Thursday ACC Tournament Odds, Picks: How to Bet BC vs. Miami, Va. Tech vs. Notre Dame, UVA vs. UNC
Grant Halverson/Getty Images. Pictured: R.J. Davis of the North Carolina Tar Heels.
In the evening session, Virginia Tech collapsed with eight missed free throws in the second half and overtime against Clemson. The Tigers rallied from down double digits in the second half to force overtime and took a lead by two in the final six seconds, but Virginia Tech sophomore Darius Maddox hit a pull-up 3 from the wing as time expired to save the Hokies season and eliminate the Tigers.
Here’s a look at each of the four ACC quarterfinals scheduled for Thursday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Duke vs. Syracuse
- Duke -14.5
- Total: 148.5
- 12 p.m. ET, ESPN
Syracuse’s offense erupted for 49 points on 1.34 points per possession in the first half against Florida State on Wednesday. The Seminoles left open shooters and the Orange punished them from the perimeter.
The matchup with Duke is a significantly tougher one, though. In his postgame presser, head coach Jim Boeheim was honest about his team’s difficult test on Thursday
“They’ve handled us both times with no problem, we weren’t in either game,” Boeheim said. “They’re a difficult matchup, really difficult matchup for us and our zone. We’re going to have to play better offensively to be in the game.”
Syracuse has a history of performing really well in the NCAA Tournament and March in general, but that hasn’t really held up in the ACC tournament since SU joined the conference in 2013-14.
If you were building a team to tear apart a 2-3 zone, it would look quite a bit like the Blue Devils. A couple of elite jump shooters with Wendell Green and AJ Griffin — both shoot over 40% from beyond the arc. Paolo Banchero is a zone buster in the high post or at the free throw line and Syracuse’s isn’t good enough at preventing the ball from getting to him.
And once the ball does get into Banchero, he can either take it himself, throw a lob to Mark Williams on the low block, or kick it out to shooters. This is not at all a traditional Syracuse zone that forces turnovers, deflects passes and contests shots. The Orange are 203rd in KenPom defensive efficiency.
Duke should have no problem putting up offense itself, given the Orange have no real rim protection or defense from the perimeter.
Syracuse’s chances of an upset took a huge hit on Wednesday night when the ACC announced it was suspending Buddy Boeheim one game for his punch to the stomach of Florida State’s Wyatt Wilkes in the first half of that game.
The Syracuse offense had issues in both games against the Blue Devils when they had Buddy on the floor. He’s the ACC’s leading scorer and Orange’s best shot-getter. The Orange already have one of the thinnest benches in the entire country and now have just two available scholarship guards and two available scholarship forwards with Jimmy Boeheim and Cole Swider.
I would have looked to the over with Buddy in the lineup because the Blue Devils perimeter defense has some holes and some regression coming. But it’s hard to see the Orange staying anywhere near normal offensive efficiency and staying close with Duke.
Verdict: Duke or pass
Boston College vs. Miami
- Miami -7.5
- Total: 137.5
- 2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Boston College pulled off the upset of Wednesday in a win against Wake Forest in overtime. Now they have to play their third game in three days after beating Pittsburgh on Tuesday. The Eagles don’t have a particularly deep bench and played a very physical game, plus an extra five minutes and fatigue has to be factored in now.
The Eagles rank 280th in bench minutes and only played seven guys, five of them played more than 30 minutes. The turnaround is less than 24 hours and the matchup is also considerably less favorable given how potent the Miami offense is. Credit the Eagles for the fight on Wednesday to overcome a 10-point deficit in the final six minutes of the game. But the loss was more a matter of Wake Forest’s best players being flat, missing free throws.
These two teams had one regular season meeting, on March 2. Miami won at Boston College by grabbing an early lead and coasting through to the finish. The Hurricanes only trailed 2-0 and built a lead as big as 19 points in the second half. From a matchup perspective, Boston College is one of the worst perimeter offenses and defenses in the entire conference.
The Eagles concede a ton of wide open looks from the perimeter — a major issue when Miami has made 37.3% of 3s in the league this season. Boston College isn’t the team that’s going to punish the Hurricanes subpar perimeter defense. The Eagles rank 346th in 3-point ShotQuality and rank 10th in the conference in turnover.
Miami should be able to expose the Eagles in transition after forcing some turnovers and while the Hurricanes are vulnerable inside defensively and don’t guard the rim well, BC won’t get enough stops against Kam McGusty and Isaiah Wong to stay in the game.
The number is about right for me at 7.5, but given the significant perimeter edge for Miami and the rest edge, I’d lean toward the Hurricanes. Don’t get caught up in the excellent BC story.
Virginia Tech vs. Notre Dame
- ND -1.5
- Total: 131.5
- 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
Unlike most of the matchups on Thursday that are recent rematches, Virginia Tech and Notre Dame haven’t played since Jan. 15. In that game, the Hokies and Fighting Irish both shot the ball at an elite rate from beyond the arc. VT made 10-of-20 from deep and Notre Dame made 8-of-20.
The Hokies are first in the conference in 3-point attempt rate with 43.6% of their attempted shots coming from deep. Notre Dame ranks third. Just because we have two elite offenses and two great jump shooting teams, doesn’t mean there will be a ton of points though. Notre Dame ranks 12th out of 15 in adjusted tempo in the conference and Virginia Tech is 14th.
This game will be a grind in the halfcourt, and the winner of this game will likely come down to which can better score from the perimeter. The Hokies rank fourth defensively in the ACC at guarding catch-and-shoot 3s, a staple of the motion Notre Dame offense, per ShotQuality. Virginia Tech does a great job of forcing opponents to take difficult 3s and sacrifices post defense because of its lack of interior size.
That’s also a strength of the Notre Dame defense, which ranks second in the conference in 3-point field goal percentage allowed, so that’s where this game is likely to be decided.
In a matchup of two very similar teams, the Hokies have enough of an edge on the interior with Justyn Mutts and Keve Aluma doing a better job of protecting the rim than Notre Dame does. While it’s a wash on the perimeter and shooting variance is sure to play a big role in deciding this, VT’s edge on the interior is enough for me to bet on them at even money.
Verdict: Virginia Tech ML
Virginia vs. North Carolina
- UNC -4.5
- Total: 133.5
- 9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Virginia survived an ugly performance in its ACC opener against Louisville, outlasting the Cardinals in a 51-50 game that head coach Tony Bennett called a “knuckle-buster” after the game. The Cavaliers need to win at least one more game to have a chance at an at-large, and may even need to win two more games and reach the ACC final to get a tourney bid.
North Carolina had arguably the most impactful win of the NCAA season on Saturday at Duke in Mike Krzyzewski’s final home game at Cameron Indoor and now could be in a potential flat spot on Wednesday night. The Tar Heels are safely into the NCAA Tournament field now.
UNC comfortably won the only meeting between the two teams in Chapel Hill, but that game was in early January. Bennett has had a lot of success in the past against North Carolina because of his ability to control pace, slow down UNC and keep them off of the offensive glass.
Carolina is a bit different this season in year one under Hubert Davis in that they’re running and crashing the boards less. This UNC offense has been inconsistent for most of the season but relies more on perimeter shooting. Virginia’s pack-line defense can be had from the perimeter.
Even if Virginia is able to control pace and make Carolina play in the halfcourt, the Hoos rank outside the top 100 in guarding catch and shoot and off the dribble 3s. If UNC is able to make jumpers and force UVA to extend, it’ll open up room for Armando Bacot in the middle.
The main matchup concern is for the Cavaliers trying to score on Carolina, though. UNC’s defense on the perimeter has been shaky all season, but Virginia’s offense is very inconsistent from the perimeter. They didn’t make a single 3 in the win against Louisville and while ShotQuality suggests positive regression is coming, a cold shooting night would doom this offense.
If the market gets above four I’d fire on Virginia, but the matchup concern with UNC’s edge at both ends of the floor on the perimeter keeps me off of the Cavaliers at the current 3.5 number.
Verdict: Virginia +4 or better, no play at +3.5