CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Duke is the favorite to win the expanded Atlantic Coast Conference, though new member Syracuse has the preseason player of the year in C.J. Fair.
The Blue Devils earned 50 of 54 first-place votes from media members at the league's "ACC Operation Basketball" media day Wednesday. Syracuse — which joins the ACC along with Pittsburgh and Notre Dame from the now-defunct Big East — was picked second and earned three first-place votes, while North Carolina was picked third and earned the last one.
It marked the 10th time in 17 years that the Blue Devils were picked to finish first in the league, though the first since before the 2010-11 season following Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski's fourth national championship. This year's team returns starters Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon from a 30-win team that reached an NCAA regional final before falling to eventual champion Louisville, which joins the ACC next season.
That duo will join with highly touted freshman Jabari Parker, picked as the league's rookie of the year, and Mississippi State sophomore transfer Rodney Hood to form Duke's core.
Both Parker and Hood were picked to the preseason all-ACC team, joining Fair, Virginia senior guard Joe Harris and Notre Dame senior guard Jerian Grant on the five-man squad.
Fair, a 6-foot-8 senior, was the top scorer at nearly 15 points per game for the Orange, who reached the Final Four last year under Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim. He earned 17 votes for player of the year to edge out Harris, who earned 16 votes and is the only returning player from last year's all-ACC first team.
Virginia was picked fourth, followed by Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Maryland, Boston College, Florida State, North Carolina State, Georgia Tech, reigning champion Miami, Wake Forest, Clemson and Virginia Tech.
This will be Maryland's final year in the league before leaving for the Big Ten.
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