Men's spring preview: Atlantic Coast Conference
During the month of January, Golfweek will preview the 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: Georgia Tech
• Player to watch: Ollie Schniederjans, Georgia Tech: The junior picked up his first two collegiate wins this fall, and is fifth in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings.
• Freshman to watch: Derek Bard, Virginia: He has only played in two events for the Cavaliers, and made the wining putt at the Bank of Tennessee Intercollegiate for Virginia to win its first event of the season. Bard finished fourth at the event.
• Conference championship: April 25-27, Old North State Club, New London, N.C.
• Past champions (since 2009): Duke (2013), Georgia Tech (2012-2009)
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(Golfweek/Sagarin rank in parentheses)
- Georgia Tech (No. 2) : The Yellow Jackets won twice to start the season at the Carpet Capital and the Tar Heel Intercollegiate, and finished second in their two other starts at the Brickyard Collegiate and the U.S. Collegiate Championship. The Jackets are looking forward to the Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters, a stiff test in one of the best fields in college golf. The team has a strong starting five and will contend for a national championship this spring.
- Virginia (No. 11) : Virginia won its first tournament of the season at the Bank of Tennessee Intercollegiate. Junior Denny McCarthy has led the way for the Cavaliers in the fall and finished his first three events inside the top five. Freshman Derek Bard will also have more of an impact this spring, along with senior Ben Rusch. This team has five tournaments to get ready for the ACC Championship.
- Virginia Tech (No. 15) : The team won the VCU Shootout, but it was overshadowed by junior Scott Vincent’s three wins and one other top-5 finish. Vincent finished with a 69.91 stroke average in the first five tournaments. Tech has a core starting four with Bryce Chalkley, Trevor Cone, Maclain Huge and Vincent. The team will need to find a consistent fifth player to make a run at the ACC title. The Hokies will participate in the Puerto Rico Classic in February, which will be a strong field and test.
- Florida State (No. 23) : With the loss of Daniel Burger to the professional ranks, FSU had to fill in some pieces for this season. Led by two freshman – Jack Maguire and Hank Lebioda – the Seminoles are a young team, but have plenty of talent to compete. Maguire and Lebioda have 73.00 and 73.44 stroke average, respectively. The team’s best finish was at the Crooked Stick Intercollegiate and the Isleworth Collegiate Invitational (fourth). Four of its six tournaments this spring are in its home state of Florida.
- Wake Forest (No. 27) : The Deacons came into form at the end of the fall season at the U.S. Collegiate by placing third. In the two-team Payne Stewart Invitational, Danny Guise and Thomas Birdsey tied for first. Each player has one other top-5 finish to start the 2013-14 season. Wake Forest has plenty of depth as Birdsey is a senior and Guise is a freshman. The team will do some traveling before finishing up the spring season in its home state.
- Clemson (No. 29) : The team played in four tournaments and its best finish came at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Collegiate Challenge Cup (third). Another good finish was at the Carpet Capital Classic, where it finished fourth. The team struggled at the Fighting Illini Invitational and the U.S. Collegiate (13th and 15th, respectively). Sophomore Cody Proveaux earned his first collegiate top-5 finish in the first tournament of the season and went on the finish with a 73.41 scoring average. Sophomore Miller Capps finished inside the top 10 once during the fall, too.
- North Carolina (No. 45) : The Tar Heels swept their last tournament of the fall at the Bridgestone Golf Collegiate with freshman Henry Do picking up his first collegiate win. Do led the team with a scoring average of 72.25. Junior Bailey Patrick also picked up a win at the Carpet Capital Collegiate. The Tar Heels first tournament of the season – the Puerto Rico Classic – will be a real tester to start the spring.
- North Carolina State (No. 73) : N.C. State’s best play was at their first tournament – the Tar Heel Intercollegiate – where the team placed second. At its own Wolfpack Intercollegiate, the team finished third. Freshman Jacob McBride earned the low scoring average of the fall for the Pack with a 73.00.
- Duke (No. 78) : It’s hard to follow up a season where the team won the ACC Championship and a school-record five tournament wins, especially when you lose two key players – Brinson Paolini and Julian Suri. The team finished third at the Rod Myers Invitational. Freshman Max Greyserman and sophomore Motin Yeung picked up the only two top-10s for the Devils this fall.
- Notre Dame (No. 96) : Best finish came at the Georgetown Intercollegiate where the team placed second. Senior Naill Platt finished in the top 15 in the Fighting Irish’s first four tournaments.
- Maryland (No. 144) : The Terps finished second at the ODU/OBX Intercollegiate. Senior Sean Bosdosh was the low man for the Terps in three of five tournaments this fall, and had a 72.27 scoring average.
- Boston College (No. 218) : The Eagles finished 11th at the Golfweek Program Challenge, 12th at the Brickyard Collegiate and 13th at the Wolfpack Collegiate. In each of the five tournaments, five different players led the Eagles.
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I have to go with Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets are one of the favorites to win the NCAA Championship and winning the ACC is a step in that direction. Georgia Tech could likely be the top-ranked team in the country come April.