The pinnacle of the college basketball season is just on the horizon as all around the country, fans are preparing for the NCAA Division I Men’s College basketball tournament aka March Madness.
Before the madness, teams in 30+ conferences will take part in conference championships to help determine what the field of 68 will ultimately look like. This year, every conference will have a tournament and one of the biggest ones that fans should have their eyes on is that of the powerhouse ACC (March 7-11).
One of the best conferences in college basketball year in and year out, the ACC boasts a handful of top teams including 1st seeded North Carolina, who are looking to return to the NCAA tournament following last year’s second place finish. According to several in-the-know basketball reporters, the ACC could send as many as 10 of their total 15 teams to the Big Dance, which would best last year’s showing of seven.
Many will recall as well that the ACC broke a tournament record in 2016 by sending six of those seven teams to the Sweet Sixteen and tied a record with four in the Elite Eight. The ACC won 20 games in the tournament last year and earned almost $40 million from TV revenue, both records. Simply put, last year was the best NCAA tournament any one conference ever had and believe it or not, but in 2017, the ACC can do even better.
Breaking Down the Bracket
North Carolina, Florida State, Notre Dame and Louisville enter the ACC tournament as the top four seeds respectively, each earning a double bye as a result. We won’t see any of those teams until the quarterfinals on March 9.
Receiving single byes are Duke, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Syracuse and Miami, all of which will be in action starting in the second round beginning on March 8.
Three of those teams rank in the top-15 of the country according to the AP Top 25 with North Carolina sitting as the fifth best team. The Tar Heels are coming off another top year which they capped by winning the ACC regular season outright title by beating in-state rival Duke on Saturday night. Prior to the start of the season it was the Blue Devils who were predicted to go all the way in the conference.
MyBookie Sportsbook is one of the only American-facing sports betting websites to have published its ACC conference tournament odds at the time of writing this preview. They are not giving much away with their odds but unsurprisingly North Carolina enters as +140 favorites. Louisville follows closely behind with +250 and then Duke at +330. Florida State at +550 and Virginia at +700 round out the top five.
Our Preview’s ACC Conference Tournament Betting Predictions & Picks
The depth of the ACC makes for an exciting few days of basketball, ones that will likely be a preview of what we’ll see in just a few weeks when it comes time for March Madness. The ACC has every ability to dominate again like it did last year and that all begins this Tuesday.
This is an absolutely stacked field with several teams which are deserving of winning the championship. It’s hard to pick against North Carolina given they are without any real glaring weakness and have ridden a late season surge to be projected as a number one seed in the national tournament. Their offense is ranked the fourth best in efficiency and defensively, they rank 23rd. Not to mention, the Tar Heels were undefeated at home this year and are the defending ACC tournament champions.
There’s honestly no reason to pick against the favorites. They boast four players who average in double digits including Joel Berry, who was the hero on Saturday and who has been absolutely lethal beyond the arc this year, shooting at a clip of 42.6 percent.
But, Florida State, the second seed, very well could be a threat to North Carolina’s repeat bid. They have a lot of potential which has shown at times this year and are led by Dwayne Bacon (pictured), who is a candidate for ACC Player of the Year. Florida State has the ability to play to UNC’s level, however they have been cold as of late and relatively inconsistent as well. They will need more than that to beat a top team like North Carolina.
Perhaps the biggest threat to the Tar Heels could be Notre Dame, the third seed. The Fighting Irish dropped their regular season finale against Louisville but prior to that they had won six in a row. Another ACC Player of the Year candidate leads Notre Dame in Bonzie Colson, who averages 17 points per game, 10.4 rebounds and is shooting 52.3 percent from the field. He has been a leader on this team and has consistently produced good numbers on the stat sheet. Then there’s Louisville, a team that has won eight of their last 11.
Simply put, this will be no easy task for North Carolina. However, that doesn’t mean they won’t win it in what could be the most important tune-up to the national tournament.
- So our preview’s betting prediction and pick is to take the Tar Heels (+140 with MyBookie) to get it done again in 2017 en route to another deep run in the national championship tournament.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & 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.