It's a sign of the times and, absent conceding most top prospects to programs such Kentucky, Kansas and Ohio State, unavoidable.
It's also unheard of. In the previous 20 seasons, from 1989 to 2008, no All-ACC first-teamers returned only once.
That was the 2002 first team of
Not coincidentally, the following season, 2002-03, was among the ACC’ s worst. Only four teams made the
Similarly, the ACC was 6-5 in the NCAAs this season after last year’s entire all-conference first team – Duke’s
The one occasion the ACC arguably thrived despite losing its top five players: After the 2009 exit of North Carolina’s
But other than Duke, the ACC's performance lacked depth. None of its five other NCAA teams advanced more than one round.
With 2012 first-teamers Henson, Barnes, Rivers, Virginia’s
With three incoming McDonald's All-Americans and at least three starters back from a Sweet 16 squad, N.C. State could well become the ACC's preseason favorite. Florida State and Maryland also should have top-three aspirations.
But don't hold your breath for an upper tier without Duke and North Carolina. The last time both perennials finished below third in the regular season? That would be never.
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