The Dagger - NCAAB

Each Wednesday until the college basketball season starts, an ex-player will help The Dagger preview his former conference. ESPN analyst and former Duke big man Jay Bilas was kind enough to join us this week to provide a scouting report on the ACC:

1. Who's your pick to win the ACC next season?

Duke is a clear favorite this year, but there certainly are some teams that can challenge them. I think North Carolina should be a lot better. Virginia Tech should be very good and an NCAA tournament team. There are a number of teams that will be good in the league. I don't think we're looking at quite as good of an ACC as it's been, but there will be some solid teams.

Other Voices Worth Your Attention
Twenty players, coaches, reporters or bloggers worth following on Twitter for your daily ACC basketball fix.

• Nolan Smith, Duke guard: @NdotSmitty
• Robbi Pickeral, Raleigh News & Observer reporter: @bylinerp
• Leonard Hamilton, Florida State coach: @FSUCoachHam
• Jim Young, editor of ACC Sports Journal: @ACCSports
• Dan Steinberg, Washington Post sports blogger: @dcsportsbog
• Brett Friedlander, ACC Sports reporter for Wilmington Star-News: @starnewsacc
• Frank Haith, Miami coach: @CoachHaith
• Steve Yanda, Virginia beat writer for the Washington Post: @CavsJournal
• Testudo Times, a blog devoted to Maryland athletics: @testudotimes
• Jeff Barker, Maryland beat writer for the Baltimore Sun: @sunjeffbarker
• Brandon Rink, founder of ACCBlogger.com @accblogger
• Adam Rowe, founder DukeHoopBlog.com: @DukeHoopBlog
• John Henson, North Carolina forward: @johnhenson31
• BC Interruption, a Boston College sports blog: @bcinterruption
• Tar Heel Wire, news and analysis of North Carolina basketball: @TarHeelWire
Doug Roberson and Carroll Rogers, Georgia Tech beat writers for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: @ajcgatech
• Seth Greenberg, Virginia Tech coach: @HeadHokie
• Dave Bradley, Duke's recruiting and communications coordinator and founder of DukeBluePlanet.com: @dukeblueplanet
• Patrick Stevens, former Maryland beat writer for Washington Times and founder of D1scourse.com: @D1scourse
• Travis McKie, Wake Forest guard: @travismckie

2. Is there a team you expect to struggle more than usual?

The disappointment of last year was North Carolina, but I don't think we'll see that happen again. I don't really see anybody that's not going to live up to what they've done. Wake Forest has lost some guys but they have some good players coming in. Wake Forest was just 9-7 in the league last year. They weren't that great.

3. Who's your pick for preseason ACC player of the year? 

Probably Kyle Singler. He's a heck of a player. Every summer I've taught at the LeBron James skills academy, he's been right there as one of the best players there. He'll be challenged by Malcolm Delaney. He's a great player and he'll have a great year. Nolan Smith made a really big jump this year, and Chris Singleton from Florida State is very good. And then the kid from Carolina, Harrison Barnes, could be that kind of player but I don't know if he'll jump into that level right away. We'll have to see. 

4. Which incoming freshman will make the biggest impact?

Harrison Barnes and Kyrie Irving are the two best players coming into the league. Barnes is really mature. He knows how to play. He does everything and he doesn't rush anything. He's got a great feel and a great understanding. He's not one of those kids who will try to hit a home run every time up. He's really a polished first-year player. Irving is quick with the ball, he can get from point A to point B with his speed and he can get into the lane and make plays. They haven't had that for a while they haven't had a guy who can really get into the lane. I think he'll work well with a guy like Smith who has really improved his mid-range game.

5. Which ACC player is the most underrated?

Malcolm Delaney's underrated. He's kind of a slippery player. He's hard to guard and he's a very good scorer. He's a tough matchup. He's a guy that really does a good job of finding openings, and I thought his ability to get to the free throw line was really impressive. The other kid who's an underrated player is Dorenzo Hudson from Virginia Tech. He had a good year last year. That kid is good.

6. Which ACC building is the most difficult on opposing teams?

Usually the one that has the best team playing in it. I've always laughed at that, to be honest. Buildings aren't hard to play in. It's teams that are hard to play against. There are tough places to play, but I've never heard any coach blame a loss on the crowd. 

7. If you could go back in time, what ACC coach would you most like to play for?

I chose to play for Coach K and I'd do it again in the heartbeat, but if I took him out of it, I'd love to play for either Williams, Gary or Roy. Gary's just so intense. I don't think there's anyone who wants to win more than Gary. And I think his style of play is something I would have enjoyed learning about as a player. Same thing for Roy Williams. He's a different temperament, but I would have loved to have learned more about that system. When I go to their practices, I'm always fascinated by the way they run and they get up and down the floor. It sounds easy but it's a really hard way to play. The secondary break they run is just fabulous.

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