Top ACC Contenders Counting On Veteran Talent In League Race

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Georgia Tech coach Nell Fortner has reason for confidence after bringing back nearly the entire roster from the program’s first NCAA Sweet 16 team in nearly a decade.

Georgia Tech head coach Nell Fortner smiles while gesturing during NCAA college basketball Atlantic Coast Conference media day, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Matt Kelley) © Provided by Associated Press Georgia Tech head coach Nell Fortner smiles while gesturing during NCAA college basketball Atlantic Coast Conference media day, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Matt Kelley) North Carolina State forward Kayla Jones answers a question during NCAA college basketball Atlantic Coast Conference media day, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Matt Kelley) © Provided by Associated Press North Carolina State forward Kayla Jones answers a question during NCAA college basketball Atlantic Coast Conference media day, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Matt Kelley)

She’s not alone in the Atlantic Coast Conference, either.

“Yeah, we have a lot of experience coming back,” Fortner said Wednesday during the league’s preseason media day. “But so does everybody else.”

That's true of the top contenders, in particular. Reigning two-time tournament champion North Carolina State returns its top eight scorers. Louisville, which has won at least a share of the regular-season title for four straight seasons, has multiple starters back while bringing in two proven transfers from other power-conference schools to offset the loss of two-time league player of the year Dana Evans.

Louisville head coach Jeff Walz laughs during NCAA college basketball Atlantic Coast Conference media day, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Matt Kelley) © Provided by Associated Press Louisville head coach Jeff Walz laughs during NCAA college basketball Atlantic Coast Conference media day, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Matt Kelley)

NCAA teams like Virginia Tech and Florida State are much like Fortner’s Yellow Jackets in returning nearly their entire rosters, while the Seminoles get an additional boost with the return of longtime coach Sue Semrau after she took a leave of absence last season to care for her ailing mother.

That sets up a league race headlined by teams counting on older players with plenty of game experience.

Virginia Tech head coach Kenny Brooks laughs during NCAA college basketball Atlantic Coast Conference media day, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Matt Kelley) © Provided by Associated Press Virginia Tech head coach Kenny Brooks laughs during NCAA college basketball Atlantic Coast Conference media day, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Matt Kelley)

“Talent matters, too,” Louisville coach Jeff Walz said. “If you’re experienced and bad, you’re still bad. … But what we have in this league right now is we have experienced good players. Now that’s where it’s going to have a bigger impact.”

Louisville guard Kianna Smith smiles during NCAA college basketball Atlantic Coast Conference media day, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Matt Kelley) © Provided by Associated Press Louisville guard Kianna Smith smiles during NCAA college basketball Atlantic Coast Conference media day, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Matt Kelley)

The league didn’t have a Final Four team last season, but did have a national-best eight bids for the third consecutive tournament with three teams advancing past the opening weekend.

The Cardinals made the deepest run to a regional final before falling to eventual national champion Stanford. The Wolfpack earned the program’s first No. 1 seed before falling in the Sweet 16. The Yellow Jackets also made it there for the first time since 2012.


Video: Georgia Tech Is Looking To Build Off Last Year's Success (ACC Digital Network)

Georgia Tech Is Looking To Build Off Last Year's Success > ACC Digital Network See more videos "> See more videos > > > > > What to watch next
  • Week 9 Football: Spanish Springs, Damonte Ranch, Carson and Reno all win in 5A football Week 9 Football: Spanish Springs, Damonte Ranch, Carson and Reno all win in 5A football>

    Week 9 Football: Spanish Springs, Damonte Ranch, Carson and Reno all win in 5A football

    Reno-Gazette-Journal Logo Reno-Gazette-Journal
  • Estacado coach Joe Cluley discusses his team’s defense in win over Borger Estacado coach Joe Cluley discusses his team’s defense in win over Borger>

    Estacado coach Joe Cluley discusses his team’s defense in win over Borger

    Lubbock Avalanche-Journal Logo Lubbock Avalanche-Journal
  • WATCH: Greater Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky Week 9 high school football recap WATCH: Greater Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky Week 9 high school football recap>

    WATCH: Greater Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky Week 9 high school football recap

    Cincinnati Enquirer Logo Cincinnati Enquirer
  • Barion Brown leads Pearl-Cohn to 26-21 win over Montgomery Bell Academy Barion Brown leads Pearl-Cohn to 26-21 win over Montgomery Bell Academy>

    Barion Brown leads Pearl-Cohn to 26-21 win over Montgomery Bell Academy

    The Tennessean (Nashville) Logo The Tennessean (Nashville)
  • Cardinal Newman extends win streak to 4 Cardinal Newman extends win streak to 4>

    Cardinal Newman extends win streak to 4

    WPTV West Palm Beach, FL Logo WPTV West Palm Beach, FL
  • South Carolina's Dawn Staley gets massive raise, contract extension South Carolina's Dawn Staley gets massive raise, contract extension>

    South Carolina's Dawn Staley gets massive raise, contract extension

    WYFF 4 Greenville-Spartanburg Logo WYFF 4 Greenville-Spartanburg
  • Dawn likes the attitude of her team Dawn likes the attitude of her team>

    Dawn likes the attitude of her team

    WLTX-TV Columbia Logo WLTX-TV Columbia
  • Hey Jimmy: 'Voice of the Browns' Jim Donovan answers your Cleveland Browns questions Hey Jimmy: 'Voice of the Browns' Jim Donovan answers your Cleveland Browns questions>

    Hey Jimmy: 'Voice of the Browns' Jim Donovan answers your Cleveland Browns questions

    WKYC-TV Cleveland Logo WKYC-TV Cleveland
  • North Carolina Will Bring A Lot Of Versatility To The Court North Carolina Will Bring A Lot Of Versatility To The Court>

    North Carolina Will Bring A Lot Of Versatility To The Court

    ACC Digital Network Logo ACC Digital Network
  • Runnin' Rebels fundraise for UNLV legend Robert Smith Runnin' Rebels fundraise for UNLV legend Robert Smith>

    Runnin' Rebels fundraise for UNLV legend Robert Smith

    KTNV Las Vegas, NV Logo KTNV Las Vegas, NV
  • CSU Pueblo looks for 4th straight win in road game at New Mexico Highlands CSU Pueblo looks for 4th straight win in road game at New Mexico Highlands>

    CSU Pueblo looks for 4th straight win in road game at New Mexico Highlands

    KOAA Colorado Springs, CO Logo KOAA Colorado Springs, CO
  • Thomas County Central softball ready for second round after first round bye Thomas County Central softball ready for second round after first round bye>

    Thomas County Central softball ready for second round after first round bye

    WTXL Tallahassee, FL
  • Former players help Bay Area basketball coach who lost gym, home Former players help Bay Area basketball coach who lost gym, home>

    Former players help Bay Area basketball coach who lost gym, home

    ABC 7 San Francisco Logo ABC 7 San Francisco
  • Community gathers to remember Mervo football star Elijah Gorham Community gathers to remember Mervo football star Elijah Gorham>

    Community gathers to remember Mervo football star Elijah Gorham

    WBAL TV Baltimore Logo WBAL TV Baltimore
  • Team of the week- Marquette Hilltoppers Team of the week- Marquette Hilltoppers>

    Team of the week- Marquette Hilltoppers

    WTMJ Milwaukee, WI Logo WTMJ Milwaukee, WI
  • Friday Night Tailgate: Keys to undefeated matchup between Coweta, McAlester Friday Night Tailgate: Keys to undefeated matchup between Coweta, McAlester>

    Friday Night Tailgate: Keys to undefeated matchup between Coweta, McAlester

    KJRH Tulsa, OK Logo KJRH Tulsa, OK
> > > > >
  • Week 9 Football: Spanish Springs, Damonte Ranch, Carson and Reno all win in 5A football Week 9 Football: Spanish Springs, Damonte Ranch, Carson and Reno all win in 5A football> Week 9 Football: Spanish Springs, Damonte Ranch, Carson and Reno all win in 5A football Week 9 Football: Spanish Springs, Damonte Ranch, Carson and Reno all win in 5A football Reno-Gazette-Journal Logo Reno-Gazette-Journal
  • Estacado coach Joe Cluley discusses his team’s defense in win over Borger Estacado coach Joe Cluley discusses his team’s defense in win over Borger> Estacado coach Joe Cluley discusses his team’s defense in win over Borger Estacado coach Joe Cluley discusses his team’s defense in win over Borger Lubbock Avalanche-Journal Logo Lubbock Avalanche-Journal
  • WATCH: Greater Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky Week 9 high school football recap WATCH: Greater Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky Week 9 high school football recap> WATCH: Greater Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky Week 9 high school football recap WATCH: Greater Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky Week 9 high school football recap Cincinnati Enquirer Logo Cincinnati Enquirer
UP NEXT UP NEXT