ACC Tournament Betting Preview: Two Favorites and One Value Play in Greensboro
Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Moses Wright.
We've finally made it to the best time of the year, folks. Championship week is in full swing, and the ACC tournament begins Tuesday afternoon in Greensboro.
This year's bracket has an interesting look, one that no one would have predicted prior to the start of the season.
IT'S TOURNEY TIME.
— ACC Men's Basketball (@accmbb) March 7, 2021
Virginia is the top seed thanks to a wild final day of the regular season. Florida State entered Saturday in first place but relinquished that spot with a surprising loss at Notre Dame. The Cavaliers took care of business at Louisville later that afternoon to claim the regular-season crown.
Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech are the No. 3 and 4 seeds, earning the last two double byes. One of the biggest surprises of the season was Duke finishing 10th and having to play in the opening round on Tuesday.
Virginia has succeeded using the same formula that all Tony Bennett teams do. They frustrate the opposition with a tough half-court defense and a slow, efficient offense. Per KenPom, the Cavaliers rank 13th in adjusted offensive efficiency and 31st in adjusted defensive efficiency.
The Cavaliers have a pair of talented big men that can stretch the defense in Sam Hauser and Jay Huff. They also have a great distributor and floor general in Kihei Clark.
One thing Virginia lacks, however, is a guard that can consistently break down the defense and create his own shot. As a result, it suffers long scoring droughts too often and struggles to put teams away or make a big comeback if necessary.
The Cavaliers also match up poorly against Florida State, which has the length and depth to contain Hauser and Huff and is one of the few teams in the league that can hurt Virginia in transition.
Virginia a very tough potential semifinal game against a surging Georgia Tech squad. With two difficult potential matchups in the semifinals and finals, I don't see enough value in the current prices to back Virginia.
Photo Credit: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
The Seminoles have the lowest odds at FanDuel (+230) and the second lowest at DraftKings (+260). Head coach Leonard Hamilton's club is the most complete team in the league and in my opinion is the most likely winner of this tournament.
Like Virginia, the Noles are really good on both ends of the floor. Florida State ranks 10th in adjusted offensive efficiency and 46th in adjusted defensive efficiency. This is a very deep and balanced team, two traits that are key in winning single-elimination tournaments.
While I really like the Seminoles' chances, there's one thing that's holding me back on playing them. Florida State has struggled on the road this year, holding a 3-4 record away from the Donald L. Tucker Center. The Noles are an excellent outside-shooting team, ranking 15th nationally and second in the conference with a 38.5% rate from beyond the arc.
However, Florida State's home and away shooting splits are very concerning. Per Team Rankings, the Seminoles are 42.6% from beyond the arc at home compared to just 30.6% on the road. The Seminoles were just 6-of-24 from downtown against a poor Notre Dame defense in their loss on Saturday.
With the concern about their outside shooting away from home, I don't think odds below 3/1 are worth playing going into the conference tournament. If they can assuage my concerns in the quarter and semifinals, I will likely back the Seminoles on the championship-game spread, where they will be a small favorite.
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The Value Play
The most intriguing team coming into the tournament is the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Their NCAA at-large bid chances were on life support just a few weeks ago, but the Yellow Jackets have ripped off six straight wins and are now a virtual lock to make the big dance.
Georgia Tech was looking at a six or seven seed in this tournament not too long ago, but the winning streak propelled it to the No. 4 seed and a coveted double bye.
Georgia Tech's odds to win the ACC title are all over the place, so shopping for the best line on them is critical. The Yellow Jackets are +1000 at FanDuel but a juicy +2500 at DraftKings.
What makes Georgia Tech a title threat is the same thing that has fueled its current win streak: strong defense and good shooting. The Yellow Jackets struggled on the defensive end early on this season but have really turned things around and have bought in lately. On the season, Georgia Tech ranks a solid 56th in adjusted defensive efficiency.
The Yellow Jackets' big three of Jose Alvarado, Mike DeVoe and Moses Wright is as good as any trio in the conference. Alvarado (40.6% 3-point shooting) and DeVoe (38.8%) are having career shooting years, and both also thrive attacking the rim. Wright has exploded offensively this season and looks the part of an All-ACC First Team player. He's posting 18 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.7 blocks per game.
Georgia Tech has shown it can hang with the top dogs in the league. The Jackets beat Florida State at home and lost a pair of close contests to Virginia. With the confidence they're playing with right now, they have a great shot of taking down the Cavaliers in a potential semifinal matchup.
With a high price, all you need Georgia Tech to do is win two games to guarantee yourself a profit. If they make it to the finals, you can hedge your Georgia Tech ticket by playing the other team's moneyline and come out ahead either way.
I played the Yellow Jackets at +3000 in late February, but that price is long gone now. However, I still love them at DraftKings' current offering of +2500, and think they are worth a play at +2000 or better.