ACC Basketball Season Preview Part 2: Florida State, Georgia Tech and Maryland

Streeter Lecka

This is part two of a five part series which will preview the ACC basketball season three teams at a time. At the end of the previews I will release my initial ACC basketball power rankings since that appears to be my thing. Enjoy!

Football season is going strong and conference games have begun, but basketball season is right around the corner. It's time to start previewing the ACC's premier sport.

Check out the previews for BC, Clemson and Duke here.

Florida State: 2012-2013  (18-16, 9-9 ACC)
Offensive Rating: 105.0
Defensive Rating: 101.1
Key Returning Players: Okaro White, Devon Bookert and Ian Miller
Key Additions: Jarquez Smith
Key Losses: Michael Snaer, Terrance Shannon, Terry Whisnant
% Scoring Returned: 64%
% Minutes Returned: 70%
%Rebounds Returned: 63%

In 2012 the Florida State Seminoles owned Atlanta and won the ACC Tournament for the first time in their program's history. Last season, after having lost a significant portion of their team due to graduation, they still managed to make the NIT even though they only went 18-16. Leonard Hamilton routinely has very tall teams, and this year is no different as they return seven players over 6' 5". Michael "buzzer beater" Snaer is a big loss for the Seminoles as is expected freshman sensation Xavier Rathan-Mayes being declared academically ineligible.

Florida State will look to wing Okaro White to provide them with an offensive spark this season. White led the team in offensive rating last year at a very efficient 117.6 (100 is average). White is an efficient scorer, gets to the foul line with regularity, and converts more than 80% of his free throws when he gets to the charity stripe. His length and leaping ability also allows him to block a lot of shots and grab offensive rebounds.

Due to the loss of Michael Snaer, Florida State will probably take another step backwards this year, and could struggle to make the NIT. Leonard Hamilton will need players like Devon Bookert to continue his efficiency on the offensive end and for Ian Miller to return to the form he had his sophomore season. Florida State has a lot of very interesting non-conference games against VCU, Florida and Minnesota. Florida State should also finish around the bottom third of the league.

Georgia Tech: 2012-2013  (16-15, 6-12 ACC)
Offensive Rating: 98.2
Defensive Rating: 91.8
Key Returning Players: Robert Carter, Marcus Georges-Hunt and Daniel Miller
Key Additions: Travis Jorgenson
Key Losses: Mfon Udofia
% Scoring Returned: 77%
% Minutes Returned: 72%
%Rebounds Returned: 74%

Brian Gregory is quietly assembling a very solid roster down in Atlanta. His first season at Georgia Tech (2011-2012) the Yellow Jackets finished 11-20 (178th in KenPom), but last season they improved to 16-15 (94th in KenPom). They were able to make this jump mostly be increasing their defensive efficiency and allowing nearly 7 fewer points per 100 possessions and scoring nearly 3 points more per 100 possessions. The problem Georgia Tech has is that they cannot make jump shots. The Yellow Jackets shot a woeful 31.8% from 3's last season, which was 261st nationally. To make matters worse, they lost two of their best 3 point shooters in Mfon Udofia and Brandon Reed.

How big of a jump Georgia Tech will make this season really depends on the continued development of Robert Carter, Jr. Carter had a very good freshman campaign last season especially in terms of rebounding and blocking shots. He was below average in terms of his offensive efficiency, but you would expect him to experience large gains in his sophomore season and become above average. Carter shot 64 3-pointers last season but only made 28% of those. Improving his shot selection alone should increase his overall efficiency. I expect Robert Carter, Jr. to make the jump this year and become one of the best post players in the conference.

Georgia Tech should be improved this season and I believe they will make the NIT, but I don't believe they have enough offensive firepower to make the NCAA Tournament. Marcus Georges-Hunt had a very strong freshman season and should only get better this season. With Robert Carter, Georges-Hunt and senior Daniel Miller, the Yellow Jackets have a strong corps, but I don't believe that group will be enough to make the dance coming out of the very powerful ACC.

Editor's addition: Gary Parrish of CBS Sports is reporting that former Tennessee guard Trae Golden has been ruled eligible to play immediately by the NCAA.  Golden should help out Georgia Tech tremendously considering the loss of last year's point guard, Mfon Udofia. Last season Golden had a very efficient offensive rating of 107.2 as well as a very high assist rate. He is also excellent at drawing fouls and he converts 78% of his free throw attempts. Look for Robert Carter Jr. to greatly benefit from an experienced point guard. This addition should definitely put them into the NIT.

Maryland: 2012-2013  (25-13, 8-10 ACC)
Offensive Rating: 106.2
Defensive Rating: 92.3
Key Returning Players: Dez Wells, Seth Allen
Key Additions: Roddy Peters (4*), Evan Smotrycz (transfer)
Key Losses: Alex Len
% Scoring Returned: 63%
% Minutes Returned: 62%
%Rebounds Returned: 55%

Last season Maryland returned to the postseason for the first time since 2010. Although the Terrapins did not make the NCAA Tournament, they still made it to the NIT Semi-Finals, and will hope to build onto that momentum heading into the 2013-2014 season. They will have to do so, however, without the help of center Alex Len who was drafted 5th overall in the 2013 NBA Draft by the Phoenix Suns. Len led Maryland in offensive rating, offensive rebounding %, defensive rebounding %, block%, and free throw rate (I like KenPom stats). Maryland was effective on offense and defense last season mostly due to being 32nd in offensive rebounding rate and 41st in defensive rebounding rate. The loss of Len is huge for that reason and Maryland will need Charles Mitchell and Shaquille Cleare to keep their rebounding numbers up even with increased minutes.

Dez Wells is an absolute workhorse who is built like a running back. Maryland received a gift when Wells was wrongfully expelled from  Xavier. Wells was Maryland's leading scorer last season and led the team in effective field goal percentage. Wells is also an excellent attacker of the basket, but will have to improve upon his 3 point shooting (33%) to become even more effective this season. Evan Smotrycz, transfer from Michigan, is a huge addition to Maryland's squad this season due to Maryland losing their best 3-point shooter in Logan Aronhalt. Jake Layman took 117 3's last year, but only made 30% of them.

Maryland should finish in the top half of the league and make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2010, but they must cut down on their turnovers now that they will not be able to rely on offensive rebounds so much. Maryland turned the ball over on more than 22% of their possessions last season, which ranked them 292nd nationally. Seth Allen is a year older now and Pe'Shon  Howard transferred, so that should mean fewer turnovers for the Terrapins. Mark Turgeon has been an excellent hire for Maryland, and they should only continue getting better for years to come based on their 2014 recruiting class.


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