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Tar Heels picked as preseason ACC basketball favorite

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- North Carolina is the favorite to win the Atlantic Coast Conference, while Tar Heels sophomore Harrison Barnes is the league's preseason player of the year.

The Tar Heels were picked first on 57 of 59 ballots from media members during Wednesday's ACC Operation Basketball event. In addition, UNC's John Henson and Tyler Zeller joined Barnes -- a unanimous pick -- as the top three vote-getters on the all-ACC team.

It wasn't a surprise that the Tar Heels were such a big preseason favorite. They return all five starters from a team that won 29 games and the ACC regular-season title before falling a game short of the Final Four with a loss to Kentucky.

Barnes, Henson and Zeller all weighed an early jump to the NBA before opting to return to school, while the Tar Heels also added a pair of McDonald's All-Americans in forward James Michael McAdoo and outside shooter P.J. Hairston.

Duke was picked to finish second and received the other two first-place votes despite losing veteran scorers Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler as well as Kyrie Irving, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft despite playing just one injury-shortened season for Mike Krzyzewski.

Junior guard Seth Curry was also voted to the all-ACC team while freshman guard Austin Rivers was voted rookie of the year for the Blue Devils, who beat the Tar Heels in last year's ACC tournament final to win the event for the 10th time in 13 years.

Florida State was picked third, followed by Virginia, Miami, Virginia Tech, Clemson, North Carolina State, Maryland, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest and Boston College.

Miami's Malcolm Grant and Virginia's Mike Scott also made the all-ACC team. Curry and Scott tied for the final spot.