The ACC is arguably the top conference in college basketball. Last season six teams total made it to the NCAA tournament, five of which got to the Sweet 16. 2015-2016 promises possibly more than six teams. Although it is still very early, we now look at the most promising potential bubble teams in the ACC.
Florida State certainly has the talent to go quite far. Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Devin Bookert, Dwayne Bacon, and Montay Brandon are all very capable players who round out a respectable roster for the 2015-2016 Seminoles. Rathan-Mayes showed his potential last season, putting up nearly 15 points per game. Brandon and Bookert are also offensively productive, but the real treasure here is Bacon. If his high school stats are any indication, the Seminoles should have more than enough star shooting power on their team. If Florida State can make it to the tournament this season it could be the signal to a prosperous era to come. This is bolstered by the evidence of their recent success in recruiting talent for the class of 2016 (five-star forward Jonathan Isaac).
A retooling Louisville team is a Louisville team likely on the bubble. It should be interesting to see how well Rick Pitino’s team recuperates after its loss of leading players. The Cardinals still have a decent shot of making the tournament if they can establish a new and effective dynamic with their returning set of players. Additionally, a couple of transfers in the mix, Trey Lewis and Damion Lee, will add to the young team. The Cardinals’ slew of shooting guards will be primarily comprised of freshmen and Lewis will likely be the starting point guard. Mangok Mathiang, a center, made some key plays last season but did not receive many minutes. As he is one of the remaining few contributors from seasons past he could emerge as a formidable leader.
Like Florida State, Pittsburgh does not lack for talent and has the potential to be on the verge of a breakout season. This talent comes from a combination of sources. Firstly, the Panthers have had a decent amount of success in the transfer market, with additions Sterling Smith, Alonzo Nelson-Ododa, and Rozelle Nix all eligible to participate in 2015. Smith has the potential to be the most effective of this trio as he was a highly effective shooter at his former school (Coppin State) by making almost 42% of his threes and averaging 13.9 points per game. A formidable offensive effort should also come from freshman Damon Lee. Lee can not only shoot, but is also a proven ball-handler and defender. Finally, returning point guard James Robinson, should continue to be a leader for the team. His “pass-first” mentality should be a nice complement to the points that Smith and Lee are likely to contribute.