The big question heading into ACC Operation basketball was not who would be picked to win the ACC but whether or not UNC would put four players on the All-ACC team. The Heels ended up with three players on the preseason All-ACC team including the pick for conference player of the year and being tabbed to win the regular season.
ACC Preseason Predictions
First place votes in parenthesis
1. North Carolina(57)
3. Florida State
6. Virginia Tech
8. NC State
10. Georgia Tech
11. Wake Forest
12. Boston College
Harrison Barnes, UNC: 59 votes
John Henson, UNC: 47 votes
Tyler Zeller, UNC: 46 votes
Malcolm Grant, Miami: 32 votes
(tie)Seth Curry, Duke and Mike Scott, UVa: 20 votes
Preseason Player of the Year
Harrison Barnes, UNC: 57 votes
John Henson, UNC: 2 votes
Preseason Rookie of the Year
Austin Rivers, Duke: 57 votes
James Michael McAdoo, UNC: 1 vote
Nick Faust, MD: 1 vote
It never ceases to amaze me how you have a few voters who obviously are exceptionally stupid or biased, take your pick. UNC has three players on the All-ACC team with a legitimate argument that can be made for a fourth in Kendall Marshall. Yet you have at least two writers who think Duke will finish ahead of UNC. Nothing shocking about the rest of the order. UVa strikes me as a tad high. Miami is in a good spot since they have a solid PG and Malcolm Scott. I was a little surprised that Boston College is behind Wake Forest given all the Demon Deacons' issues then you remember BC is made up of mostly freshmen. The middle is muddled because no one knows with the likes of Clemson and Virginia Tech or the new coaches at NC State, Maryland and Georgia Tech. There is a clear cut top two, next three and bottom two. Those 6-10 teams are anyone's guess.
As for the All-ACC team, having four Heels on the first team was a longshot anyway because there are simply not enough voters who feel comfortable with the notion. In my opinion Barnes and Zeller should have been locks, they are clearly the best players in the ACC at their respective positions. Henson is the leagues best defensive player and his freakish length really changes how other teams must operate in and around the basket. Assuming his offense comes along choosing him makes sense as well. That leaves Marshall who is arguably the best point guard in the ACC and the veritable engine of UNC's potentially prolific offense. Yet someone was getting left off though the case can certainly be made Marshall should be ahead of both Seth Curry and Mike Scott.
Not that it matters because at the end of the season the writers are not going to put for players on the All-ACC first team simply because there are more slots with the 2nd and 3rd teams. That is unless UNC goes 16-0, dominates the pants off everyone, Barnes and Zeller average 21 and 18 points respectively, Marshall goes for 8 dimes per game and Henson leads the league in blocked shots, rebounds while averaging double figures himself. At that point, you could see four Heels on the first team assuming no one else wows the world.
Accompanying Roy Williams to Operation Basketball was Harrison Barnes and John Henson. Nothing earth shattering came from any of the media appearances. Henson emphasized they were focused on being the best team in the last three weeks of the season not the first three. Barnes said the added experience from his freshman year will help him be better prepared and allow him to focus on small areas of his game. Roy broke out the standard "we think we can be really good providing we do x, y and z." Basically what he says every year.
To really get you into basketball mode, be sure to check out the always excellent Luke Winn at SI.com who took in practice on Monday and offered some nice insights on Barnes, Zeller and Henson.