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Expectations are high for Syracuse women’s basketball in ACC preseason poll

There is a lot of buzz surrounding the upcoming Syracuse women’s basketball season and for good measure. On Tuesday the Atlantic Coast Conference announced the ACC Coaches’ and Blue Ribbon Panel Preseason Polls and the Orange are expected to finish third in the conference according to both polls. Additionally, seniors Kiara Lewis and Tiana Mangakahia were recognized on the Preseason All-ACC Team while freshman Kamilla Cardoso is one of five newcomers on the Newcomer Watch List.

The ACC’s 15 head coaches predict Louisville to finish at the top of the league standings this season as the Cardinals received 13 of the 15 available first-place votes. NC State, the 2020 ACC Tournament Champion, earned the second spot with two first-place votes while the Orange are expected to finish third.

The Blue Ribbon Panel also selected Louisville as the top team in the ACC with NC State receiving 10 first-place votes for second and the Orange with two, for third. Additionally, Louisville’s Dana Evans was selected as the Preseason Player of the Year by both the coaches and media.

Lewis led the Orange in scoring last season with 17.3 points per game. She shot an impressive 40 percent from the field and added 3.8 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.7 steals per game. Lewis averaged 37.2 minutes per game as Syracuse’s starting point guard and was named All-ACC First Team and All-ECAC Second Team in 2019-20.

Mangakahia was sidelined for the 2019-20 season while battling Stage 2 breast cancer and has been granted an Extension of Eligibility waiver by the NCAA for the upcoming season. In two seasons with the Orange, Mangakahia became the fastest player in program history to score 1,000 career points and is the all-time leader in assists with 591. A two-time All-ACC First Team honoree and a 2019 WBCA All-America Honorable Mention selection, Mangakahia was named to the Nancy Lieberman Award Watch List on Monday marking the third time in her Syracuse career she’s been a candidate for the nation’s top point guard award.