cole Luke will be the leader in the secondary. The senior is coming off a little disappointing season after his breakout sophomore season. Luke only had 6 passes defended last year meanwhile he had 11 in 2014. Watch the 5’11” senior come back to form in his last year with the Fighting Irish.

Harrison Huntley (NC State): Nyheim Hines is a guy that’s so fast, he lines up at RB and WR. This speed is what makes him a great option when returning kicks and punts

Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): After 7 years of Scott Shafer as defensive coordinator and head coach, and with a very inexperienced and not-so-deep defense, this could be a struggle.  All the more reason that Syracuse will need to score a lot and actually convert turnovers (however many) into points.  With linebacker perhaps the area with most returning depth, and Zaire Franklin the junior that was a captain last year as a sophomore MLB likely to anchor that unit, watch Franklin.

Well, that is what these correspondents think.  What do you think?  Please feel free to share below.  And if you are interested in being a correspondent, see here.

The 2015 Confidential Preseason ACC Football Poll

FOOTBALL IS BACK!   ACC FOOTBALL IS BACK!   It looks to be a promising year for the ACC, as many experienced quarterbacks return and there is significant coaching stability.  While Wake Forest and Virginia may be the long shots to get to bowl eligibility in each division, there is a significant regression to the mean with FSU losing Winston (among others) and everyone else improving.   In any event, with football here, it is time for the Confidential’s preseason football poll–with 5 Confidential correspondents participating.  Remember to join our individual player fantasy league and our survivor leagues… they are FREE, easy to play, and have CA$H prizes to the winners.  In any event, here is the first poll results, with links to the Confidential’s over/under for each school:

  1. Florida State (48 points, 3 first place votes).  The Seminoles have lost of a lot, but most people figure that they will stay on top.  Jimbo Fisher has reloaded, making it fairly likely.
  2. Clemson (45 points, 2 first place votes).  Quarterback is an essential position in football and Clemson has a dynamic one.  With studs at WR and a solid defense (despite some losses), Clemson has a legitimate claim to the division and conference title.
  3. Notre Dame (38 points).  The Fighting Irish are not sufficiently ACC to be eligible to win it, but they will be good.  Whether they are the 3rd best team of the 15 remains to be seen.  That is the preseason position though.
  4. Georgia Tech (36 points).  The Yellow Jackets may be ready to reclaim the Coastal.  Pitt is loaded at skill positions, Virginia Tech is always a threat, Miami is desperate for a return to greatness, and Duke/UNC want to be more than hoops schools.  We will see.
  5. Louisville (29 points).  The Cardinals are flying under the radar, which is probably how Bobby Petrino likes it.  Certainly not going to resign themselves to the perpetual #3 spot in the Atlantic.
  6. Virginia Tech (27 points).  Is this about name recognition or potential?  The Hokies have not been their typically football selves lately.
  7. NC State (14 points).  With such an easy schedule, it will be hard for NC State not to get to bowl eligibility.  Does that make them better than the schools below them in win totals?  Debatable.
  8. Miami (13 points).  If Miami had NC State’s schedule, perhaps the schools would flip-flop.  Then again, Miami finds new ways to disappoint ever year.  Still waiting for that first Coastal division championship…
  9. North Carolina (12 points).  With solid skill players, the real question is whether that defense can improve.  With new coaching blood on that side of the ball, time will tell.
  10. Boston College (5 points).  For the past two years, Boston College has gone toe-to-toe with Florida State, Clemson, and USC (winning too!).  Regardless of talent, good to see them in this final position in the poll.

Others: Pitt (3 points), Duke (3 points).  Syracuse, Virginia, and Wake Forest did not receive votes.

See the team pages for more analysis.  Welcome any criticism too…

Pre-Season Confidential Poll: August 27, 2014

Kickoff is about 24 hours away.  If you have not done so, get your fantasy football entries in for Week 1.  We have a prize running for Weeks 1 through 4 that is in addition to the season-long prize.  Returning to the poll… the elders here at the Confidential rank the ACC as follows:

  1. Florida State (50 points, 5 first place votes).   The Seminoles are the team to beat in the ACC and nationwide.  A tougher schedule makes a repeat quite a daunting task though.
  2. Clemson (44 points).  The Tigers get Georgia in Week 1 and South Carolina to close the season.  NC State… aren’t you embarrassed about your OOC schedule?  Duke too!
  3. Miami (33 points).  Some say Golden is on the hot seat.  That is absurd. But Miami is long overdue for a great season.
  4. Louisville (31 points).  The Parker injury dropped the Cardinals one point, but that is all.
  5. North Carolina (28 points).  North Carolina is everyone’s sleeper in the Coastal.  Maybe, by definition, they are no longer a sleeper?
  6. Duke (25 points).  Cupcake city for Duke again this year on the gridiron.  Where is Dick Vitale to point that out.  Oh, probably watching Notre Dame football.
  7. Notre Dame (24 points). Speaking of the Fighting Irish, they are a tough team to figure out.  The suspensions may be an issue also.
  8. Virginia Tech (19 points).  Virginia Tech is the last school to be on all of the Confidential ballots.  Virginia Tech can’t look ahead to a Braxton Miller-less Ohio State.  All FCS teams are capable of pulling the upset.
  9. Syracuse (9 points).  Anything can happen for the Orange this year.  4 wins to 9 wins…. is any of it a surprise.
  10. Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh (5 points).  These Coastal teams are hard to separate.  As they all are.

Others: Boston College (2 points).  Wake Forest, Virginia, and North Carolina State did not receive any votes.

What do YOU think?  What is your top 10?

Pre- Pre-Season Confidential Poll: August 11, 2014

Well, football season is really right around the corner–in three weeks we will be talking about actual wins and losses, rather than potential and hope.  Ranking the ACC teams (plus Notre Dame) is very challenging.  First, Florida State may be in a class of their own.  The Atlantic is largely a race for second-place, with no real certainty as to how Louisville and Clemson will respond to replacing departing stars.  Second, the Coastal is so wide-open… only Virginia really seems unlikely to win it all.  With all that, these rankings are only worth so much.  But here they are:

  1. Florida State (50 points, 5 first place votes).   The Seminoles are the team to beat in the ACC and nationwide.  A tougher schedule makes a repeat quite a daunting task though.
  2. Clemson (44 points).  The Tigers remain fairly loaded, despite having to replace a lot of skill-player production.  As always, Clemson will challenge itself early and often out-of-conference.
  3. Miami (33 points).  Sooner or later Miami will have to win the Coastal.  Is it this year?
  4. Louisville (32 points).  The Cards get plenty of love early.  The schedule is substantially more difficult for Bobby Petrino v 2.0.
  5. (tie) Notre Dame and Duke (26 points).  People hate Duke basketball and Notre Dame football.  But these academic heavyweights are looking to have outstanding football seasons.
  6. (tie) see above.
  7. North Carolina (21 points).  Much like one wonders when Miami will return to prominence, one wonders if North Carolina will ever be a serious football threat.  Mack Brown was able to do it.  But not much else.  Maybe 2014 will be the year.
  8. Virginia Tech (20 points).  Virginia Tech is the last school to be on all of the Confidential ballots.  Frank Beamer has been legendary, but is he running out of juice?
  9. Syracuse (10 points).  The Orange are one of those teams with a huge range of potential… not too many win totals would be a total surprise.  With a year under the belts of their quarterback and head coach, expectations are on the higher side.
  10. Pittsburgh (6 points).  The Panthers are a team that generally recruits well.  Someone on ESPN even picked them to win the Coastal.  Not sure if they are ready for that kind of jump, but you never know.

Others: Georgia Tech (5 points), Boston College (2 points).  Wake Forest, Virginia, and North Carolina State did not receive any votes.

What do YOU think?  What is your top 10?

The Confidential’s Preseason All-ACC Team

With football season about 30 days away, now is as good a time as ever to distribute the 2014 Preseason All-ACC teams.  So, without further adieu, here are the First, Second, and Third teams.

FIRST TEAM ALL-ACC

QB:       Jameis Winston, Florida State

RB:       Duke Johnson, Miami; Karlos Williams, Florida State

WR:      Jamison Crowder, Duke; Tyler Boyd, Pittsburgh; Rashad Greene, Florida State

TE:        Nick O’Leary, Florida State;

OL:       Cameron Erving, Florida State; Sean Hickey, Syracuse; Tre Jackson, Florida State; Laken Tomlinson, Duke; Shaq Mason, Georgia Tech

DL:       Vic Beasley, Clemson; Mario Edwards, Jr., Florida State; Luther Muddy, Virginia Tech; Grady Jarrett, Clemson

LB:       Denzel Perryman, Miami; Stephone Anthony, Clemson; Kelby Brown, Duke; Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech

DB:       Anthony Harris, Virginia; Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech; Jeremy Cash, Duke; PJ Williams, Florida State

ST:        Roberto Aguayo (K), Florida State

Continue to 2nd and 3rd team…

Read more…

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