Duke picked as ACC basketball favorite; UNC’s Cole Anthony picked as top freshman

Having won two of the last three ACC championships, while not finishing first in the regular-season standings since 2010, Duke is the favorite to win this year’s ACC basketball title, according to a media poll released by the league on Thursday.

In voting by media members attending the ACC’s Operation Basketball season tipoff event in Charlotte on Tuesday, Duke received 51 first-place votes off the 111 ballots submitted. The Blue Devils scored 1,564 points in the balloting, finishing ahead of North Carolina, which had 19 first-place votes and 1,493 points.

Louisville received the second-most first-place votes (29) but finished No. 3 overall with 1,448 points. Reigning NCAA champion Virginia was fourth with 1,405 points and 11 first-place votes.

UNC and Virginia tied for first place in last year’s ACC regular-season standings before Duke won the ACC tournament in Charlotte to claim the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

The Blue Devils return two starters, sophomore guard Tre Jones and senior forward Javin DeLaurier.

Jones was named to the preseason first-team all-ACC team on Thursday, with UNC freshman guard Cole Anthony also on that five-man team.

North Carolina’s Cole Anthony (2) runs the offense during the Tar Heels’ practice on Wednesday, October 2, 2019 at the Smith Center in Chapel Hill, N.C. Robert Willett rwillett@newsobserver.com

Preseason player of the year pick Jordan Nwora of Louisville joined them on the first team along with Notre Dame’s John Mooney and Virginia’s Mamadi Diakite.

N.C. State was picked to finish sixth while Wolfpack senior guard Markell Johnson made the all-ACC second team.

Here is the full rundown of the preseason predicted order of finish, along with the player of the year, freshman of the year and all-ACC team selections:

ACC basketball preseason order of finish

(first-place votes in parentheses)

1. Duke (51), 1564

2. North Carolina (19), 1493

3. Louisville (29), 1448

4. Virginia (12), 1405

5. Florida State, 1157

6. NC State, 1038

7. Notre Dame, 915

8. Syracuse, 910

9. Miami, 768

10. Pitt, 577

11. Clemson, 564

12. Georgia Tech, 437

13. Boston College, 382

14. Virginia Tech, 334

15. Wake Forest, 328

Preseason All-ACC team

First Team

Jordan Nwora, Louisville, 95

Tre Jones, Duke, 89

Cole Anthony, North Carolina, 81

John Mooney, Notre Dame, 51

Mamadi Diakite, Virginia, 49

Second Team

Markell Johnson, NC State, 39

Vernon Carey Jr., Duke, 19

Chris Lykes, Miami, 18

Garrison Brooks, North Carolina, 11

Trent Forrest, Florida State, 11

Preseason ACC Player of the Year

Jordan Nwora, Louisville, 55

Cole Anthony, North Carolina, 31

Tre Jones, Duke, 19

John Mooney, Notre Dame, 3

Mamadi Diakite, Virginia, 2

Markell Johnson, NC State, 1

Preseason ACC Freshman of the Year

Cole Anthony, North Carolina, 89

Vernon Carey Jr., Duke, 8

Wendell Moore Jr., Duke, 5

Casey Morsell, Virginia, 3

Cassius Stanley, Duke, 3

Matthew Hurt, Duke, 3

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An Illinois native, Steve Wiseman has covered Duke athletics since 2010 for the Durham Herald-Sun and Raleigh News & Observer. Prior to his arrival in Durham, he worked for newspapers in Columbia and Spartanburg, S.C., Biloxi, Miss., and Charlotte covering beats including the NFL’s Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints, University of South Carolina athletics and the S.C. General Assembly.