1. Every football season, we bloggers and pundits preach the importance of the league to perform well out of conference to improve the league's image. Basketball certainly has a much better reputation historically, but do you think the ACC has some work to do before league play starts to get back to being viewed as the NCAA's standard-bearer for the sport? Could a dominant or lackluster performance in November and December significantly help or hurt the ACC's reputation or are most folks' opinions about ACC basketball pretty set?
I think it would take a pretty epically bad non-conference performance for the ACC to be considered anything other than one of the top basketball conferences in the country. Right now the league has the best team in the nation and as long as the main supporting cast doesn't lose to anyone horrible, the league will be fine. What can help improve the reputation more than where it's at is if Virginia Tech and North Carolina can live up to their preseason billing.
2. We've all seen our teams at least once now. Have you seen anything in the limited action thus far that is cause for concern or cause for greater optimism than where your opinion stood just a couple of weeks ago? (non team-specific blogs can answer the question about any one team in particular or the league as a whole.)
My opinion is where it was prior to the start of the season, which is that Virginia Tech is a good team, but not nearly at the level it was pegged at to start the season. The Hokies are very thin underneath and will be able to be pushed around by bigger teams. Tech needs to play smarter against bigger and better teams and not exacerbate their problems by getting into foul trouble or turning the ball over.
Younger players like Jarrell Eddie will continue to improve and will be able to provide quality minutes once we get into conference play, but until then the Hokies are going to find themselves in a lot more tough, close games against quality opponents like Purdue and the teams they'll face at the 76 Classic.
3. Give me your preseason votes for: POY, COY, ROY. Explain.
POY: Kyle Singler. If he has an average year and Duke wins the ACC, he'll run away with the award.
COY: Gary Williams. I think Maryland overachieves this year.
ROY: Harrison Barnes. Last year on one of our podcasts I asked Joe Ovies, "Who the **** is Harrison Barnes?!" I have a feeling I'm about to find out.
4. Which stands the greater probability of reoccurring this season: Duke winning the national title or Carolina returning to the NIT?
Given the alternative, I really, really hope it's Carolina back in the NIT.
5. I can't speak to the attendance figures for most of the other schools in the league, but State's opening matchup against Tennessee Tech was nowhere near a sellout. There were quite a few empty seats in the Dean Dome for the game against Lipscomb, as well. As television and internet technology continue to advance, consumers are starting to get better entertainment value for the dollar staying home rather than paying for tickets to attend the games themselves. In the coming years, how will ADs--struggling to balance very tight budgets--continue to move tickets and put butts in the seats without slashing ticket prices drastically?
They're going to have to schedule better opponents. For the most part, college basketball is like the pros where you can spend the evening downtown and then go to a high-tech arena where there are diversions everywhere. College basketball is about the atmosphere, which is going to be enough for a lot of people and not enough for plenty of others as long as you're playing Tennessee Tech and Lipscomb.
There's a balance. You have to play those teams and pad your Tournament resume for the coaches to be happy and you also have to play Connecticut and Michigan State to get people to show up. You want good atmosphere for a weeknight game against a Big South team? Let the students in for $5 to fill in the vacant seats, or let them in for free and hope they buy their weight in $4 hot dogs.
6. Which team will be the big surprise this season, either exceeding expectations greatly or falling well short of them?
In a negative fashion I think it will be Duke. The Blue Devils are going to miss Zoubek's offensive rebounds and inside game. In a positive fashion I think it will be Maryland. The Terps are young, but they're more experienced than they're given credit for. I don't think they'll miss Vasquez as much as people think and I expect Jordan Williams to have a breakout season.