2019 ACC Tournament Betting Odds, Preview: Who Can Spoil Top-Heavy Bracket?
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Virginia’s De’Andre Hunter
- The 15-team ACC conference tournament will begin on Monday at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, N.C. with three first-round games between the bottom six seeds.
- Defending champion Virginia (+120) enters as the tourney favorite and will avoid either Duke (+185) or North Carolina (+360) until the championship on Saturday.
- Along with evaluating the futures market, we will look at a potential first round underdog worth backing on Tuesday.
The ACC features three of the top four teams in the AP Poll. They also have five teams ranked inside the top 15. At the top, they are the strongest basketball conference in America, especially when Duke has a healthy Zion Williamson.
Duke and North Carolina have combined for 38 of the 65 championships in what has historically been a very chalky tournament. No team seeded below No. 6 has ever won the title — and it became an even taller order for the lower seeds once the tournament expanded, giving the top four seeds a double-bye.
Let’s take a closer look at the field to determine the most likely winner, where the future value lies, my pick to win and a first-round bet to target.
2019 ACC Tournament Odds, Format
- Who: All 15 ACC teams
- Format: Top 9 seeds receive a bye; top 4 a double-bye
- When: March 12-16
- Where: Charlotte, N.C.
- How to Watch: ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ACCN
- Defending Champion: Virginia
Opening Round Bet
Wake Forest +7 over Miami
The Demon Deacons have played very well in their last two games, losing at Duke 71-70 and at home 65-57 to Florida State. They will face a Miami team that is winless (0-9) on the road in ACC play. Wake Forest only has four wins in conference but defeated the Hurricanes 76-75 on Feb. 26.
The Demon Decans excel on the offensive glass, ranking second in offensive rebounding percentage in conference play. They outrebounded Miami 41-34 in their last matchup and it’s safe to assume they will do so once again in Charlotte.
Sophomore guard Chaundee Brown (11.9 ppg) has also really started to come on, averaging 17 points and 9.8 rebounds over his past four games.
I don’t see seven points between these two teams that split during the regular season. This line is just too high to pass up in this first round matchup.
Most Likely Champion
It has to be defending champion Virginia, as the odds indicate. The Cavaliers secured the top overall seed for the 2019 ACC Tournament, which means they sit on the opposite side of the bracket from both Duke (the only team to beat UVA this season) and North Carolina.
The Cavaliers’ half-court defense is once again one of the best in the country, but the Hoos made a concerted effort to improve their offense this season. They rank second overall in adjusted offensive efficiency while shooting an incredible 41.4% as a team from 3. Within ACC play, head coach Tony Bennett’s team was superior on offense, ranking best in effective field goal percentage and 3P%.
It is difficult to see Virginia losing to either a short-handed Virginia Tech team or a Florida State team it destroyed on Jan. 5. Playing in the top half provides the Cavaliers an easy path to the ACC finals on Saturday.
You can remove the bottom six seeds that play on Day 1 from consideration. None of those teams are good enough and they aren’t winning four games in four days. I also don’t see any value in the three titans seeded 1-3.
I would focus in on the mid-tier teams if you are looking to bet a future in the ACC Tournament.
Florida State has won 11 of 12, but went 0-3 against the three titans this year. It did lose at home to Duke at the buzzer, though. Virginia Tech would be intriguing with point guard Justin Robinson, but it looks like he’ll be out — and the Hokies lack depth without him, making it tough in a conference tournament setting.
Meanwhile, Clemson just can’t seem to get over the hump against the elite teams in the ACC, so asking the Tigers to do that three times seems like a tough ask, and that’s if they even get by NC State.
Louisville at 35-1 is interesting, especially after their valiant performance against the Cavaliers this past weekend. The Cardinals led 62-61 with five minutes left in Charlottesville. Head coach Chris Mack’s team also defeated North Carolina 83-62 in Chapel Hill on Jan. 12. However, their well-documented late-game struggles provide little confidence for a four game run in four days.
I personally think Syracuse provides the most value at 80-1. The Orange should win their first-round matchup against either Boston College or Pittsburgh, which would set up a third meeting with Duke. This will likely be Zion Williamson’s first game back from injury which will limit his normal efficiency. In addition, Duke has struggled mightily from 3P range, ranking 330th in the country at only 30.6%, which could be a problem against Cuse’s zone.
Yes, the Blue Devils beat Syracuse without Zion at the Carrier Dome, but they had a very lucky shooting night. I wouldn’t count on that type of shooting performance again.
Syracuse in a tournament setting is always tough, and the Orange are one of the few teams that won’t be intimidated by Duke. If a team outside the big three is going to make a run, Syracuse presents as the most likely candidate — and at a very generous price.
My Pick to Win
North Carolina +360
UNC is playing its best basketball of the season. The Tar Heels have won seven straight games, and 14 of their last 15. Freshman guard Coby White (16.3 ppg) has been sensational, averaging 23.5 points and shooting 45.9% (17 of 47) from beyond the arc over his last four games. Along with Cameron Johnson (16.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg) and Luke Maye (14.6 ppg, 10.5 rpg), the Tar Heels have a scoring trio that can match any in the country — even the Blue Devils at full strength.
Much is made of the narrative that Roy Williams doesn’t focus on the ACC Tournament, which all stems from a 2008 quote where he pretty much said so himself. However, it simply is not true. UNC has played in six of the past eight ACC finals, securing a championship over Virginia in 2016.
The Tar Heels have a top 10 offense and defense in terms of adjusted efficiency. They also rank first in the country with an average of 43.4 rebounds per game.
The Tar Heels have defeated Duke twice (albeit without Zion Williamson) and lost a close game to Virginia. Their combination of scoring, rebounding, coaching and momentum make North Carolina my pick to become the ACC champion in 2019.