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Monday, July 13, 2009
Preseason mags: Duke and Maryland? Maybe next year

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

While you were chewing on the lunchtime links, I snuck out today and snagged as many preseason magazines as I could find at Borders. I got Athlon, Lindy's, Yahoo! Sports and rivals.com, Sporting News, and Phil Steele.

Judging by these picks, Maryland and Duke might as well start looking ahead to 2010, because they've pretty much been written off for this season. (My take: Boston College and Virginia will struggle more.) And Miami, a program which desperately needs a boost into the national spotlight, was regarded overall as the fourth best team in the Coastal Division. Virginia Tech, obviously, is the clear-cut favorite, and there seems to be some confusion about whether or not Georgia Tech is better than North Carolina. That's understandable, because nobody really knows. But lord knows we love to guess ...

Here are the predictions:

Athlon
Atlantic:
1. FSU, 2. NC State, 3. Clemson, 4. Wake Forest, 5. Boston College, 6. Maryland
Coastal: 1. Virginia Tech, 2. North Carolina, 3. Georgia Tech, 4. Miami, 5. Virginia, 6. Duke
Virginia Tech over FSU in the title game
My take: The final verdict is a good early pick, and one that should be pretty popular, but I think the Nos. 5 and 6 spots for each conference should be reversed. I definitely don't think the Terps are a last-place team, even though they graduated so many players. There's a lot of young talent still on the roster the staff is excited about, and this group might actually have better athletes than it has in the past. The Eagles have more concerns right now than the Terps, who at least have a proven veteran quarterback in Chris Turner.

Lindy's
Atlantic: 1. FSU, 2. Wake Forest, 3. Clemson, 4. NC State, 5. Boston College, 6. Maryland
Coastal: 1. Virginia Tech, 2. Georgia Tech, 3. North Carolina, 4. Miami, 5. Virginia, 6. Duke
My take: That's a lot of confidence for a Wake Forest team that lost its best defensive players in school history. Jim Grobe is arguably the best coach in the ACC, so I wouldn't put it past the Deacs, especially with so much returning offensively, but Clemson and NC State have more going for them on paper right now.

Sporting News
Atlantic: 1. FSU, 2. NC State, 3. Wake Forest, 4. Clemson, 5. Maryland, 6. Boston College
Coastal: 1. Virginia Tech, 2. Georgia Tech, 3. North Carolina, 4. Miami, 5. Virginia, 6, Duke
My take: Remember when I said nobody is talking about Clemson? So far the Tigers haven't been given too much credit, and this is the lowest they've been picked so far.

Here's my biggest disagreement with the Sporting News' preview, and it has nothing to do with team rankings. The magazine rated Dolphin Stadium as the best stadium. I beg to differ. It's not even close to the atmospheres at Lane Stadium, Doak Campbell or Death Valley. However, they did give best home-field advantage and best fans to Clemson. That's more like it (although I think the Hokies rival them there, too).

Yahoo! Sports and rivals.com
Atlantic: 1. Florida State, 2. Clemson, 3. NC State, 4. Wake Forest, 5. Boston College, 6. Maryland
Coastal: 1. Virginia Tech, 2. Georgia Tech, 3. North Carolina, 4. Miami, 5. Virginia, 6. Duke
Championship: Virginia Tech over FSU
My take: These are great picks, and I've already mentioned I'd switch the last two in each conference. Somebody is finally recognizing the talent on Clemson's roster, and this magazine says Clemson is the team that will surprise and Miami is the team that will disappoint. (I think both teams have already accomplished that, no?)

Phil Steele
Atlantic:
1. Clemson, 2. Florida State, 3. Boston College, 3. NC State, 5. Wake Forest, 6. Maryland
Coastal: 1. Virginia Tech, 2. Miami, 3. Georgia Tech, 4. North Carolina, 5. Virginia, 6. Duke
My take: Way to change it up, Phil. No doubt Clemson is capable, but NC State should be better than a tie for 3rd and BC has too many questions right now for that much credit. Phil also gives the most credit to Miami, and if it weren't for their brutal schedule, more people would probably agree with him. There's no question the Canes have the talent to challenge the Hokies, but don't forget they've also got two new coordinators.