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Virginia men's basketball team predicted to finish No. 11 in the ACC

It was quite an entertaining day at the Virginia table at the ACC men's basketball media day. Senior guard Mustapha Farrakhan gave his best Tony Montana impression from the movie "Scarface." Senior forward Mike Scott delivered an impersonation of Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1996 flick "Jingle All the Way." Scott also promised not to shave his beard until it was as full grown as the one sported by N.C. State forward Tracy Smith.

Coach Tony Bennett seemed pretty relaxed, as well. When it came time for him to speak to the print media, the preseason ACC men's basketball poll had not yet been released, though Bennett still faced a few questions about the low outside expectations of his squad in his second year at the helm in Charlottesville.

"I don't even know where we were picked, to be honest with you," Bennett said.

When he was informed the preseason picks hadn't yet been released, Bennett grinned.

"You're saying we're not picked first?" he said. "You don't think so?"

Um, no. Members of the media picked Virginia -- which went 5-11 in conference play last season and is ushering in a six-man freshman class -- to finish No. 11 in the ACC this season. Only Wake Forest was predicted to perform worse. Duke was predicted to win the conference crown, taking in all but one first-place votes. Virginia Tech was picked to finish second, and Maryland was picked to finish sixth.

Bennett understands why his team was slotted where it was on the preseason conference totem pole, and he doesn't necessarily mind the Cavaliers predominantly playing the underdog role this season.

"At the phase, we certainly have goals; we want to play well," Bennett said. "But with our youth and inexperience, it would be foolish for me to say I expect us to win 'X' amount of games and finish in this place. Certainly, there's things that I'm thinking about, but there are so many unknowns now with (redshirt junior guard) Sammy (Zeglinski) being out and how this team will shake out, I just want us to get better as the year progresses and put us in a spot to be in a good place.

"As the years progress, certainly we'll have to, and I'm not saying this year we can't deliver, but I just want us to be playing team ball, good ball ... I think there's some pieces here. I think there's some potential in this group. Can the young players handle the rigors? And if they can and if we have some stability from our returners, I think there's a chance for us to be very solid. But that's a big if. We'll have to see."

For those of you who are interested, here is the full predicted order of finish in the ACC (62 ballots):

1) Duke (61) 743
2) Virginia Tech 632
3) North Carolina (1) 622
4) N.C. State 526
5) Florida State 496
6) Maryland 432
7) Clemson 335
8) Miami 305
9) Georgia Tech 274
10) Boston College 173
11) Virginia 164
12) Wake Forest 134

Here's the preseason all-conference team:

Kyle Singler, Duke (62)
Malcolm Delaney, Virginia Tech (61)
Nolan Smith, Duke (55)
Tracy Smith, N.C. State (45)
Chris Singleton, Florida State (29)

The pick for preseason ACC player of the year was Duke's Kyle Singler, and North Carolina's Harrison Barnes was selected as the preseason ACC rookie of the year.

By Steve Yanda  | October 20, 2010; 4:40 PM ET
Categories:  Men's Basketball  
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