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No. 9 Duke favored in preseason ACC poll

The Associated Press

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Ninth-ranked Duke is the preseason favorite to win the Atlantic Coast Conference in its final season under Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski, while touted Blue Devils freshman Paolo Banchero is the pick to be the league’s player and freshman of the year.

The ACC released results Monday from voting by 81 media members at last week’s men’s basketball preseason media day in Charlotte.

Duke received 47 first-place votes to finish ahead of No. 20 Florida State, while No. 19 North Carolina was picked to finish third in its first season under Hubert Davis after the retirement of Hall of Famer Roy Williams.

No. 25 Virginia was picked fourth, followed by Virginia Tech, Louisville, Syracuse, Notre Dame, North Carolina State, Georgia Tech, Clemson, Miami, Wake Forest, Pittsburgh and Boston College.

The 6-foot-10, 250-pound Banchero received 28 votes for player of the year to finish ahead of Virginia Tech’s Keve Aluma (16) and Syracuse’s Buddy Boeheim (13). Banchero earned 64 votes for top freshman, with Duke teammate Trevor Keels second with five.

Boeheim was the leading vote-getter on the preseason all-ACC first-team, joining Banchero, Aluma, North Carolina’s Armando Bacot and Miami’s Isaiah Wong.

Georgia Tech’s Michael Devoe headlined the second team, joined by Virginia’s Kihei Clark, Notre Dame’s Prentiss Hubb, Duke’s Mark Williams and Wendell Moore Jr., North Carolina’s Caleb Love and Louisville’s Malik Williams. Moore, Love and Williams tied for the final spot.

Back at No. 1

Dawn Staley and South Carolina are back in a familiar spot: No. 1 in The Associated Press Top 25 women’s basketball poll.

It’s the second consecutive season that the Gamecocks are the preseason favorite.

“With who we brought back and who added for this season, we knew we would start out among the hunted, and it’s something that our program is getting used to,” said Staley, who is going into her 14th season as South Carolina coach. “Watching practice every day, I can see that we have the pieces and the competitive fire to reach all of our goals. We have a few more weeks to put those pieces together into a cohesive, successful team that can live up to this preseason ranking.”

The Gamecocks received 14 of the 29 first-place votes from a national media panel in Tuesday’s poll. UConn was second, garnering 10 first-place ballots. It’s the 15th consecutive season that the Huskies were among the top five teams in the preseason.

Defending national champion Stanford was third, getting the other five first-place votes. Maryland and North Carolina State rounded out the top five.

It’s been a busy few days for Staley. The school announced a new, seven-year contract that will pay her $2.9 million this season and grow to $3.5 million in the final season. She also believes the $22.4 million deal should make an impact on her sport and in the equality of what men and women’s coaches and athletes receive from their schools.

Indiana is No. 8, the school’s highest ranking ever in women’s basketball. There’s a lot of excitement around Bloomington, with all five starters returning from a team that went to the Elite Eight last year and had its sixth straight 20-win season.

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