Defending ACC and national champion Maryland, Wake Forest and Boston College face major rebuilding, Clemson and Virginia Tech lost their coaches in the offseason, Virginia and Duke begin the season with question marks. That leaves only No. 1 North Carolina and N.C. State reasonably confident about what they have to offer.
Enthusiasm is high in Raleigh, as evidenced by the 1,800 fans who turned out on opening day to watch the Wolfpack defeat Winthrop, 3-1. N.C. State was one of the best teams in the ACC over the second half of last season, winning eight of its last 11 games, and it returned everyone. Seven seniors, three juniors and one sophomore started in Tuesday's opener.
The Wolfpack's lineup is a mix of locals -- five starters from North Carolina -- and foreigners -- including starters born in Cameroon, Congo, England, Venezuela and Argentina, Coach George Tarantini's home country (his brother Alberto starred on the 1978 World Cup championship team).
Ronnie Bouemboue, who was born in Congo and attended high school in Brooklyn, is the Wolfpack's top scoring threat and most inspirational player. He missed most of the 2006 season and all of the 2007 season with knee injuries but recovered to score 14 goals in 2008. Bouemboue, who had a goal and an assist against Winthrop, was nominated for the 2009 Lowe's Senior CLASS award, having served two terms as the president of N.C. State's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and been active in charity works.
All four other foreigners are second-year seniors. Left back Korede Aiyegbusi, who was born in London to Nigerian parents and represented England in the 2009 World University Games, and Cameroonian midfielder Chrystel Bakong both took the JC route to Raleigh. Defenders Federico Nachmann, 24, and Romulo Manzano, 21, arrived last season from Argentina and Venezuela, respectively.
* No. 4 Indiana will be without Soccer America Preseason All-American Ofori Sarkodie for the rematch of its 2008 NCAA quarterfinal match with No. 3 St. John's Friday at the adidas/IU Credit Union Classic in Bloomington. Sarkodie is serving a one-game suspension for his red card in the Hoosiers' 3-2 loss to St. John's.
TOP 25 MATCHUPS:
No. 4 Indiana vs. No. 3 St. John's (adidas/IU Credit Union Classic)
No. 5 Wake Forest vs. No. 10 Notre Dame (adidas/IU Credit Union Classic)
No. 8 Maryland vs. No. 9 UCLA
No. 6 Creighton vs. No. 20 Cal Poly
No. 13 Connecticut vs. No. 24 Boston Univ.
No. 22 Tulsa vs. No. 2 Akron (Radisson Tulsa Airport Classic)
No. 3 St. John's vs. No. 10 Notre Dame (adidas/IU Credit Union Classic)
No. 4 Indiana vs. No. 5 Wake Forest (adidas/IU Credit Union Classic)
(Follow all the action with Soccer America's Men's College Weekend Scoreboard.)