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October 16, 2010

Who is most likely to run away with their league?

At the College Basketball Roundtable each week, we ask each member of the coverage staff for his opinion about a current topic in the sport.

TODAY'S QUESTION: Which team is the heaviest favorite to win a Big Six league title this season?

David Fox's answer:
Kentucky would be the outright SEC favorite if Enes Kanter is eligible, but even then I don't think the Wildcats are as ahead of the pack as Duke is in the ACC. The Blue Devils return perhaps the best player in the nation (Kyle Singler) and a high-scoring guard (Nolan Smith). They add a five-star guard (Kyrie Irving) and Stephen Curry's brother, Seth, who was a stud as a freshman at Liberty. Look at the teams behind Duke, too. The next-best might be a handful of teams that didn't play in the NCAA tournament last season plus Florida State. North Carolina has the most potential to close the gap with Duke, given the Heels' incoming freshman class, but UNC also is a team that imploded until its run in the NIT. If Duke doesn't win the ACC easily, I will be quite surprised.

Mike Huguenin's answer:
I think you could argue for two or three teams as potential titlists in all the Big Six leagues except one. Duke is the prohibitive favorite in the ACC -- "prohibitive" as in the Blue Devils could win the league title by three or four games. Duke will be at least as good as it was last season, when it won it all, but the league as a whole is going to take a step back. Who's the second-best team? It might be North Carolina, which didn't even make the NCAA field last season. Regardless, Duke should cruise in the ACC.

Jason King's answer:
I think all of the Big Six races are going to be interesting and down to the wire -- except one. I fully expect Duke to win the ACC with ease. For one, I think the Blue Devils will be even better than they were last season. The addition of Kyrie Irving at point guard will allow the Blue Devils to play at a faster pace. Don't be surprised if Mike Krzyzewski's squad scores in the 90s more often than not -- especially with sharpshooter Seth Curry (another new addition) on the wing. Role players for most of last season, the Plumlee brothers should make huge strides in the paint. And there's Kyle Singler, who should vie for National Player of the Year honors. The other reason I believe Duke will win the ACC handily is because the league will probably be as bad as it's been in years. Other than the Blue Devils, North Carolina and Virginia Tech, the ACC will be hurting for top 25-caliber teams. Heck, recent conference doormat N.C. State could finish as high as fourth. I honestly wouldn't be shocked if Duke went undefeated in ACC play. And I'll be shocked if it loses more than two conference games.

Steve Megargee's answer:
I think Duke is the pretty clear-cut choice here. The defending national champions arguably could be even more talented this season as Liberty transfer Seth Curry (Stephen's brother) and highly touted freshman Kyrie Irving join a backcourt that already includes Nolan Smith. The frontcourt features Kyle Singler, arguably the nation's best returning player. Duke will miss the scoring punch of Jon Scheyer and the rebounding prowess of Brian Zoubek, but this still looks like one of the nation's best teams. The Blue Devils certainly are the class of the ACC, which appears headed for a down year. Virginia Tech, North Carolina and North Carolina State should be much better than last season, and Florida State also should contend for an NCAA bid. But not one of those teams is in Duke's class. Clemson, Maryland, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest have major holes to fill after reaching the NCAA tournament last season.



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