Interesting...I actually thought they would be higher. Here is the order of things as proclaimed by the ACC sports writers.
1. Virginia Tech
3. Georgia Tech
4. North Carolina
1. Florida St.
3. Boston College
4. NC State
5. Wake Forest
Here are the possible reasons UNC ended up fourth.
1. The sports writers are handicapping for possible suspensions as a result of Agent-gate.
2. The sports writers awaken in the dead of night, drenched in cold sweat having had nightmares about UNC's offense.
3. Members of the ACC media are a lot like your computer. When it comes to predictions they tend to reset to factory settings and opt for the default historical choices from the pool of VT/GT/Miami/FSU/Clemson.
My guess it is a combination of all three with the most weight falling on #2. The offense is a huge question mark. If it falters there is only so much a good defense can do. The NCAA concerns may have played a role or maybe not, hard to out a finger on the impact right now. And historical bias, as I call it, happens in basketball too. UNC benefits from it then but that is not the case in football.
The funny thing about football is UNC could end up 9-3, 5-3 in the ACC and still finish fourth. Of course such a finish is worthy of a parade if UNC can then win a New Year's Day bowl but I digress. Hard to argue with any of the three finishing ahead of UNC. The fact the top four in the Coastal all received first place votes indicates the writers would not be shocked if the top four flipped somehow.