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ACC Preview: Notre Dame looks to repeat as the 2018-19 NCAA champions

The ACC was home to two of last year’s Final Four teams. Both have a good chance of doing it again this season.

Notre Dame v Mississippi State Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

A new college basketball season is about to start, so it’s time to preview teams and what they look to do in 2018-19. In this preview, we will look at the ACC and some of the high- level storylines its teams will be facing.

How did the ACC teams do last year?

Here are the teams in the ACC, listed with their records, according to the 2017-18 standings:

  1. Louisville Cardinals, 36-3 (15-1 ACC)
  2. Notre Dame Fighting Irish, 35-3 (15-1 ACC)
  3. Florida State Seminoles, 26-7 (12-4 ACC)
  4. NC State Wolfpack, 26-9 (11-5 ACC)
  5. Duke Blue Devils, 24-9 (11-5 ACC)
  6. Syracuse Orange. 22-9 (10-6 ACC)
  7. Miami Hurricanes, 22-11 (10-6 ACC)
  8. Virginia Cavaliers, 19-14 (10-6 ACC)
  9. Virginia Tech Hokies. 23-14 (6-10 ACC)
  10. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, 20-14 (6-10 ACC)
  11. Wake Forest Demon Deacons, 14-17 (5-11 ACC)
  12. North Carolina Tar Heels, 15-16 (4-12 ACC)
  13. Pittsburgh Panthers, 10-20 (2-14 ACC)
  14. Boston College Eagles, 7-23 (2-14 ACC)
  15. Clemson Tigers, 11-19 (1-15 ACC)

Biggest storylines heading into the season

Here are some of the major storylines in the ACC heading into the 2018-19 season:

  • Notre Dame looks to repeat as national champions. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish were always one of the contenders to win the national championship. But few would believe that the Fighting Irish would win the semifinals and national championship games on Arike Ogunbowale buzzer beaters, and with a roster that returns practically everyone. Can she improve her passing and efficiency skills this season? Doing so will improve her WNBA Draft stock considerably.
  • Louisville looks to make a strong run for a sixth ACC title. Notre Dame won the NCAA tournament, but the team could not defeat the Louisville Cardinals last season. In fact, the Irish lost to them twice — once, in the regular season, and once again in the ACC Tournament. The Cardinals also made the Final Four, but lost to Mississippi State in the semifinals. But Asia Durr returns for her senior season and she looks to finish her college career on top.
  • North Carolina hopes to bounce back after three consecutive down seasons. The Tar Heels are traditionally one of the powerhouse teams in the ACC, but they haven’t had a winning record since 2015. Senior point guard Paris Kea averaged 18.8 points and 4.9 assists last season and figures to make an impact this season as well. But the return of guards like Stephanie Watts and Destinee Walker from knee injuries last season will be key for Carolina. If things play out right, the Tar Heels could have one of the most potent perimeter attacks in the ACC this season.
  • Tina Thompson begins her reign at UVA. The Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer and WNBA legend begins her first year as a head coach. Junior guards Dominique Toussaint and Jocelyn Willoughby figure to be the engine to make the Cavaliers run, as the team looks to make the NCAA Tournament for a second consecutive season.

Game information

Here are three of the top games to see in the ACC this season:

Non-conference matches to see

Virginia vs. Mississippi State

  • When: Friday, Nov. 9 at 7 p.m. ET
  • Where: John Paul Jones Arena, Charlottesville, VA
  • How to watch: ACC Network
  • Why to watch: Tina Thompson begins her tenure at Virginia with no tune-up matchup. In fact, the Cavaliers are playing Mississippi State — a team coming off a second consecutive national championship game appearance. UVA will have its hands full, but it’s an opportunity for this team to get a big win early in the season, at home.

Notre Dame vs. Connecticut

  • When: Sunday, Dec. 2 at 4 p.m. ET
  • Where: Purcell Pavilion, Notre Dame, IN
  • How to watch: ESPN
  • Why to watch: The Fighting Irish play UConn in one of women’s basketball’s biggest rivalries. Notre Dame and UConn have met in the Final Four or championship games six times since 2010, where they have an even 3-3 record in NCAA Championship games. But UConn has won seven of its last eight meetings, which includes the regular season.

Conference matches to watch

Louisville vs. Notre Dame

  • When: Thursday, Jan. 10 at 7 p.m. ET
  • Where: Purcell Pavilion, Notre Dame, IN
  • How to watch: ESPN
  • Why to watch: Louisville won the ACC regular season and conference tournament titles over Notre Dame, but the latter went on to win the national title. This is the teams’ only regular-season matchup, which raises the stakes for sure.

North Carolina vs. Duke

  • When: Thursday, Jan. 7 at 7 p.m. ET
  • Where: Carmichael Pavilion, Chapel Hill, NC
  • How to watch: ACC Network Extra
  • Why to watch: The Tar Heels have fallen on hard times in recent years, though they are one of women’s basketball’s perennial powers. Last season, UNC beat their arch rivals, 92-86, in one of the team’s biggest wins of the season, at home. Since the Tar Heels have restocked on talent, they have a better chance of sweeping the regular-season series against the Blue Devils, who also aren’t quite as strong as they were during most of the 2000s.

For more information

Click here to get to the ACC’s website.