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Countdown to Tipoff: Previewing Boston College, Pittsburgh, and NC State

The ACC is as deep as it has ever been

NCAA Basketball: Georgia Tech at Louisville Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Boston College Eagles

NCAA Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament-NC State vs Boston College Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

Location: Chestnut Hill, MA

2017-2018 Record: 19-16, 7-11 in conference

Head Coach: Jim Christian, 48-83 at BC, 291-237 overall

Best Season: 1967, 1982, 1994 – Elite Eight

Record vs. Jackets: 12-14

Pre-Season pick: 12th

Leading returning scorer: Ky Bowman, 17.6 points per game.

This looks to be the year that Eagles coach Jim Christian has the talent to turn the corner. Ky Bowman, top returning scorer in the ACC, returns to pair with back-court mate Jordan Chatman to try and replace first round pick Jerome Robinson’s production from last season. There is experience in the front court with 6-11 junior Nik Popovic and 6-8 sophomore Steffon Mitchell returning for another year, Mitchell is the 3rd highest returning rebounder in the ACC. The Eagles will also look to integrate potential impact freshman, Jarius Hamilton, into the experienced rotation. The 6-8 forward from Charlotte scored 2,574 points in three years as a varsity player and was ranked 75th in the 2018 class. It’s almost become an annual occurrence for the Jackets and Eagle to play in the opening round of the ACC tournament, this year might not continue that trend as the Eagle look to continue to improve in the ACC.

Pittsburgh Panthers

NCAA Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament-Notre Dame vs Pittsburgh Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Location: Pittsburgh, PA

2017-2018 Record: 8-24, 0-18 in conference

Head Coach: Jeff Capel, first year at Pitt, 162-110 overall

Best Season: 1941 – Final Four

Record vs. Jackets: 4-8

Pre-Season pick: 15th

Leading returning scorer: Jared Wilson-Frame, 13.0 points per game

Jeff Capel was brought in to begin what looks to be a long term rebuild for the Panthers. Kevin Stallings was let go last season after winning only 4 conference games in 2 seasons and having more roster turnover than a school should have. Capel had a few players leave but was able to convince the leading scorer and some talented underclassmen to not walk out the door. Capel was known for his recruiting prowess while an assistant at Duke and he was able to turn that talent into a decent class for the Panthers, rated 32nd in the country up from 51st the year before. Trey McGowans was the gem of the class, ranked 95th nationally. Capel will be given a long leash to work his recruiting magic and rebuild the Panthers, a few ACC wins would be a step in the right direction.

North Carolina State Wolfpack

NCAA Basketball: Florida State at North Carolina State Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Location: Raleigh, NC

2017-2018 Record: 21-12, 11-7 in conference

Head Coach: Kevin Keats, 21-12 at NC State, 93-40 overall

Best Season: 1974, 1986 – National Champions

Record vs. Jackets: 57-40

Pre-Season pick: 8th

Leading returning scorer: Torin Dorn, 13.9 points per game

The Wolfpack were a surprise team in the ACC last season, with Keats leading them to a tie for 3rd in the conference and a 9 seed in the NCAA tournament. Keats has his hands full trying to recreate last season’s success, they only return three players off last year’s team. Dorn is the leading returning scorer and guards Markell Johnson and Braxton Beverly are the only returning players with experience at NC State, but both are talented, Johnson lead the ACC in assists per game last season and Beverly shot just under .400 from behind the arc. The Wolfpack will look to UNC-Wilmington transfer CJ Bryce to help fill the void, Bryce played for Keats for two seasons as a Seahawk and averaged double figures both seasons, scoring 17.4 his second season. Look for 6-9 forward Wyatt Walker to start out as the main front court option, but Ohio St transfer 6-10 DJ Funderburk fits the more athletic role that Keats looks for in his big men. The Wolfpack surprised the conference last season and are setting themselves up to be that surprise again.