CHARLOTTE, N.C. (theACC.com)– Duke will enter the 2014-15 season as the Atlantic Coast Conference favorite, according to a vote of media in attendance at the league’s annual “Operation Basketball.”
The Blue Devils, who return guards Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon, along with starting forward Amile Jefferson from last year’s team that finished 26-9 and tied for third place in the final ACC regular-season standings, received 41 of 65 first-place votes in Wednesday’s preseason poll. In addition to the solid group of veterans, the Blue Devils boast a talented cast of newcomers that includes 6-foot-11 freshman Jahlil Okafor.
North Carolina (12 first-place votes) finished second in the voting, followed by ACC newcomer Louisville (three first-place votes), defending ACC champion Virginia (seven first-place votes) and Syracuse (two first-place votes). Each of those four teams has joined Duke in most preseason Top 25 national rankings.
ACC preseason voters selected Pitt sixth, followed by Notre Dame, Florida State and NC State. Miami was picked 10th, while Clemson, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, Boston College and Virginia Tech completed the voting.
North Carolina junior guard Marcus Paige, who averaged 17.5 points per game and led the ACC in free-throw percentage (.911) last season, received the nod as the ACC Preseason Player of the Year. The Marion, Iowa, native received 33 votes in the Player of the Year balloting. Louisville’s Montrezl Harrell placed second with 16 votes. Duke’s Okafor, a 6-foot-11, 270-pound post player from Chicago, was the overwhelming choice as ACC Preseason Rookie of the Year on 62 of the 65 ballots cast.
Okafor also received 15 ACC Preseason Player of the Year votes, while Virginia’s Malcolm Brogdon received one.
Paige, Harrell, Okafor, Brogdon and Notre Dame’s Jerian Grant were selected as the Preseason All-ACC Team.
Duke was picked as the ACC preseason favorite for the 15th time in the 46-year history of the poll, and the 14th time under current head coach Mike Krzyzewski. The Blue Devils were also tabbed as the favorite prior to last season.
The regular season begins for all 15 ACC teams the weekend of Nov. 14-16. In addition to an 18-game regular-season conference schedule, the 62nd annual ACC Tournament will again consist of 14 games and will be played from Tuesday through Saturday (March 10-14) at the Greensboro (N.C.) Coliseum. This season’s ACC Tournament championship game will be the first since 1981 played in prime time on a Saturday night.
ACC Operation Basketball 2014-15 Preseason Poll
(First-place votes in parenthesis)
Team & Points
1. Duke (41): 935
2. North Carolina (12): 870
3. Louisville (3): 847
4. Virginia: 824 (7)
5. Syracuse: 706 (2)
6. Pitt: 592
7. Notre Dame: 515
8. Florida State: 506
9. NC State: 478
10. Miami: 442
11. Clemson: 330
12. Wake Forest: 221
13. Georgia Tech: 195
14. Boston College: 184
15. Virginia Tech: 155
2014-15 Preseason All-ACC Team
(votes in parenthesis)
Marcus Paige, North Carolina (63)
Montrezl Harrell, Louisville (58)
Jahlil Okafor, Duke (57)
Malcolm Brogdon, Virginia (55)
Jerian Grant, Notre Dame (24)
ACC Preseason Player of the Year
Marcus Paige, North Carolina
ACC Preseason Rookie of the Year
Jahlil Okafor, Duke