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Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Numerical nuggets from the ACC

By Jon Cooper

As the start of the 2013-’14 college basketball season approaches, ESPN Events takes a look at the different conferences and hands out some tasty, bite-size numerical morsels to whet fans’ appetites. There’s no better place to start than the ACC. With at least one team ranking in the AP’s final Top 10 in each of the past 53 years — last year they had two, in No. 5 Duke and No. 10 Miami, added No. 3 Syracuse this year and will add last year’s national champion, Louisville, next season. Here’s part one of a two-part look at the 15-team gauntlet that is the new-look ACC. Bon Appetite!

Boston College (16-17, 7-11, 8th)
7:
The number of returning players with at least 20 starts. That’s the most of any team in the ACC. That includes sophomore guard Olivier Hanlan, last year’s ACC Freshman of the Year and junior forward Ryan Anderson, who rank two and three in the conference in returning points (Anderson also ranks third in returning rebounds). The Eagles are the only school to return its entire starting five and brings back 64.7 percent of its scoring, also a league-high — eight points more than the nearest school, Virginia (56.4).

Clemson (13-18, 5-13, 11th)
6-feet-6:
The height of sophomore forward K.J. McDaniels, Clemson’s leading returning scorer and rebounder, who led the ACC in blocks last season (2.1 bpg). That made McDaniels the shortest player ever to lead the conference in blocks. He also became the first Clemson player since Sharone Wright in 1992-’93 to lead the ACC in blocks. He blocked at least one shot in 25 of the Tigers’ 28 games and his seven swats on Jan. 15 against Wake Forest were an ACC season-high. McDaniels’ dominance on the defensive end overshadowed that he also was fifth in the conference in most improved scoring average, boosting his output by 7.0 ppg (10.9 from 3.9). McDaniels gets to show his stuff in the Charleston Classic (Nov. 21-24).

Duke (30-6, 14-4, 2nd)
2:
Junior point guard Quinn Cook’s rank in the ACC in assists (5.3 apg) and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.41) last season for the Blue Devils, whose will play its second game of the season Nov. 12 in the State Farm Champions Classic. Cook is the leading returning scorer (11.7 ppg) and is one of two returning starters, with sophomore guard Rasheed Sulaimon (11.6 ppg) — the third-lowest total in the conference. Cook will try to orchestrate Duke’s stay in the AP top 10, which begins at an ACC-record 113 consecutive weeks, second all-time only to UCLA’s 155. Duke teams hold four of the ACC’s top five streaks for consecutive weeks being ranked in the top 10 (the last time the Blue Devils were not ranked in the AP Top 10 was in the Nov. 19, 2007 poll, in which they were 13th.).

Florida State (18-16, 9-9, 6th)
43:
The team-high number of blocks by center Kiel Turpin last season. The redshirt senior, who debuted with FSU after transferring from Lincoln College (which he led to the NJCAA Division II National Championship as a sophomore) was a big reason why the Seminoles led the ACC in blocks and ranked 26th in the country with 5.1 bpg.  Kiel is the son of the late Mel Turpin, who starred at Kentucky from 1985 through 1990 before playing five seasons in the NBA. You can get an early look at Turpin in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off (Nov. 21-24).

Georgia Tech (16-15, 6-12, 9th)
6:
In 2012-13, Georgia Tech became the sixth team in ACC history to have freshmen finish as their top two scorers. Forwards Marcus Georges-Hunt (10.8 ppg) and Robert Carter, Jr. (9.9) led the way for the Yellow Jackets, who started only one senior and had a five-win improvement over the previous season. Georges-Hunt and Carter, who spent part of their off-season with USA Basketball’s U19 Training Camp, also ranked first and third on the Jackets in rebounding last season, with Carter leading the team with 6.7 rpg and Georges-Hunt pulling 4.9.

*Maryland (25-13, 8-10, 7th)
14:
The number of years prior to last season that one team led the ACC in both field goal percentage defense and rebounding margin. The Terps did that in 2012-’13, holding opponents to .385 shooting, while outrebounding them by 8.6 per game. Maryland grabbed more rebounds than its opponents in 35 of 38 games. They’ll need to replace leading rebounder Alex Len (7.1 rpg), but sophomore forward Charles Mitchell (5.4 rpg) should go a long way to doing that. Junior guard/forward Dez Wells and 6-9 forward Evan Smotrycz, a transfer from Michigan, is a 41.4 percent three-point shooter, also will work in the paint.

Miami (29-7, 15-3, 1st)
Zero:
The number of starters returning from last year’s ACC Tournament Champion (which is part of the eight-team field in November’s Wooden Legacy tournament). Senior guard Rion Brown, who averaged 6.4 ppg last year, is the leading returning scorer for the Hurricanes, who lost their top six scorers from a year ago and return only 13 percent of their scoring. Reigning Coach of the Year Jim Larranaga’s squad was picked to finish fourth by ACC coaches in the preseason poll and fifth by the media.

*Maryland will be leaving the ACC following the 2014 season.