Wildman’s Corner: Breaking down the ACC
We’ve focused a lot on the Pac-12 and West Coast teams, so let’s turn toward my side of the country. Today, I’m breaking down and ranking the teams from the ACC:
1. Georgia Tech: Despite a slow start to the year, the Yellow Jackets picked up their first win over the weekend against a good Brickyard field. Talent-wise, they are the best 1-5 in the lineup.
2. Virginia: Too many people forget about the Cavs on a weekly basis. They started the year with a win at the VCU Shootout and have a freshman who could be the Freshman of the Year in Denny McCarthy.
3. Clemson: Despite winning the Jerry Pate, Corbin Mills still can’t get much pub for the Tigers. Clemson had a disappointing season last year, but the Tigers are far too talented not to be contenders in the conference this year. If Coach Larry Penley can find Nos. 4 and 5 men, this team could be dangerous in the postseason.
4. Duke: Rough 13th-place finish to start the year at Olympia Fields, but the Blue Devils bounced back with a win at their home event. Good teams know how to pick themselves up and improve, and Duke is that type of team. Don’t be surprised if Duke can hover around the top 15 for most of the year.
5. Florida State: The Seminoles had a forgettable season last year, but Trey Jones has a deep squad in Tallahassee this year. Brooks Koepka won the Brickyard by four shots over a pair of Yellow Jackets, and if he can just get a solid contributor behind him, the ’Noles could be dangerous.
6. Virginia Tech: Don’t ever sleep on the Hokies. In three fall tournaments to start the year, Virginia Tech has not finished outside the top 5. Tech started with a T-4 at the Northern Collegiate, followed by back-to-back fifth-place finishes at the VCU Shootout and Brickyard.
7. Wake Forest: It’s tough to understand why the Demon Deacons are struggling. Out of the gate, Wake was 10th at the Carpet Capital, followed by a sixth-place showing at the VCU Shootout. Last week, the team improved with a third-place finish at the Rees Jones Invitational. Someone needs to step up and help Lee Bedford for this team to succeed.
8. N.C. State: Its seventh-place showing at the home event was a bit of a head-scratcher. Albin Choi had a great fall semester last year as a freshman, but he has seemed to go MIA. Coach Richard Sykes has plenty of depth on his roster, and he still has time to figure out his starting five by the spring.
9. North Carolina: First-year coach Andrew Sapp took over for a program that needed to learn how to win again. This team is on the rise and might be the second-best team in the state by the end of the year.
10. Maryland: With a pretty strong schedule, the team just can’t seem to play at an elite level. Maryland hasn’t been a factor in college golf for quite some time, and it seems as if that won’t change any time soon.
11. Boston College: Despite being one of the lesser teams in the ACC, the Eagles are one of the top teams in the New England area. Unfortunately, they don’t play in the North East Conference. There is excitement growing within the program, but it the Eagles have a ways to go before they will contend for an at-large bid to an NCAA regional.
12. Miami: How does the “U” not have a men’s golf program?
1. North Carolina: Say it ain’t so! The top team from the state of North Carolina isn’t Duke? UNC is an extremely talented team this year, and if its senior leaders step up, the Tar Heels could make a championship run.
2. Virginia: The Cavs were in the final pairing of last year’s NCAA Championship and finished fourth. Kim Lewellen has this program real close to competing with the UCLAs and ’Bamas of the women’s college world.
3. Duke: Despite being on a winless drought for more than a year, there’s no panic in Durham. Dan Brooks knows what it takes to be a champion (just look at all his championship rings), and he has the talent to be successful. It’s now time for Duke players to step it up.
4. Wake Forest: It seems like Wake’s window of opportunity has closed, with several of its top players graduating. Dianne Dailey still has Cheyenne Woods, but she can’t do it all on her own. Who will be the next core group of Wake players we’ll see over the next four years?
5. Florida State: The Seminoles have played only one event, but it was a fourth at the Mo’Morial Classic. Coach Amy Bond has recruited in-state as well as abroad, landing one of the top players from France in Laure Castelain. FSU will make the postseason this year, but it might be another two to three years before the 'Noles are in prime position to make a run.
6. Miami: One of the most dominant teams in the 1970s and '80s is starting to become relevant once again. In only her second year as coach, Patti Rizzo has changed the attitude in Coral Gables. This team is still a long ways from competing for a national title, but the team could challenge for a postseason berth for the first time since 2005.
7. N.C. State: With a win at the Wild Eggs Cardinal Cup, the Wolfpack are one of only two teams from the conference to win an event so far this year. Page Marsh had an impressive run of taking her team to regionals from 2002 to '10, but had zero national championship appearances to show for it.
8. Maryland: With a win at the UNCG/Starmount Classic, the Terps picked up some needed wins after a 14th-place finish at the Cougar Classic and 11th-place showing at the Napa River Grill Cardinal Cup. Maryland may have a win under its belts, but unless the Terps back it up with other top finishers will be left without a phone call when NCAA regionals are announced.
9. Boston College: The coaches are in place, the recruits are starting to come and the only thing this program needs is time – and a lot of it. Boston College could be on the rise, but is still at least a few years away.