Just a couple of days from being selected as the AP preseason #1 team in the country, we have learned that the Tar Heels were selected as the favorite to win the ACC by conference media members. While this isn’t exactly the biggest surprise considering the national ranking, it does solidify the fact that Hubert Davis’ team is set up to do a lot of special things this season IF things play out the way that everyone hopes. This is the first time that the Heels have been picked to win the ACC since the 2015-16 season when they went on to win the regular season, the ACC tournament title, and made it all the way to the national championship game. No, we don’t need to talk about what happened in that game.
We also learned yesterday that Armando Bacot has been selected as the Preseason ACC Player of the Year, and the voting wasn’t even close. Bacot earned 82 votes from media members, and the next closest was Miami’s Isaiah Wong with five. Yes, you read that correctly: the next closest was five. Bacot’s game has constantly evolved throughout his UNC career, and last year he was dangerously close to unstoppable. His teammates have claimed that he has gotten even better over the summer, and this could finally be the season that we see him shooting more mid to long-range shots. If he’s able to shoot away from the paint with any kind of respectable efficiency, I don’t think there’s going to be anybody in the ACC that will be able to stop him.
Bacot also earned ACC first-team honors alongside Caleb Love, who will be going into his junior season. R.J. Davis made the second team, and combined the three Tar Heels have the most representation of any school in both lists combined. It is also worth noting that Tyler Nickel, Jalen Washington, and Seth Trimble received votes for Preseason Rookie of the Year, but media members selected Duke’s Dereck Lively II for the ROY honors.
To state the obvious, preseason honors do not mean a whole lot unless the team is able to produce on the basketball court in a few weeks. However, it’s also worth keeping in mind that this isn’t a preseason favorite that has 10 freshmen on the team ***cough cough***: this is a team that proved that they have what it takes to make it to the Final Four just last season, and Hubert Davis added new, extremely talented pieces to make them even more dangerous. Sure, it’s extremely difficult to make it to the Final Four considering the fact that one bad game ends your season. However, as far as the ACC goes? I think the Tar Heels are easily the team to beat, but they will have to resist the urge to play down to their opponents in order to do so.
UNC’s regular season begins on November 7th when they take on UNC Wilmington in the Dean Smith Center.