Major conference preview: 5 questions for the ACC
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The ACC remains one of the toughest conferences in the sport, with four of its schools currently ranked among the preseason AP Top 25.

It's produced 15 national champions, including Virginia, the most recent Division I title holders.

While the ACC's powerhouses take most of the spotlight, the balance within the conference could help more of its members punch their ticket into the NCAA Tournament.

After previewing the Big Ten yesterday, here are five questions surrounding the ACC this upcoming season in the second of our six-part college basketball preview:

Does Virginia have enough offensive firepower?

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Tony Bennett's squad finally put it all together in 2018-19 to capture its first-ever national championship a year after the devastating opening-round loss to No. 16 seed UMBC. The Cavaliers have been one of the nation's top defensive units annually under Bennett but have previously lacked the offensive firepower needed to win in March.

Virginia averaged 71.4 points per contest during the 2018-19 campaign, the highest in Bennett's 10-plus years in charge. Their elite defense actually improved the following season but the team posted nearly 15 points less per game after losing their top three scorers - Kyle Guy, De'Andre Hunter, Ty Jerome - to the NBA.

It's hard to see that repeating this upcoming campaign. The Cavaliers reloaded their offense with the addition of Marquette transfer Sam Hauser and four-star recruit Jabri Abdur-Rahim, the son of the longtime NBAer Shareef. Big man Jay Huff returns for his senior year after developing a strong rapport down the stretch with point guard Kihei Clark when the 2019-20 season shut down.

Clark took a huge step forward in his first year running the offense, averaging 10.8 points and finishing 12th in the NCAA with a 37.5 assist percentage last season. If Virginia defends its national title, Clark will have a lot to do with it.

Can Steve Forbes carry his winning ways to Wake Forest?

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Forbes takes over a Wake Forest program that's registered one NCAA Tournament appearance and eight losing campaigns over the past decade. The 55-year-old certainly has a tall task ahead but he's already engineered an impressive turnaround - albeit against weaker competition - at his previous head coaching stop.

The Iowa native built East Tennessee State into one of the top mid-major teams during his five-year run as bench boss. The Buccaneers became a powerhouse in the Southern Conference, winning at least 24 games in each of Forbes' seasons on the sideline as well as a pair of conference tournament titles.

Forbes did finish his tenure with a dominant 130-43 mark but don't expect the Demon Deacons to have immediate success - their top three scorers from last season won't be returning.

The 55-year-old made quite the impression when Wake Forest introduced him as its next head coach. Only time will tell if he's able to leave a similar mark on the school's basketball program.

Can Duke's youth lead them to a 6th national title?

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It's not as if Mike Krzyzewski hasn't had success with a freshmen-led squad. Duke's last national championship came in 2015 when the first-year trio of Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow, and Tyus Jones led the school to their fifth Division I title. Four years later, the Blue Devils nearly made their first Final Four since that run behind the core of Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett, and Cam Reddish.

Incoming five-star recruits Jalen Johnson, Jeremy Roach, and DJ Steward headline another solid class assembled by Coach K. However, Duke's latest crop of freshmen isn't considered in the same realm talent-wise as some of the previous editions.

That's not to say Duke won't be a factor in the ACC or a second-weekend tournament team. Matthew Hurt and Wendell Moore - last year's five-star commits - return for their sophomore seasons while junior forward Joey Baker could develop into an important piece with his ability to stretch the floor.

Each notable player should factor into the program's success this upcoming campaign, but the Blue Devils' ceiling will likely hinge on the freshmen's ability to elevate their game the way Okafor, Winslow, and Jones did five years ago.

How will UNC respond after disastrous 2019-20 campaign?

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The Tar Heels found themselves in uncharted waters last season when they registered the fourth-lowest single-season winning percentage in the program's esteemed history to finish 14-19 overall, including a 6-14 record in ACC play. It was also the first losing season in Roy Williams' Hall of Fame coaching career.

North Carolina should be poised for a bounce-back year despite its recent struggles - even with leading scorer Cole Anthony off to the NBA. Garrison Brooks is coming off a breakthrough junior year and should form a potent frontcourt duo alongside sophomore big man Armando Bacot.

For all the flaws the Tar Heels had a year ago, the school was still the nation's second-best rebounding team. North Carolina could command an even greater advantage on the glass with the addition of five-star centers Day'Ron Sharpe and Walker Kessler.

The Tar Heels have also done well in the backcourt to offset Anthony's departure. McDonald's All-American Caleb Love should immediately slot in as the starting point guard while the program expects four-star combo guard R.J. Davis to add some offensive punch.

Is Georgia Tech ready to make a leap?

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Georgia Tech head coach Josh Pastner hasn't been able to replicate the success he had at Memphis, though his squad did exceed expectations last season. The Yellow Jackets were selected to finish 12th in the ACC's 2019-20 preseason poll but surprised many with their fifth-place finish in conference play.

Guard Jose Alvarado played an instrumental role in his team's 17-win campaign, averaging 14.4 points, four assists, and an ACC-leading 2.2 steals. His backcourt mate Michael Devoe also emerged as the lead offensive weapon, posting a team-high 16 points per game and ranking fifth in the conference with a 47.6% field-goal percentage.

Georgia Tech hasn't made the Big Dance since 2010, but an NCAA Tournament berth is certainly a possibility with their strong guard play.

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Major conference preview: 5 questions for the ACC
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