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Cunane, No. 5 NC State headline preseason ACC picks

October 20, 2021 GMT
North Carolina State center Elissa Cunane laughs during NCAA college basketball Atlantic Coast Conference media day, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Matt Kelley)
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North Carolina State center Elissa Cunane laughs during NCAA college basketball Atlantic Coast Conference media day, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Matt Kelley)
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North Carolina State center Elissa Cunane laughs during NCAA college basketball Atlantic Coast Conference media day, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Matt Kelley)

GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — Fifth-ranked North Carolina State will open the season as the Atlantic Coast Conference favorite, while senior center Elissa Cunane is the preseason player of the year.

The ACC on Wednesday released results in voting by the league’s 15 head coaches and its Blue Ribbon Panel that includes broadcasters and media members while factoring in the coaches’ selections.

Wes Moore’s Wolfpack topped both polls comfortably ahead of No. 6 Louisville, marking the first time the program will open the season as the favorite since the league began its women’s basketball rankings before the 1991-92 season.

The two votes mirrored one another on the top 11 picks in the 15-team league, with No. 17 Georgia Tech picked third, followed by No. 24 Virginia Tech and No. 16 Florida State at the top with experienced rosters.

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Notre Dame was picked sixth, followed by North Carolina, Duke, Miami, Clemson and Boston College in both polls. The Blue Ribbon Panel had Wake Forest 12th, followed by Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Virginia, while the coaches flip-flopped the Demon Deacons and Orange.

The 6-foot-5 Cunane was a second-team All-American pick for The Associated Press last year after averaging 16.3 points and 8.3 rebounds. She helped the Wolfpack win a second straight ACC Tournament title and earn the program’s first No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Picked as player of the year in both votes, Cunane is the headliner for a team that returns its top eight scorers while adding sophomore transfers Diamond Johnson from Rutgers and Madison Hayes from Mississippi State.

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More AP women’s basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25