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Louisville Picked to Repeat as ACC Women’s Basketball Champion

Head Coach Jen Hoover and Wake Forest were selected 12th in preseason poll.
Credit: WFMY News 2 Sports

GREENSBORO, N.C. (theACC.com) – Louisville is the 2020-21 Atlantic Coast Conference Women’s Basketball preseason favorite, according to separate polls of the league’s 15 head coaches and the Blue Ribbon Panel.

The Cardinals received 45 of 57 first-place votes from the Blue Ribbon Panel for a total of 840 points and 13 of 15 first-place votes from the head coaches to finish with 223 points to lead the voting. Louisville was chosen as the preseason favorite for the second consecutive season, after winning the regular-season title in 2019-20 to earn the No. 1 seed in the ACC Tournament.

NC State, the 2020 ACC Tournament Champion, received the remaining two first-place votes in the head coaches’ poll and 10 from the Blue Ribbon Panel to finish second in both with 210 and 797 points, respectively. Syracuse was third in both polls, collecting two first-place votes from the Blue Ribbon Panel.

Notre Dame collected 555 points from the Blue Ribbon Panel to occupy fourth place, one spot ahead of North Carolina with 547. The Tar Heels were tabbed fourth in the Head Coaches poll with 157 points, followed by Georgia Tech with 146 points and Notre Dame with 138.

Virginia Tech, Florida State and Boston College were picked seventh, eighth and ninth by the head coaches, followed by Miami, Duke, Wake Forest, Clemson, Pitt and Virginia. The Blue Ribbon Panel voted Florida State and Virginia Tech sixth and seventh, respectively, then Boston College, Georgia Tech, Duke, Miami, Wake Forest, Clemson, Virginia and Pitt to round out the poll.

Louisville’s Dana Evans, an Associated Press, USBWA and WBCA All-American and the 2019-20 ACC Player of the Year, was chosen as the ACC Preseason Player of the Year by the head coaches and Blue Ribbon Panel. The Gary, Indiana, native was a first-team All-ACC selection last year and a semifinalist for the Citizen Naismith Trophy, given to the nation’s most outstanding player.

After earning the league’s Sixth Player of the Year honor two seasons ago, Evans increased her scoring average from 10.4 points per game as a sophomore to 18.0 ppg last season. She became the first player in ACC basketball history (men or women) to receive the conference’s Sixth Player of the Year honor and later earn Player of the Year.

Evans led the league and ranked 16th in the nation with 90 made 3-pointers. She shot 43.1 percent from beyond the arc to lead the conference and rank among the top 20 in the NCAA.

Boston College’s Taylor Soule, North Carolina’s Janelle Bailey, NC State’s Elissa Cunane, Syracuse’s Kiara Lewis and Tiana Mangakahia, Virginia Tech’s Elizabeth Kitley and Aisha Sheppard, and Wake Forest’s Ivana Raca joined Evans on both Preseason All-ACC Teams.

Notre Dame’s Sam Brunelle earned a spot on the Blue Ribbon Preseason All-ACC Team, and NC State’s Jakia Brown-Turner secured preseason All-ACC from the head coaches.

The Newcomer Watch Lists were nearly identical in both polls and included Louisville’s Hailey Van Lith, North Carolina’s Deja Kelly, Notre Dame’s Maddy Westbeld and Syracuse’s Kamilla Cardoso. Kianna Smith of Louisville was selected to the Head Coaches’ list, while Florida State’s Tiana England garnered mention from the Blue Ribbon Panel.

Head Coaches & Blue Ribbon Panel Preseason Player of the Year

Dana Evans, Louisville, Sr., G

Head Coaches Preseason All-ACC Team

Taylor Soule, Boston College, Jr., F

Dana Evans, Louisville, Sr., G (12 Preseason Player of the Year Votes)

Janelle Bailey, North Carolina, Sr., C

Jakia Brown-Turner, NC State So., G

Elissa Cunane, NC State, Jr., C (3)

Kiara Lewis, Syracuse, Sr., G

Tiana Mangakahia, Syracuse, Gr., G

Elizabeth Kitley, Virginia Tech, So., C

Aisha Sheppard, Virginia Tech, Sr., G

Ivana Raca, Wake Forest, Sr., F

Head Coaches Newcomer Watch List

Hailey Van Lith, Louisville, Fr., G

Kianna Smith, Louisville, Jr., G

Deja Kelly, North Carolina, Fr., G

Maddy Westbeld, Notre Dame, Fr., F

Kamilla Cardoso, Syracuse, Fr., C

Head Coaches Predicted Order of Finish

Louisville (13 first-place votes) - 223

NC State (2) - 210

Syracuse - 193

North Carolina - 157

Georgia Tech - 146

Notre Dame - 138

Virginia Tech - 125

Florida State - 124

Boston College - 120

Miami - 99

Duke - 74

Wake Forest - 73

Clemson - 56

Pittsburgh - 37

Virginia - 25

Blue Ribbon Panel Preseason All-ACC Team (57 voters)

Taylor Soule, Boston College, Jr., F (3)

Dana Evans, Louisville, Sr., G (40)

Janelle Bailey, North Carolina, Sr., C

Elissa Cunane, NC State, Jr., C (11)

Sam Brunelle, Notre Dame, So., F

Kiara Lewis, Syracuse, Sr., G

Tiana Mangakahia, Syracuse, Gr., G (3)

Elizabeth Kitley, Virginia Tech, So., C

Aisha Sheppard, Virginia Tech, Sr., G

Ivana Raca, Wake Forest, Sr., F

() Indicates preseason player of the year votes

Blue Ribbon Panel Newcomer Watch List

Tiana England, Florida State, Gr., G

Hailey Van Lith, Louisville, Fr., G

Deja Kelly, North Carolina, Fr., G

Maddy Westbeld, Notre Dame, Fr., F

Kamilla Cardoso, Syracuse, Fr., C

Blue Ribbon Panel Predicted Order of Finish (57 voters)

Louisville (45 first-place votes) – 840 points

NC State (10) – 797 points

Syracuse (2) – 724 points

Notre Dame – 555 points

North Carolina – 547 points

Florida State – 516 points

Virginia Tech – 482 points

Boston College – 468 points

Georgia Tech – 452 points

Duke – 385 points

Miami – 359 points

Wake Forest – 258 points

Clemson – 183 points

Virginia – 149 points

Pitt – 125 points

() Indicates first-place votes