Written By Atlantic Coast Conference
GREENSBORO, N.C. - Defending ACC champion Duke has been named as 2013-14 Atlantic Coast Conference Women's Basketball preseason favorite in separate polls of the league's Blue Ribbon Panel and its 15 head coaches.
The Blue Devils, who return all five starters, 11 letterwinners and top seven scorers from last season's team that finished 33-3 and reached the regional final of the 2013 NCAA Women's Championship, were listed as this year's preseason favorite by 39 Blue Ribbon Panel voters.
ACC newcomer Notre Dame received 14 first-place votes and placed second in the voting, followed by Maryland (three first-place votes) and North Carolina (one first-place vote).
Florida State and Georgia Tech tied for fifth in the Blue Ribbon Panel balloting, while Syracuse was seventh, Virginia eighth and Miami ninth. NC State (10th), Boston College (11th), Wake Forest (12th), Virginia Tech (13th), Clemson (14tH) and Pittsburgh (I15th) rounded out the poll.
Duke received 10 first-place votes in the ACC coaches' balloting, while Notre Dame received five. The coaches' predicted order of finish nearly mirrored that of the Blue Ribbon panel, with the exception of Georgia Tech being chosen fifth outright instead of sharing the spot with Florida State (which placed sixth in the coaches' vote).
Two-time ACC Player of the Year Alyssa Thomas of Maryland was predicted to become a three-time winner in 2013-14 in both the Blue Ribbon Panel and the coaches' votes.
Thomas earned All-America honors as a junior after leading the ACC in scoring (18.8 ppg), rebounding (10.3 rpg) and assists (5.5 apg). The Harrisburg, Pa., native also led the conference with 20 double-doubles, including 12 in 18 regular-season ACC games.
Thomas was joined on the 2013-14 Blue Ribbon Panel Preseason All-ACC Team by Notre Dame's Natalie Achonwa and Kayla McBride, Duke's Chelsea Gray, Tricia Liston and Elizabeth Williams, Georgia Tech's Tyaunna Marshall, North Carolina's Xylina McDaniel, Virginia's Ataira Franklin and Wake Forest's Chlesea Douglas.
Thomas, McBride, Gray, Williams, Liston, Marshall, McDaniel and Franklin were also named to the Coaches' Preseason All-ACC team, along with Notre Dame's Jewell Loyd and North Carolina's Diamond DeShields.
DeShields was chosen to the Blue Ribbon Panel's Newcomer Watch List, along with Georgia Tech's Kaela Davis, Notre Dame's Taya Reimer, Duke's Oderah Chidom and Kendall McCravey-Cooper, and Maryland's Lexie Brown.
DeShields, Davis. Reimer and Chidom were also featured the Coaches Newcomer Watch List, along with Florida State's Morgan Jones.
Blue Ribbon Panel Preseason Poll
1. Duke (843 points, 39 first-place votes)
2. Notre Dame (794 points, 14 first-place votes)
3. Maryland (745 points, 3 first-place votes)
4. North Carolina (715 points, 1 first-place vote)
T5. Georgia Tech (527 points)
T5. Florida State (527 points)
7. Syracuse (517 points)
8. Virginia (470 points)
9. Miami (419 points)
10. NC State (363 points)
11. Boston College (304 points)
12. Wake Forest (263 points)
13. Virginia Tech (213 points)
14. Clemson (159 points)
15. Pittsburgh (102 points)
Atlantic Coast Conference