Virginia has won two of the past five ACC tournaments that have been contested, the 2019 national championship and has compiled a 104-24 record since 2013-14.
But until Wednesday, the Cavaliers had never been picked as the conference’s preseason favorite during the tenure of coach Tony Bennett.
UVa received 97 of 155 first-place votes and a total of 2,214 points to easily outdistance Duke in a poll of media members covering the ACC.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s Blue Devils received 34 first-place votes and 2,146 points to place second, with the rest of the top five consisting of defending regular season champion Florida State, North Carolina and Louisville.
The Seminoles (15), Tar Heels (7) and Cardinals (2) were the only other teams to receive first-place votes.
NC State was picked to finish eighth with 1,149 points, while Wake Forest, with 229 points, was picked to finish last in the league in its first season under new coach Steve Forbes.
Individually, UNC’s Garrison Brooks was named the ACC’s Preseason Player of the Year. The senior forward, who averaged 16.8 points and 8.5 rebounds per game last season, received 102 votes to win by a wide margin over Virginia’s Sam Hauser. The graduate transfer from Marquette finished with 24 votes.
Joining Brooks and Hauser on the preseason All-ACC first team are Florida State’s Scottie Barnes — also the preseason Rookie of the Year — Duke freshman Jalen Johnson, Clemson’s Aamir Simms and Miami’s Chris Lykes. Simms and Lykes finished with identical vote totals.
The preseason All-ACC second team consists of Louisville’s David Johnson, Georgia Tech’s Jose Alvarado, Florida State’s M.J. Walker, Virginia’s Kihei Clark and Duke’s Wendell Moore Jr.
The 2020-21 basketball season is scheduled to begin on Wednesday, Nov. 25.