Feelin' Tar Heel Blue

By Josh Herwitt - October 21, 2007

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- We're wrapping up ACC Media Day here with the coaches and players leaving the Grandover Hotel -- quite a fine hotel I must say -- so I'll bid farewell with a few more notes about today's event.

North Carolina, which figures to be the No. 1 team in the nation when the preseason polls are released in a matter of days, was voted by the media as the preseason favorite to win the ACC. The Tar Heels earned 768 votes, including 65 first-place votes, while Duke followed with 653 votes.

But the funny thing was the Blue Devils did not receive one first-place vote, something you wouldn't expect very often to see. Either way, it certainly says something about the way people are viewing Coach K's team this year -- good, but not the best. That seems to belong to Roy Williams' Tar Heels, who unquestionably have the most experience, talent and depth of any ACC team.

But don't forget about the Blue Devils. You can never count them out with that Hall of Famer in the coaching box.

N.C. State came in third on the ballot with 641 votes after a 2006-07 campaign that saw the Wolfpack make a push in the NCAA Tournament all the way to the title game before running into a more polished North Carolina squad. Instead, Sidney Lowe finished his first season with a loss in the NIT quarterfinals but now returns four players who averaged double-digit points last season.

One of those players was senior Gavin Grant, and I got a chance to speak with the 6-foot-8 senior during the players session. Unfortunately Grant didn't exactly understand what I was getting at in asking about all the
hype that's been around this year's incoming freshmen class across the country, but I did get some response from him on the NBA Draft age limit that began last season.

"It's definitely good to get more talent in every league, so the age limit is going to be good for college basketball," Grant said. "A couple guys are gonna opt out and leave early, but it's good to have the talent for a year. It's better to have some talent than to not."

However, my follow-up didn't go quite as well.

Me: Does the one-and-done scenario hurt college basketball or the league, though?

Grant: I don't know. I don't even think it through that far. What do you think? If I had a chance to a make a million dollars, I wouldn't be sitting here talking to you. I'd be making a million dollars some place. I can't blame them.

Meanwhile, Oliver Purnell's Clemson Tigers finished fourth in the preseason poll, capturing 514 votes followed by Virginia and Maryland.

Here's how the poll broke down:

North Carolina - 768 (64)
Duke - 653
N.C. State - 641
Clemson - 514
Virginia - 492
Maryland - 447
Georgia Tech - 389
Boston College - 332
Florida State - 284
Virginia Tech - 162
Wake Forest - 157
Miami - 153

The ACC Preseason Team was also released and the Tar Heels once again are leading the way with two candidates:

Tyler Hansbrough, Jr., North Carolina
Sean Singletary, Sr., Virginia
Tyrese Rice, Jr., Boston College
Brandon Costner, So., N.C. State
Ty Lawson, So., North Carolina

And as far as the ACC's Player of the Year goes, the media didn't have doubts in who they were going with:

Tyler Hansbrough - 60
Sean Singletary - 4

But don't count out the Virginia senior just yet. After all, Singletary did rank third in the ACC in scoring last year with 19 points per game. We'll see how the senior from Philadelphia does this season with a target now on his back.

While North Carolina and Virginia look to have the most veteran talent of any club in the conference, Duke has two freshmen who are already creating a buzz for themselves. Kyle Singler, the Medford, Ore., native who has made the trek to Durham, N.C. to play for Mike Krzyzewski, looks to be the favorite for ACC Preseason Rookie of the Year, while Oak Hill Academy's Nolan Smith also made the ballot. Here's how the votes went down:

Kyle Singler, Duke - 36
J.J. Hickson, N.C. State - 15
Nolan Smith, Duke - 5
5 others with 8 votes

That's all from ACC Media Day. Check back on Tuesday for more media day coverage from Madison Square Garden, where the MAAC will be meeting with the press to kick off the 2007-08 season.

Posted by Josh Herwitt at 07:05 PM on October 21, 2007

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