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ACC: UNC Picked 3rd; Barnes ROY

The ACC preseason basketball poll was released Wednesday afternoon with UNC picked 3rd over all behind Duke and Virginia Tech. UNC also received one first place vote denying Duke a unanimous pick at #1. Here is how the ACC media ranked the league for the 2010-11 basketball season.

1. Duke(62)
2. Virginia Tech
3. UNC(1)
4. NC State
5. Florida St.
6. Maryland
7. Clemson
8. Miami
9. Georgia Tech
10. Boston College
11. Virginia
12. Wake Forest

Third place is probably about right. And no I don't think having Will Graves would have moved UNC past Virginia Tech. The Hokies return plenty of experience and great guard play. Duke is an easy choice for #1 returning two top scorers who are joined by Kyrie Irving, Seth Curry and a pair of Plumlees. UNC can still contend for the top spot but the Heels lack depth and quite frankly we still don't know for sure what Larry Drew, John Henson and Tyler Zeller for that matter are going to really produce. Dexter Strickland, Leslie McDonald and Reggie Bullock are total X factors as well. The only consensus anyone has reached is that Harrison Barnes is going to be really, really good hence him being voted Rookie of the Year.

Right behind UNC is NCSU which adds a trio of talented freshmen to preseason All-ACC choice Tracy Smith and senior PG Javi Gonzalez. This will be Sidney Lowe's first quality team, well quality team with players who actually give a crap. Having UNC, Duke and NCSU sitting in such cozy proximity to one another in the ACC preseason poll means we could be in for an epic season around here.

I think the league can easily be broken into three tiers. The top four, the next five and the bottom three. Looking at FSU, Maryland, Clemson, Miami and Georgia Tech you are talking about five teams who lost key personnel from a season ago and will be looking to shore up those losses with largely unproven commodities. FSU is probably best equipped with Derwin Kitchen and Chris Singleton, who was named to the preseason All-ACC squad. Maryland has to replace Greivis Vasquez. Clemson is missing a Booker and has a new head coach. The fact Miami has Durand Scott at PG means they bring something to the table but what else is the big question. As for Georgia Tech what can I say, the Jackets are still being coached by Paul Hewitt largely thanks to his wife.

At the bottom, Boston College lost everyone or so it seems and fired Al Skinner replacing him with Steve Donahue. Virginia is still rebuilding and Wake Forest has a new coach and just lost Tony Woods who was charged with assaulting his girlfriend. However Chas McFarland is gone so at least when teams play the Demon Deacs the chances of losing a player because they got into a fight with McFarland have dropped 87% from last season.

2010-11 ACC Preseason Media Poll
(62 ballots)

Predicted Order of Finish
Duke (61) 743
Virginia Tech 632
North Carolina (1) 622
NC State 526
Florida State 496
Maryland 432
Clemson 335
Miami 305
Georgia Tech 274
Boston College 173
Virginia 164
Wake Forest 134

Preseason All-Conference Team
Kyle Singler, Duke 62
Malcolm Delaney, VT 61
Nolan Smith, Duke 55
Tracy Smith, NCSU 45
Chris Singleton, FSU 29

Preseason Player of the Year
Kyle Singler, Duke 38

Preseason Rookie of the Year
Harrison Barnes, UNC 46