During the month of January, Golfweek will preview the 2014 spring season for each conference. Check out all of the previews here.
Today, we look at the Atlantic Coast Conference:
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5 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
• Top of the class: Duke
• Player to watch: Ashlan Ramsey, Clemson
• Freshman to watch: Yu Liu, Duke
• Conference championship: April 17-19, Sedgfield CC, Greensboro, N.C.
• Past champions (since 2009): Duke (2013), Duke (2012), North Carolina (2011), Wake Forest (2010), Wake Forest (2009)
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(Golfweek/Sagarin rank in parentheses)
• Duke (3): Duke adjusted well to the loss of senior Lindy Duncan last spring. Underclassmen stepped up, including freshman Yu Liu, who had the lowest scoring average. Laetitia Beck and Celine Boutier were right on her heels. The Blue Devils won the Tar Heel and were second at the Landfall Tradition.
• Clemson (13): The Tigers benefited greatly from Ashlan Ramsey, ranked No. 4 individually. They didn’t get a victory in their inaugural fall season, but it seems pretty likely they will in the spring after finishing second, second, fifth, third in the fall.
• North Carolina State (21): The Wolfpack must maintain the form that led to top 5s at the Mason Rudolph and Tar Heel. They ended the season with a pair of 12th-place finishes to kill the momentum, but that should come easily again in the spring.
• Wake Forest (27): This team can be proud of a fifth-place finish at the Landfall Tradition to end the season. Its spring schedule is every bit as tough – a good test for this top-30 team.
• North Carolina (28): It was a bit of a lackluster fall for the Tar Heels, a team that never finished better than sixth. The Tar Heels get leadership from seniors Jackie Chang and Katherine Perry, but one of those two (or an underclassmen) need to go low more consistently for the Tar Heels to build on their fall.
• Virginia (32): Without stumbles at the Mason Rudolph and the Tar Heel, it was an otherwise average season. The Cavs finished second at the MoMorial, a highlight of the fall. Elizabeth Brightwell and Portland Rosen were low scorers, but Lauren Diaz-Yi contributed as a freshman, too. Look for bigger things from her this spring.
• Miami (37): Patti Rizzo led the Hurricanes to an impressive fall, and a top-50 ranking gives the team something to build upon. Miami is a highly international squad, but excelled in a loaded Betsy Rawls field, eventually finishing third. That team can find more success in the spring.
• Notre Dame (48): The Irish didn’t play to potential in the fall with only one top-5 finish. There are many bright starts on this short roster, starting with junior Ashley Armstrong. The spring season should get much better than the fall.
• Florida State (50): A top-5 finish at the Lady Paladin was the highlight of the season. Matilda Castren is the go-to player for this squad. Still haven’t found a replacement for Jessica Negron, last year’s superstar.
• Maryland (84): The Terps started the season slowly, but showed potential as the fall progressed. Contended for the Pat Bradley Invitational title, but fell five shots short in the end. Maryland still looks to Juliet Vongphoumy for leadership.
• Boston College (137): The Eagles struggled a little in the fall, finishing in the top half of the field only once, at the Hoosier Fall Invitational. Cristina McQuiston and Katia Joo led the charge in the fall.
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We should see nine of the 11 ACC teams in postseason play. But there’s really only one favorite to win the conference title and that’s Duke. The Blue Devils have their sites on an NCAA title and are a notch or two ahead of the pack in the ACC.