Jim Williams: Pearl: Maryland may be a surprise in ACC

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When ESPN hired former Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl to be a college basketball analyst, the network knew he would be well prepared and brutally honest.

Anyone who has ever spoken to Pearl knows he presents college basketball in a fun way.

In an interview, he discussed the upcoming college basketball season and how he expects some of the local teams to do.

What are your thoughts on the ACC this season?

Pearl »

"I do like North Carolina State. They are truly worthy of being the favorite going into the start of the season. That said, this season the conference is wide open, and I know this may sound strange, but I think Duke is being overlooked. Leonard Hamilton has a very good team at FSU, and of course there is always North Carolina worthy of consideration. Now, Mark Turgeon has done a great job of rebuilding at Maryland. They could be a pleasant surprise this season, but there are some questions. Let's start with Alex Len. The 7-foot-1 Ukrainian center can be an impact player. They have another solid big man in Shaquille Cleare, who will help the Terps' talented frontcourt. The health of point guard Pe'Shon Howard and eligibility of Dez Wells are two big keys. If Len, Howard and Wells are in the lineup, Maryland could be a top-four ACC team. If not, then it falls to the freshmen to see how far the Terps can go."

What about the Big East?

Pearl »

"You have to see Louisville as the best team in the conference. They are deep and talented, plus you have Rick Pitino calling the shots. So the Cards are not only at the top of the Big East, but at the top of national rankings as well. As for Georgetown, I think they will be back in the NCAA tournament again this year. We all know about possible Big East player of the year Otto Porter. He will be their leader. They also have returning talent with Greg Whittington, Mikael Hopkins and Nate Lubick that offer depth. Then sprinkle in some talented freshmen, and the Hoyas should finish in the top tier of the Big East and that will get them back in the NCAA tournament."

Examiner columnist Jim Williams is a seven-time Emmy Award-winning TV producer, director and writer. Follow him on Twitter @wordmandc.

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