The ACC has played its final regular season game and has crowned its regular season conference basketball champion. Now, all that remains is the ACC Championship Tournament which looks to have one of the deepest fields in recent memory and one of the deepest of the tournaments this year (Tuesday-Saturday).
Everything kicks off in Washington DC’s Verizon Center on Tuesday with the first round of games taking place as No. 12 North Carolina State takes on No. 13 Wake Forest and No. 11 Florida State takes on No. 14 Boston College. The tournament continues through Saturday in which a conference champion and automatic bid into the NCAA Men’s Championship tournament is awarded.
Before we get to this preview’s betting picks and predictions, let’s delve a little deeper into the teams vying for the conference’s highest honor at the ACC Championship Tournament. It appears between the four at the head of the USA sportsbooks’ betting lines for the ACC tournament futures market. BetOnline are one of the few bookies with odds up and this is how they bet:
- North Carolina +185; Virginia +220; Duke +425; Miami +450; Notre Dame +1400; Pittsburgh +1600; Clemson +2500; Syracuse +2500; Florida State +3300; Field +3300.
The Conference Champions: North Carolina +185
It should serve as no surprise that the outright regular season conference champions, the North Carolina Tar Heels, is favorite to win the ACC tournament as well. The Tar Heels haven’t won the big prize in eight years, what would be their 17th overall.
However, this very well could be the year. North Carolina emerged out of the tough ACC with a pretty solid resume posting a 25-6 regular season record with wins over the #2 team in the nation, Maryland, and #11 Miami. The Tar Heels ended the season by evening out their in-state rivalry with #17 Duke as well.
While the heading the betting lines and rightfully so, North Carolina does have its fair share of bad losses too. The team was unable to beat #3 Virginia in their only contest and lost to #19 Louisville as well. More notably however were the team’s losses to Northern Iowa and Texas earlier in the season.
It would seem as if North Carolina has righted the ship though. They ended the season with the big win over Duke, doing so in a bit of a decisive fashion. It was the team’s first road win against a ranked team since 2013 and it was the first time the team had beaten Duke in that same span.
Senior forward Brice Johnson has been the star, averaging a double-double (16.8 points, 10.8 rebounds). Marcus Paige, also a senior, adds another 12 per game as does sophomore Joel Berry. Overall, the team is pretty balanced, averaging the 10th most points in the NCAA, and most among teams in the Power 5 conferences. UNC is also top-30 in field goal percentage, top-10 in rebounds per game and top-5 in assists per game.
In short, UNC is a good team and one that should be a threat both in the ACC tournament and in the NCAA tournament to follow.
The Hottest Team in Basketball: Virginia +220
All season long, Virginia has been one of the top teams in the country. The talented team is led by senior Malcolm Brogdon (pictured) who has garnered praise from the likes of Dick Vitale as being one of the best and most complete players in the nation. He is currently averaging 18.6 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists and is a big part of the reason why the Cavaliers have 10 wins in their last 12 games.
Virginia is one of the hottest teams in the nation right now but the Cavaliers fell just short of winning the ACC regular season title which they last won in 2014. Once again it is defense that has been Virginia’s biggest strength as they have held the nation’s third best scoring defense, an impressive feat given the ACC as a whole was among the top scoring conferences this season.
With the coveted double bye, Virginia won’t be in action until Thursday, March 10. At this point they will face the winner of the No. 7 Clemson vs No. 10 Georgia Tech game. Where it gets interesting here is the matchup. Virginia defeated Clemson in both of their matchups however they dropped the game against Georgia Tech at a part of the season when they had back-to-back losses and three in a four game span.
The Perennial Favorites: Duke +425
Duke may have missed out of the double bye but the Blue Devils have won 19 ACC championship tournament titles and for that reason alone, they cannot be counted out.
The Blue Devils struggled in mid-January, dropping four of five including three in a row for the first time in a few years. Ordinarily the class of the ACC, Duke had its struggles this year; however they did manage to reel off an impressive string of victories against #13 Louisville, #7 Virginia and #5 North Carolina. Duke hit the pinnacle at that point in the season and while they have lost three of the last five since, showed the potential to be the team of old, the team that should be favored in a conference championship.
Again, Duke is a freshmen-laden team and in the past this has affected them when it comes to the one and done format of the conference and NCAA tournaments. This year, that inexperience has shown itself in spurts and has seen Duke lose some close and uncharacteristic contests.
But if the Duke of old that pulled off that impressive winning streak in February can rely on its program’s postseason experience despite the players not having any, there’s a good chance this team goes all the way to the end. After all, they have the wisdom and experience of Coach K, who has been at the helm for most of Duke’s 19 titles. If ever there was a coach who could bring that out in his players, its Krzyzewski.
The Wild-Card: Miami +450
This has been an incredible year for the Hurricanes who find themselves competitive in the ACC for the first time in a while. The second youngest ACC team, Miami has just one title, back from 2012. While they have had some pretty good teams over the past four years, this squad, under Jim Larranaga, the ACC’s Coach of the Year, looks like a real threat once again.
Big wins over Virginia, Louisville and Duke are the focal points of Miami’s season. The team finished third in the ACC, good enough for a first round bye.
Ultimately, if they rely on that early resume and play as well as they did as when they defeated those powerhouses, the Hurricanes could surprise in the tournament. They are at full health and have all of the pieces in place. As they have shown, they can beat the top teams, they just can’t play as sloppily as they did in their regular season finale against Virginia Tech.
ACC Championship Tournament Betting Picks Predictions
Examining the betting lines and the resumes, it comes down to these four and with good reason. Each of them have big wins over the others but each also have some head-scratching losses. It really is a level playing field.
That said, take Virginia to emerge on top, likely playing Duke in the finals. The team offers the most balance and the most consistency. Not to mention, they have played the best basketball of any team in the nation as of late and look poised to continue this stretch riding the momentum all the way to the ACC championship.
- Our preview’s betting pick is a wager on Virginia to win the ACC Tournament @ +220 betting odds with BetOnline Sportsbook.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.