CHARLOTTESVILLE — Virginia ended last season as one of the ACC’s hottest teams. Expectations are that Tony Bennett’s club will pick up where it left off this year.
UVA, ranked fourth in the nation, is the favorite to win the conference title, according to a vote of media members announced Wednesday.
“When it’s time to step on the floor, our rankings don’t really matter,” junior point guard Kihei Clark said. “It’s just whoever plays better that day, so you got to still prepare the right way and just come in with the same mindset every game.”
It’s just the second time Virginia has been picked to win the ACC, and the first since 1982-83, Ralph Sampson’s senior season.
“It’s a cool thing, but we’ve also been in situations where we were ranked really high and didn’t do very well, and we’ve been in situations where we weren’t ranked and did better,” senior forward Jay Huff said. “So at the end of the day, the only ranking that matters is at the end of the season. We don’t try to put a whole lot of weight on what we’re ranked in the preseason. We know that can change quickly.”
Sharp-shooting forward Sam Hauser, who transferred to Virginia from Marquette last year and sat out last season, finished second in the preseason player-of-the-year voting behind North Carolina forward Garrison Brooks.
“It’s cool to get recognition, but I’m just worried about what I can do to help the team in the best way,” Hauser said. “I try not to buy into the outside expectations, so I just kind of stick to what the coaches want for me and what I want for myself. But it’s cool to get some recognition.”
Clark was named to the second team.
Virginia, which won eight straight to end last season, was picked first on 97 of the 155 ballots, finishing ahead of Duke, Florida State, North Carolina and Louisville. Virginia Tech was predicted to come in 11th in the 15-team league, behind the top five and Syracuse, Miami, North Carolina State, Georgia Tech and Clemson.
Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Boston College and Wake Forest were tabbed for the final four spots in the league standings.
UVA opens the season Nov. 25 against Maine in Connecticut. The Hokies tip off Nov. 28 against Temple, also in Connecticut.
Florida State’s Scottie Barnes, Duke’s Jalen Johnson, Clemson’s Aamir Simms and Miami’s Chris Lykes joined Brooks and Hauser on the preseason first team.
Louisville’s David Johnson, Georgia Tech’s Jose Alvarado, Florida State’s M.J. Walker and Duke’s Wendell Moore Jr. were named to the second team with Clark.
2020-21 ACC predicted order of finish
1. Virginia (97), 2214
2. Duke (34), 2146
3. Florida State (15), 1973
4. North Carolina (7), 1933
5. Louisville (2), 1693
6. Syracuse, 1234
7. Miami, 1223
8. NC State, 1149
9. Georgia Tech, 1147
10. Clemson, 1057
11. Virginia Tech, 794
12. Notre Dame, 769
13. Pitt, 635
14. Boston College, 404
15. Wake Forest, 229
First-place votes in parentheses; 155 total voters
(with school and points in poll)
First team: Garrison Brooks, North Carolina, 137; Sam Hauser, Virginia, 89; Scottie Barnes, Florida State, 59; Jalen Johnson, Duke, 52; Aamir Simms, Clemson, 50; Chris Lykes, Miami, 50
Second team: David Johnson, Louisville, 46; Jose Alvarado, Georgia Tech, 43; M.J. Walker, Florida State, 38; Kihei Clark, Virginia, 37; Wendell Moore Jr., Duke, 32
Player of the year: Garrison Brooks, North Carolina, 102; Sam Hauser, Virginia, 24; M.J. Walker, Florida State, 10; Wendell Moore Jr., Duke, 7; Aamir Simms, Clemson, 5; Matthew Hurt, Duke, 3; Chris Lykes, Miami, 3; Kihei Clark, Virginia, 1
Freshman of the year: Scottie Barnes, Florida State, 64; Jalen Johnson, Duke, 60; Caleb Love, North Carolina, 9; Day’Ron Sharpe, North Carolina, 6; DJ Steward, Duke, 4; Reece Beekman, Virginia, 3; Jeremy Roach, Duke, 3; RJ Davis, North Carolina, 3; Mark Williams, Duke, 2; Cam Hayes, NC State, 1