Part 3 of LWOS’ ACC All-Time series is here with the final five teams. One of the most storied college basketball programs follows, as well as some of the all-time great players. You can find part one and part two of the ACC all-time series here.
ACC All-Time Series Part 3
Best Team: 2002-03
The 2002-03 Syracuse squad won a National Championship which immediately put them into the best team category. Since this was their only title, it elevates them over the recent seasons when they were ranked inside the top five. The 2002-03 team finished the year 30-5 led by a freshman superstar. This team will forever be legendary in Syracuse.
Best Player: Carmelo Anthony
This is a no-brainer. Although he was only on campus for one year, Carmelo Anthony is the best player. He is also widely considered one of the best freshman and one-and-done players ever. Anthony averaged 22.2 points and 10.0 rebounds per game en route to being named an All-American. He also won every conference award imaginable and capped it off with the NCAA Tourney Most Outstanding Player award. Anthony famously had a 33 point, 14 rebound performance against number one seeded Texas in the Final Four.
Honorable Mentions: Derrick Coleman, Pearl Washington
Best Coach: Jim Boeheim
Jim Boeheim joined Syracuse in 1976 and he has been the head coach ever since. He won over 1,000 games, but some of those games were stricken from the record books. As Jay Bilas says, Boeheim caused his opponent to lose 1,065 times. He has one National Championship, but Syracuse has been a staple in the NCAA Tournament.
University of North Carolina Tar Heels
Best Team: 2008-09
The 2008-09 Tar Heels team was loaded. They finished the year 34-4 and won the National Championship. The closest game they played in the NCAA tournament that year was a 12 point win over Oklahoma in the Elite Eight. The Tar Heels lowest ranking all season was five. This team was led by Tyler Hansbrough and a plethora of other NBA draft picks.
Best Player: Tyler Hansbrough
Tyler Hansborough is the best college player to ever wear Carolina blue. He averaged 20.2 points and 8.6 rebounds for his career, earning the nickname “Psycho T.” He won an NCAA championship, a Wooden Award, and was a four-time All-American. From the day he stepped foot on campus he was one of the best players in the ACC and continued to improve.
Obviously, people will be surprised Jordan was not the pick. He is great, but Hansborough had a better college career.
Honorable Mentions: Michael Jordan, James Worthy
Best Coach: Dean Smith
The choice here is between Dean Smith and Roy Williams. Smith resurrected the Tar Heels basketball program. He took over in 1961 and left in 1997. From 1966-90 the Tar Heels never lost double-digit games in a season. That is remarkable consistency. Smith also won two National Championships and 879 games. Williams has three National Championships in a much shorter time frame, but he also missed the NCAA tournament twice and had some extremely poor seasons.
Best Team: 2018-19
The 2018-19 Virginia Cavaliers will forever be the fan-favorite. After being the first one seed to ever lose to a sixteen seed in men’s basketball, they won a National Championship. It was the ultimate redemption story. The Cavaliers finished 35-3 and had several remarkable finishes to cut down the nets for the first time in school history.
Best Player: Ralph Sampson
Ralph Sampson is one of the best players in college basketball history. At 7’4, he was nearly impossible to guard. Sampson averaged 16.9 points and 11.4 rebounds per game with a game that had a much slower pace than today. Sampson was a three-time AP Player of the Year and two-time Wooden Award winner. He was also a three-time All-American.
Honorable Mentions: Malcolm Brogdon, Joe Harris, Ty Jerome
Best Coach: Tony Bennett
Tony Bennett has been so much more than anything Virginia could have hoped for. It took Bennett two seasons to turn the Cavaliers program around. He has recorded 277 wins in 11 seasons. Also, Bennett led Virginia to the regular season ACC crown four of the last seven years. Virginia will be happy to have Bennett for as long as he wants to coach.
Virginia Tech Hokies
Best Team: 2018-19
The 2018-19 Virginia Tech Hokies were undoubtedly the best of the bunch. They finished the year 26-9 and finished fifth in a loaded ACC, which led to them being a four seed in the NCAA tournament. They took Duke to the wire and had every chance to win. This team produced two NBA players plus two other great college players. Even though they could not get through the Sweet 16, the 2018-19 Hokies went farther than almost any other Hokies team.
Best Player: Dell Curry
Dell Curry averaged 18.9 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 3.2 assists in his four seasons in Blacksburg. Even though he is most known for his superstar children, Curry was a baller when he was playing. He is a great shooter and scorer. Undoubtedly, he is the best player in school history.
Honorable Mention: Justin Robinson
Best Coach: Buzz Williams
While Buzz Williams’ tenure was not super long, he was very successful. Williams coached at Virginia Tech from 2014-2019 until he left for Texas A&M. He won 100 games with a winning percentage of 59 percent. In his five seasons, he made the tournament three times. All the other coaches combined have only made the tournament eight times. Williams was head and shoulders above the rest.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Best Team: 1995-96
The 1995-96 Demon Deacons opened the season ranked 11 in the AP preseason poll. They hovered around the top ten all season and ultimately finished ninth after losing in the Elite Eight. This team was led by star junior Tim Duncan and a few other lesser-known NBA players. Wake compiled a 26-6 record leading to a two-seed in the NCAA tournament. The Demon Deacons are still in search of their first national title and when that comes, that team will be elevated to this position.
Best Player: Tim Duncan
Duncan played at Wake Forest from 1994-97. During his tenure, he won the Wooden Award and was a two-time All-American. Duncan averaged 16.5 points, 12.3 rebounds, and 2.3 assists while in Winston-Salem. He averaged a double-double for three straight years, including a massive 20.8 points and 14.7 rebounds in his senior season.
Honorable Mentions: Chris Paul
Best Coach: Dave Odom
Dave Odom coached at Wake Forest from 1989-2001 where he won 240 games and made the NCAA tournament eight out of twelve times. He also won an NIT championship and two conference championships.
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