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February 4, 2008

Conference Previews: ACC

Rivals.com Top 25 Rankings | National Message Board

Rivals.com's ACC Preview
Predicted order of finish Preseason all-conference

1. Florida State
2. Clemson
3. Wake Forest
4. N.C. State
5. Boston College
6. Maryland

1. Miami
2. North Carolina
3. Virginia
4. Georgia Tech
5. Duke
6. Virginia Tech
1B. Yonder Alonso, Miami
2B. David Adams, Virginia
3B. Mark Sobolewski, Miami
SS. Greg Miclat, Virginia
OF. Jack Rye, Florida State
OF. Tim Fedroff, North Carolina
OF. Dennis Raben, Miami
C. Buster Posey, Florida State
SP. Eric Erickson, Miami
SP. Jacob Thompson, Virginia
SP. Eric Surkamp, N.C. State
RP. Eryk McConnell, N.C. State
DH. Dustin Ackley, North Carolina
ACC breakdown
Team on the rise
After failing to get to the College World Series last season, the Hurricanes enter 2008 with extra motivation. That is bad news for opposing teams. The Hurricanes welcome back one of the nation's best offenses with Yonder Alonso, Mark Sobolewski and Dennis Raben leading the charge. Meanwhile, Jemile Weeks and Blake Tekotte expect to have productive campaigns. Eric Erickson and Enrique Garcia spearhead the pitching staff, while veteran Carlos Gutierrez brings experience to the bullpen.
Coach on the rise
Rick Rembielak
Rick Rembielak and the Demon Deacons have something to be proud of this season. After reaching the NCAA Tournament with a 34-29 record last season, the Deacons hope to make a bigger statement in 2008. Wake should have a solid pitching staff. Garrett Bullock and Brad Kledzik spearhead the weekend rotation, while senior Ben Hunter is another pitcher to watch. The Deacons will also have a productive offense with Allan Dykstra, Brett Linnenkohl and Dustin Hood as the headliners. Wake has the ability to make another push this season. Look for Rembielak's stock to rise.
Best pitcher
Jacob Thompson
With Vanderbilt's David Price signing with the Devil Rays last summer, Virginia right-hander Jacob Thompson became the nation's top pitcher. Thompson has put together an impressive career. The junior went a perfect 11-0 with a 1.50 ERA in 114 innings of work last season. He also struck out 101 and walked 32, while opponents hit him at a .198 clip. He allowed just seven doubles and five homers in 2007.
Best hitter
Dustin Ackley
Choosing between Miami's Yonder Alonso and North Carolina's Dustin Ackley is tough, but we're giving a slight edge to the Tar Heel sophomore. Ackley had a phenomenal freshman campaign. He batted .402 with 10 homers and 74 RBIs. He also slugged .591 and had a .448 on-base percentage. Additionally, he finished the year with 20 doubles, three triples and 175 total bases. Ackley and Alonso are simply the best.
Kendall's analysis
It shouldn't come as a surprise, but the ACC should be outstanding this season. After failing to meet expectations last season, Miami enters the spring as the favorite with the return of Yonder Alonso, Mark Sobolewski, Eric Erickson and others While the Hurricanes lead the way, North Carolina is close behind. The Tar Heels have some questions to answer on the mound, but keep an eye on talented freshman pitcher Matt Harvey. UNC should have another good offense with sophomores Dustin Ackley and Tim Fedroff as the headliners Even without several key offensive contributors, Clemson should still be in the mix with the return of weekend starters D.J. Mitchell and Ryan Hinson in addition to hard-hitting catcher Doug Hogan Georgia Tech and N.C. State are flying under the radar early, but have the ability to finish in the top 25. Keep an eye on left-hander David Duncan (Georgia Tech) and pitchers Eryk McConnell and Eric Surkamp (N.C. State) Duke is another team to watch. The Blue Devils made improvements last year and enter the season with one of the league's best pitchers sophomore righty Michael Seander.

Kendall Rogers is the college baseball editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at rogersk@yahoo-inc.com.