Welcome back to Part 3 of this year’s ACC preseason power rankings and roster breakdowns. In years past we’ve posted detailed breakdowns of all fourteen other ACC rosters heading into the season and then doing a separate power rankings. This year, to switch it up, we’re unveiling them count-down style in three installments:

Part One: ACC Tournament Day 1 Participants

Part Two: Postseason Bid Chasers

Part Three: Conference Contenders

In this final Part Three, we’ll look at the teams with real chances of making an run at the top of the conference, of hoisting a trophy at the end of the conference tournament. Barring major injuries or other significant disappointments, these teams should all be considered safe bets to make the NCAA Tournament this year (along with Virginia Tech, who at #6 in the last article was very close to cracking this group). But the question is who of these squads is most likely to hang a league banner after this season, and each have reasons to be considered dangerous.

For each team, we’ll look at their finish last year, the percentages of last season’s minutes and points back on this year’s roster, and a roundup of player departures, returns, and additions with last year’s stat line, along with a brief outlook on their 2022-23 prospects. Projected starters are in bold.


#5 – Miami

2021-22 Record: 26-11 (14-6); 4th in ACC

  • % of 2021-22 Minutes Returning: 49.7%
    • ACC Rank: 6 of 15
  • % of 2021-22 Points Returning: 46.5%
    • ACC Rank: 8 of 15


  • PG Charlie Moore (Graduated)
    • 37 G, 32.5 mpg, 12.4 ppg, 4.6 apg, 36% 3P%
  • G/F Kameron McGusty (Graduated)
    • 37 G, 34.1 mpg, 17.8 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 36% 3P%
  • F/C Sam Waardenburg (Graduated)
    • 35 G, 30.3 mpg, 8.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 53% FG%
  • C Rodney Miller (Graduated)
    • 18 G, 4.2 mpg, 1.5 ppg, 0.6 rpg, 63% FG%
  • C Deng Gak (Graduated)
    • 26 G, 4.9 mpg, 0.9 ppg, 0.7 rpg, 53% FG%


  • PG Bensley Joseph (SO)
    • 36 G, 13.3 mpg, 2.3 ppg, 0.8 apg, 40% 3P%
  • SG Isaiah Wong (SR)
    • 37 G, 33.9 mpg, 15.3 ppg, 2 apg, 30% 3P%
  • G/F Wooga Poplar (SO)
    • 34 G, 8.6 mpg, 2.3 ppg, 1.4 rpg, 21% 3P%
  • G/F Harlond Beverly (RS JR)
    • 4 G, 9.3 mpg, 0.5 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 0% 3P%
  • SF Jordan Miller (SR+)
    • 36 G, 30.8 mpg, 10 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 29% 3P%
  • PF Anthony Walker (JR)
    • 37 G, 14 mpg, 4.9 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 46% FG%


  • PG Nijel Pack (JR Transfer, Kansas State)
    • 29 G, 33.1 mpg, 17.4 ppg, 2.2 apg, 44% 3P% at Kansas State
  • G/F Jakai Robinson (4-star RS FR)
  • SF Christian Watson (3-star FR)
  • F Danilo Jovanovich (3-star FR)
  • PF AJ Casey (4-star FR)
  • PF Norchad Omier (JR Transfer, Arkansas State)
    • 29 G, 28.9 mpg, 17.9 ppg, 12.2 rpg, 63% FG% at Arkansas State
  • C Favour Aire (4-star FR)

Season Outlook

Miami bounced back last season after three years missing the postseason, riding great perimeter play and a veteran-stacked roster to an Elite Eight finish. A number of key seniors do graduate, most notably rent-a-senior PG Charlie Moore, versatile wing Kam McGusty, and stretch-big Sam Waardenburg.

All-ACC and projected NBA Draft pick Isaiah Wong does return as one of the league’s best scoring guards, but Miami’s hopes hinge on how well they can rebuild the roster around him. It starts with all-Big XII transfer PG Nijel Pack, who benefitted from a rich NIL recruitment and will take over for Moore at the 1-spot going forward, giving Miami one of the ACC’s best guard duos. Steady forward Jordan Miller is back for his bonus season at the 3/ and small-4, but they’ll need young talent to emerge at the backup spots. They do have a number of options, though, and odds say at least one or two will prove ready for the rotation. Bensley Joseph’s shooting I think gives him minutes out of the gate, but Miami would benefit from a bigger wing crashing the rotation to improve their size.

The front court is where the question marks arise. Miller may play some small ball 4, and Arkansas State transfer Norchad Omier will take on at least one starting big man position, but otherwise either Anthony Walker needs to rise to the occasion, or one of the freshmen will have to emerge. Coach Larranaga has talked this preseason of likely going smaller, but this does raise concerns about who the 4th guard/wing will be, and small ball teams do often suffer long term defensively and on the glass, which may cap their regular season upside. For now, I think they at least try out Walker in a traditional 4-man role unless another forward emerges.

The Canes are getting some preseason hype, and with the Pack-Wong backcourt are a pretty safe bet to finish towards the top half of the league. But how well their supporting cast develops will be the key to differentiating whether they’re merely a mid-tier Tourney team or a legit challenger for the ACC’s upper echelon. For now, I’ll play it conservative and say the front court inexperience holds them back defensively and on the glass just enough to keep them from cracking that top tier. I remain open to being proven wrong, though.


#4 – Notre Dame

2021-22 Record: 24-11 (15-5); T-2nd in ACC

  • % of 2021-22 Minutes Returning: 55%
    • ACC Rank: 4 of 15
  • % of 2021-22 Points Returning: 50.1%
    • ACC Rank: 6 of 15


  • PG Prentiss Hubb (Graduated)
    • 35 G, 33.7 mpg, 8.9 ppg, 4 apg, 31% 3P%
  • PG Elijah Morgan (Transferred to Citadel)
    • 6 G, 2.3 mpg, 1 ppg, 0.7 apg, 0% 3P%
  • SG Blake Wesley (Turned Pro)
    • 35 G, 29.3 mpg, 14.4 ppg, 2.4 apg, 30% 3P%
  • PF Elijah Taylor (Transferred to Quinnipiac)
    • 3 G, 3.7 mpg, 2.7 ppg, 0.7 rpg, 100% FG%
  • C Paul Atkinson (Graduated)
    • 35 G, 27.5 mpg, 12.5 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 59% FG%


  • SG Trey Wertz (SR+)
    • 34 G, 19 mpg, 4 ppg, 2 apg, 39% 3P%
  • SG Robby Carmody (RS JR)
    • 7 G, 13.7 mpg, 5.4 ppg, 0.6 apg, 0% 3P% in 2020-21
  • G/F Cormac Ryan (RS SR)
    • 35 G, 30 mpg, 9.2 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 41% 3P%
  • SF J.R. Konieczny (RS SO)
    • 7 G, 3.1 mpg, 1.6 ppg, 0.1 rpg, 100% 3P%
  • F Dane Goodwin (SR+)
    • 35 G, 33.5 mpg, 13.6 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 46% 3P%
  • F Tony Sanders (JR)
    • 6 G, 2.5 mpg, 1 ppg, 0.2 rpg, 33% 3P%
  • F/C Nate Laszewski (SR+)
    • 4 G, 28.8 mpg, 9.3 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 51% FG%
  • C Matt Zona (JR)
    • 8 G, 2.3 mpg, 0.8 ppg, 0.9 rpg, 50% FG%


  • G Marcus Hammond (SR+ Transfer, Niagara)
    • 29 G, 34 mpg, 18.1 ppg, 2.9 apg, 37% 3P% at Niagara
  • SG JJ Starling (5-star FR)
  • PF Ven-Allen Lubin (4-star FR)
  • F/C Dom Campbell (3-star FR)

Season Outlook

Mike Brey got back at all the haters (me included) last season by making the NCAAT again after a four-season drought. Underrated PG Prentiss Hubb and transfer big man Paul Atkinson graduate from last season’s rotation, and Blake Wesley surprisingly played himself into the NBA Draft 1st round as a freshman. But thanks to the COVID Bonus rule, Brey still has key veterans to work with, primarily the top front court duo of small-ball-4 Dane Goodwin and stretch-5 Nate Laszewski.

They’ll be looking for youngsters to step up in the front court, though, as there are no proven backups to those two, though rookie Ven-Allen Lubin has been the talk of South Bend this fall and should start immediately while junior Matt Zona hopefully proves ready off the bench. Odds are they go small, however, with Goodwin at the 4 when Laszewski sits.

On the perimeter, two newcomers will play big roles at the guard spots, where 1st Team all-MAAC point guard Hammond will pair with the rare 5-star Irish recruit JJ Starlings to handle lead guard duties. On the wing veteran shooters Corman Ryan and Trey Wertz are back for one last go-round, and Brey will be hoping Robby Carmody is finally healthy enough (ACL and knee injuries in recent years) to rotate at the 2 and 3.

It’s a little less threatening a lineup than last year, but not by much. This is still an NCAAT roster if Lazewski can give 30+ good minutes a night, and there’s depth, talent, and experience to work with everywhere else. Lubin and Starling look great both for this season and long term. Pencil them in for contention of an ACCT Double Bye yet again.


#3 – Duke

2021-22 Record: 32-7 (16-4); 1st in ACC

  • % of 2021-22 Minutes Returning: 15.9%
    • ACC Rank: 15 of 15
  • % of 2021-22 Points Returning: 11.5%
    • ACC Rank: 15 of 15


  • SG Trevor Keels (Turned Pro)
    • 36 G, 30.2 mpg, 11.5 ppg, 2.7 apg, 31% 3P%
  • G/F Wendell Moore (Turned Pro)
    • 39 G, 33.9 mpg, 13.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 41% 3P%
  • F AJ Griffin (Turned Pro)
    • 39 G, 24 mpg, 10.4 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 45% 3P%
  • F Joey Baker (Transferred to Michigan)
    • 34 G, 11.9 mpg, 4.5 ppg, 1.2 rpg, 41% 3P%
  • F/C Paolo Banchero (Turned Pro)
    • 39 G, 33 mpg, 17.2 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 48% FG%
  • C Mark Williams (Turned Pro)
    • 39 G, 23.6 mpg, 11.2 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 72% FG%
  • C Theo John (Graduated)
    • 38 G, 11.3 mpg, 2.8 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 61% FG%
  • C Bates Jones (Graduated)
    • 27 G, 5.3 mpg, 1.4 ppg, 1.1 rpg, 38% FG%


  • PG Jeremy Roach (JR)
    • 39 G, 29.4 mpg, 8.6 ppg, 3.2 apg, 32% 3P%
  • PG Jaylen Blakes (SO)
    • 21 G, 4.5 mpg, 1 ppg, 0.5 apg, 29% 3P%


  • PG Tyrese Proctor (4-star FR)
  • G/F Jaden Schutt (4-star FR)
  • SF Dariq Whitehead (5-star FR)
  • F Jacob Grandison (SR+ Transfer, Illinois)
    • 30 G, 25 mpg, 9.6 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 41% 3P% at Illinois
  • F Kale Catchings (RS SR Transfer, Harvard)
    • 24 G, 24.3 mpg, 9.1 ppg, 4 rpg, 37% 3P% at Harvard
  • PF Mark Mitchell (5-star FR)
  • F/C Ryan Young (SR Transfer, Northwestern)
    • 31 G, 17.1 mpg, 9 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 56% FG% at Northwestern
  • F/C Kyle Filipkowski (5-star FR)
  • C Dereck Lively (5-star FR)
  • C Christian Reeves (3-star FR)

Season Outlook

You know the drill, total 5-star turnover in Durham. Jeremy Roach is literally the only rotation player returning, with five NBA early departures, two graduations of one-year rental big men, and the sad transfer of never-was Joey Baker. Of course, the biggest change is on the bench, where first-timer Jon Scheyer takes over for the hall of famer Coach K. Seven freshmen and three transfers join the program, and of course the question is how effectively will Scheyer manage a bunch of aspirational one-and-dones (Whitehead and Lively are consensus 2023 1st rounders right now, with Michell, Filipkowski, and Proctor in discussions) against the ACC gauntlet.

What intrigues me somewhat is that all three of Duke’s transfers ostensibly can play to varying degrees, and did play at a high level at their last schools. I’m betting on Illinois transfer Jacob Grandison to steal a starting spot on the wing to give Scheyer some veteran presence and shooting alongside rookies at the 2, 4, and 5. I’m expecting this Duke team to run a deeper lineup; aside from the returning Jeremy Roach I project a lot of guys (even the five stars) will be in the 20-25 mpg range for a while until the best players really emerge.

Getting PG Roach back for his junior year was critical, and gives Scheyer at least one program vet at the most important position. Early offseason reports have Tyrese Proctor shining as a backcourt running mate to Roach, which will give Duke an important second ball handler and facilitator, especially as prize wing Dariq Whitehead works back from an offseason foot injury that may keep him from truly rounding into form until the winter. Backup options to the starting perimeter trio of Roach/Proctor/Grandison will need to emerge, whether Blakes or Schutt, if Whitehead’s return is at all delayed.

The front court rotation may also take some time to settle down, with two competent transfers battling three five-star rookies for minutes. Sounds like Filipkowski may come along slowly as a first year, similar to Matthew Hurt a couple seasons ago, with Lively and Mitchell starting, backed up as needed by the grad transfers. Christian Reeves, while low-rated by Duke standards, is also getting good preseason hype and may also steal minutes behind Lively.

Ultimately, shooting and defense will be a question mark for this team throughout the regular season. Still, with this much talent and size, it’s hard to say it won’t be a top 3 or 4 ACC team again this year and able to get hot come March, which is all Duke fans really care about anyways.


#2 – Virginia

2021-22 Record: 21-14 (12-8); 6th in ACC

  • % of 2021-22 Minutes Returning: 89.4%
    • ACC Rank: 1 of 15
  • % of 2021-22 Points Returning: 92.2%
    • ACC Rank: 1 of 15


  • SG Carson McCorkle (Transferred to Wofford)
    • 16 G, 4.8 mpg, 1.3 ppg, 0.3 apg, 31% 3P%
  • F Kody Stattmann (Graduated)
    • 35 G, 15.8 mpg, 3.3 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 34% 3P%
  • PF Igor Milicic Jr. (Transferred to Charlotte)
    • 16 G, 6.3 mpg, 2.1 ppg, 0.9 rpg, 38% FG%


  • PG Kihei Clark (SR+)
    • 35 G, 36 mpg, 10 ppg, 4.4 apg, 35% 3P%
  • PG Reece Beekman (JR)
    • 35 G, 35.1 mpg, 8.2 ppg, 5.2 apg, 34% 3P%
  • SG Armaan Franklin (SR)
    • 35 G, 29.5 mpg, 11.1 ppg, 1.4 apg, 30% 3P%
  • G/F Taine Murray (SO)
    • 19 G, 7.7 mpg, 2 ppg, 0.9 rpg, 35% 3P%
  • PF Jayden Gardner (SR+)
    • 35 G, 32.7 mpg, 15.3 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 50% FG%
  • C Kadin Shedrick (RS JR)
    • 35 G, 20.8 mpg, 6.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 64% FG%
  • C Francisco Caffaro (RS SR)
    • 35 G, 17.7 mpg, 4.3 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 52% FG%


  • SG Isaac McKneely (4-star FR)
  • G/F Leon Bond (4-star FR)
  • SF Ryan Dunn (4-star FR)
  • PF Ben Vander Plas (SR+ Transfer, Ohio)
    • 35 G, 35.3 mpg, 14.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 46% FG% at Ohio
  • F/C Isaac Traudt (4-star FR)

Season Outlook

Virginia dipped back into the NIT last year, an uncharacteristically humble finish for a team that had had eight straight NCAAT seasons. But only three bench players leave from that team, giving UVA one of the most stable year-over-year rosters we’ve seen in the ACC in years.

Tony Bennett will run back his two-PG attack with 5th year Kihei Clark and 3rd year Reece Beekman at the helm. Both are more facilitators and slashers than shooters, though, so the Hoos will look to Armaan Franklin to recpature the 40% 3-point shooting touch he had at Indiana and bet that at least one of the underclassmen is ready to join the guard rotation off the bench as a floor-spacer; Top 50 recruit Isaac McKneely seems the safest bet there.

The front court is incredibly loaded with depth and talent. Kadin Shedrick, finally healthy last year for the first time, turned a corner as a highly efficient post finisher and rim protector, and is backed up by 5th year enforcer Francisco Caffaro at the 5-spot. At the 4, former ECU transfer Jayden Gardner returns as a preseason all-ACC selection with stretch-forward Ben VanderPlas coming off the bench as a former all-MAC player at Ohio. 4-star rookie Isaac Traudt has also reportedly impressed in the offseason, though may see minimal minutes given the veterans in front of him.

The preseason polls and computers like Virginia to bounce back into being one of the nation’s better programs this year, largely because with this much returning experience the defense should bounce back nicely a year after atypical roster churn deprived the Pack Line of its usual continuity. But shooting will absolutely need to improve as well for the Hoos to hit this kind of ceiling.


#1 – North Carolina

2021-22 Record: 29-10 (15-5); T-2nd in ACC

  • % of 2021-22 Minutes Returning: 73.3%
    • ACC Rank: 2 of 15
  • % of 2021-22 Points Returning: 71.1%
    • ACC Rank: 3 of 15


  • SG Anthony Harris (Transferred to Winthrop)
    • 14 G, 11.7 mpg, 2.6 ppg, 0.6 apg, 60% 3P%
  • G/F Kerwin Walton (Transferred to Texas Tech)
    • 31 G, 13.3 mpg, 3.4 ppg, 1.2 rpg, 35% 3P%
  • PF Brady Manek (Graduated)
    • 39 G, 30.4 mpg, 15.1 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 49% FG%
  • F/C Dawson Garcia (Transferred to Minnesota)
    • 16 G, 20.6 mpg, 9 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 41% FG%


  • PG Caleb Love (JR)
    • 39 G, 34.2 mpg, 15.9 ppg, 3.6 apg, 36% 3P%
  • G RJ Davis (JR)
    • 39 G, 33.9 mpg, 13.5 ppg, 3.6 apg, 37% 3P%
  • SG D’Marco Dunn (SO)
    • 23 G, 4.1 mpg, 1 ppg, 0.3 apg, 20% 3P%
  • F Leaky Black (SR+)
    • 38 G, 29.7 mpg, 4.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 33% 3P%
  • F Puff Johnson (JR)
    • 24 G, 10.4 mpg, 3.1 ppg, 2 rpg, 23% 3P%
  • F Dontrez Styles (SO)
    • 30 G, 5.8 mpg, 2 ppg, 1.4 rpg, 17% 3P%
  • F Justin McKoy (SR)
    • 30 G, 7 mpg, 1 ppg, 1.4 rpg, 23% 3P%
  • C Armando Bacot (SR)
    • 39 G, 31.6 mpg, 16.3 ppg, 13.1 rpg, 57% FG%


  • PG Seth Trimble (4-star FR)
  • F Tyler Nickel (4-star FR)
  • PF Pete Nance (SR+ Transfer, Northwestern)
    • 30 G, 27.2 mpg, 14.6 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 50% FG% at Northwestern
  • F/C Jalen Washington (4-star FR)

Season Outlook

UNC runs back the majority of its lineup from its ACC 2nd-place finish and exciting Final Four run last season. The biggest coup in college basketball last April was coach Hubie Davis convincing (ostensibly with the help of big NIL checks, it is what it is) stars Armando Bacot and Caleb Love, along with senior glue guy Leaky Black, to stay one more season in Chapel Hill rather than start their pro careers. As such there’s nationwide consensus that they’re one of the best teams in D-1 entering this season and the team to beat in the ACC.

The big change here is the graduation of stretch-4 Brady Manek, maybe the biggest key to UNC’s success last year, taking his high-volume 40% 3-point shooting and floor spacing with him. The Tar Heels will see if lightning can strike twice, trying to repeat that success with another 1-year stretch-big transfer in Northwestern’s Pete Nance, who shot 46% from 3 last year, though on only moderate volume.

Otherwise there’s not a lot of mystery, mostly just waiting to see which underclassmen and role players are able to carve out bigger roles on the Heels’ second line. Seth Trible will audition to be Caleb Love’s heir at the lead guard spot for next year and crash the backcourt rotation with him and RJ Davis. Up front a quartet of 3/4-types in Puff Johnson, Dontrez Styles, Justin McKoy, and Tyler Nickel will battle it out for 2nd-string minutes along with rookie center Jalen Washington.

This roster doesn’t need much more said. It was great last year and will be great again this year. It’s fairly undramatic but otherwise a no-brainer to pencil them in atop your ACC pre-season poll this fall. I don’t mind, I like Hubert Davis as the Heels coach and it sets up for a great long term rivalry between the Heels and Hoos going forward.