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2019-20 Basketball Season Preview

[Note: a different version of this article ran in April in the wake of the national title. It has been modified to serve here as an introduction to our 2019-20 season preview.]

 

Back in April, right after the title game, I wrote

I was lucky enough to attend Virginia’s national championship banner-hanging and ring ceremony Sept. 13 at John Paul Jones Arena. It was a night worthy of this wonderful group of Wahoos as fans and UVa administrators got to show their appreciation for such a great group of young men and coaches.

At first, I was surprised that the arena did not sell out. I believe the attendance was about 10,000, with tickets in the upper bowl selling for $25 and $50 in the...

We as fans have gone into a lot of new seasons over the years (decades), and our emotions surrounding the new season always carry some residual feelings from the year prior. Sometimes those feelings have reflected the frustration of a losing season or a post-season crash-and-burn. Other years those feelings are buoyed by a surprising run of success. We've gotten used to entering seasons as the defending ACC champion, but entering the year as the defending national champion is something entirely uncharted. We wanted to hear from our writers how the new banner hanging from the rafters changes their usual October vibe, what's different in their heart and head as the hoops team gears up for a...

We had our writers cast ballots for a slate of all-conference preseason honors, to include 1st and 2nd team, all-freshman, and player, rookie, and defensive player of the year. Twenty different players got votes for one of the two All-ACC teams, none a consensus, nine different freshmen got votes for the rookie team, but at least there was largely consensus in the player of the year debate. The takeaway? The top-level of talent isn't as clear cut, isn't as immediately obvious as it has been in years past. The ranking was so nebulous that a couple of our writers shied away from even picking beyond the first team.

Fifteen teams battling for one trophy. Top ranked recruits and All-ACC worthy players on most every team. This is college basketball's best, deepest league yet again, even though this year feels a step behind some years in terms of top-level quality. There may only be 8 or so teams receiving bids come Selection Sunday, and no one jumps out as an obvious Final Four front-runner, though I'm sure someone will get hot at some point. So how do we rack and stack those 15 teams? Our writers voted, and those 15 teams stratified into four distinct tiers. Click on the team name to jump to a more in-depth breakdown of each squad. Read on to see the countdown to #1:

Tony Bennett has ascended the ladder from "great young coach" to "member of the championship fraternity." His legacy is cemented, and he now stands shoulder to shoulder with the ACC's other elders Jim Boeheim, Roy Williams, and Mike Krzyzewski. The purpose of this article is to look at the next generation of ACC coaches and rank who's got the best chances to join Tony at the table, especially as a big group of those elders nears retirement. With Krzyzewski, Williams, Boeheim, Larranaga, and Hamilton, *ahem*, fully vested in Social Security, it's an interesting thought exercise as to who will emerge from the 60-and-Under group of ACC coaches to join Tony as the future net-cutting face of t...

It has become something of a tradition since the Virginia Cavaliers entered college basketball's elite in 2013-14: The Walkon Moment.  It is a tradition that might even play out in a more meaningful way this season, a way that ties the Bennett Era even a little more tightly in with the overall history of Virginia Basketball: a walkon might see competitive action.

The Walkon Moment tradition began with Thomas Rogers in February 2014 when the Cavaliers clinch...

[Note: a version of this ran in June after the rule changes were announced. It's been updated here as a refresher going into the new season.]

 

The NCAA rules committee voted to implement some changes to D-1 basketball for this coming year. You can read the article here (link

In January of 2018, in an effort to decode why Virginia was in the midst of a seemingly-long recruiting dry spell, I wrote a three part series breaking down the ins and outs of Virginia recruiting on a more macro level. In the second part of that series, which you can read here: (link), I went in-depth on nearly every single factor that works for or against UVA in the recruiting sphere. I wanted primarily to articulate that when recruiting is going well or poor

Sunday, November 10th

James Madison Dukes

Charlottesville

After tipping off the season with a made-for-TV conference date at the Carrier Dome, the Hoos come back to Charlottesville for a more traditional home opener. The Dukes struggled to a 6-12 finish in the Colonial last year, and went only 7-6 in their non-conference slate despite not playin...

Wednesday, November 6th

Syracuse Orange

Syracuse, NY

The Carrier Dome will surely be rocking to open the season as the Orange welcome the national champions. Can Syracuse grab a big win right off the bat? Virginia has questions marks, but so does ‘Cuse after losing key pieces in Tyus Battle, Frank Howard, Oshae Brissett, and Paschal Chukwu. Gua...

Maybe my favorite part of writing the preseason coverage each year is the chance to interact with other fans in the Twitter Mailbag. Appreciated all the write-ins this time around, and Karl Hess and StLouHoo got together to answer each of your questions.

 

It's an annual tradition as part of our Hoos Place previews that we ask our writers to make some preseason bold predictions: three for the Hoos, and another three for the ACC at large. We intend to emphasize the "Bold" in these predictions, no safe outs like predicting Virginia Tech is going to suck this year, but instead being willing to go out on a limb no matter how silly it may look now or come next April. So with that said, let's see what our writers are forecasting:

With the big exodus of NBA talent and the Hoos' fortunes dependent on a number of new faces, expectations for this season are being set a little lower than they have been the last couple years. Of course, these expectations are all relative, as they're still orders of magnitude higher than they were a decade ago, but still most Hoo fans recognize the target this year is a little less ambitious than the "Final Four Or Bust" mentality of the recent era.

With that ...

It's time to wind down our 2019-20 preseason basketball coverage. We've looked long and hard at our new and returning players. We've waxed nostalgic over last year's magical run. We've surveyed the landscape of this year's ACC. The only thing left after this is the Syracuse game preview.

So this is our space for our writers to share their final thoughts on the eve of a new season. We give them no rules to let them speak whatever's on their mind, their hopes, the...