The Duke basketball team is picked to finish 2nd in the ACC this season, according to the conference preview from Sports Illustrated.
The predictions are made based on a statistical projection system, which evidently has the Blue Devils finishing as the runner-up to North Carolina. Considering all the talent and experience the Tar Heels return this season, it’s not particularly surprising.
While North Carolina takes the top spot, the statistics actually forecast a 13-5 conference record for North Carolina, Duke, and Virginia. The past two years have taught us that it’d be foolish to underestimate Tony Bennett and the Cavaliers.
The preview also includes scoring projections for each team and has Grayson Allen being the leading scorer for Duke this season. It also lists Brandon Ingram, Derryck Thornton, and Amile Jefferson as potential double-digit scorers. We’ll see how accurate that is.
The preview doesn’t predict Luke Kennard will be one of Duke’s top seven scorers, which I think is a mistake.
For the major awards, SI selected North Carolina’s Marcus Paige as the ACC Player of the Year, Florida State’s Leonard Hamilton as Coach of the Year, and Duke’s Brandon Ingram as Freshman of the Year.
If Ingram wins the award, he’d be the third consecutive Blue Devil to earn the recognition, and fourth in the past 5 years. Jahlil Okafor and Jabari Parker were the last two players to be named ACC Rookie of the Year, and Austin Rivers won the award in 2012.