ACC Tournament Preview: Five Things Bettors Should Know

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© Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

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The 65th annual ACC tournament tips off at Barclays Center in Brooklyn today  (first game is at noon ET) and runs for five straight days through the Championship on Saturday, Mar. 10. All six teams you see on today’s schedule (No. 10-15 seeds) would have to win five games in five days to win the title. Speaking of ACC titles, Duke (20) and North Carolina (18) have amazingly combined to win 38 of the previous 64 championships.

Despite winning the ACC by four games with only one league loss (a one-point loss in overtime to VaTech) and being ranked No. 1 in both major polls, Virginia is not the betting favorite to win the ACC Tournament. That distinction belongs to the Duke Blue Devils, who lost their only meeting with UVA this year (in Cameron).

Now that you have some high level background, let’s look at five things every bettor should know ahead of this year’s ACC tournament.


1. The Simulation Says

By John Ewing

Back the Wahoos to cut down the nets at +218.

Virginia is listed as the second favorite behind Duke to win the tournament in Orlando. At +218 odds the implied probability of a title is 31.4%. After 10,000 simulations of the ACC tournament, Tony Bennett’s team cuts down the nets 43.0% of the time. UVA’s odds to win should be closer to +130 according to the simulations meaning bettors are getting value backing the nation’s top team.

2. Avoid ACC Tournament Long Shots

By Stuckey

Focus on the top six seeds for futures.

The lowest seed to ever win the ACC tournament was a No. 6 seed, which has happened five times since the event started in 1954. The last instance occurred in 2004 with Maryland. However, the Terps did so when the ACC only had nine total teams, which meant that only the No. 8 seed and No. 9 seed had to play an extra game.

Now, with 15 league teams, the tournament format is dramatically tilted in favor of the top four seeds, which each get a double bye into the quarterfinals.  NC State did reach the conference tournament final in 2007 as a No. 10 seed, but again, with an easier format. Notre Dame might look tempting at 29-1 as the No. 10 seed this year with Bonzi Colson back, but the Irish would need to win five games in five days to hang a banner.

I’d actually take my lead-in sentence and go a step further by only focusing on the top four seeds (Virginia +233, Duke +168, Clemson +1100, and Miami +1650). Considering Miami would presumable have to beat UNC, Duke and Virginia in three consecutive days, I’d scratch the Canes off the list. Since I don’t believe in Clemson (see next blurb), I think we see a chalky champ. I’ll go with Duke, given how well its zone is playing. I would love to get Duke with revenge in the title. The Blue Devils’ zone defense will be much more effective against UVA’s motion. Plus, the Wahoos have injury concerns with Kyle Guy.


3. Avoid Clemson Futures

By Jordan Majewski

The Wolf Pack are not an ideal opponent in the quarters.

I think Clemson will be the lone top four seed to not survive the quarterfinals on Thursday. Clemson’s last win away from home against a team with a winning record came at Boston College on Jan. 3 (a healthy Donte Grantham was still in the lineup at that time).

Plus, Clemson’s projected quarterfinal opponent No. 5 seed NC State is playing well with the exception of a blown second-half lead at Georgia Tech. The Pack would love to avenge a narrow home loss in the ACC opener to the Tigers (which Grantham played a major role in the ACC opener). Clemson’s press offense has been mediocre at best, which is problematic against NC State. Lastly, don’t forget that NC State head coach Kevin Keatts thrives in tournament scenarios on quick turnarounds.

4. Overvalued Top Seeds

By Evan Abrams

This trend points to fading Duke and Virginia ATS early.

The two top seeds in the ACC Tournament, Virginia and Duke, enter the Barclays Center in Brooklyn with a win percentage above 70%. Over the past decade, teams with a win percentage of 70% or higher facing teams with a win percentage below 70% in the ACC Tournament are 15-27-1 ATS (35.7%). Duke has been in this spot 16 of those 43 instances, compiling a 4-12 ATS (25%) record and failing to cover the spread by an average of 3.4 points.


5. Bold Bubble-Licious Predictions

By Jordan Majewski

Notre Dame gets in; Syracuse and Louisville do not.

  • Syracuse (RPI 36) should finally win its first ACC Tournament game against Wake Forest, but matchup nightmare UNC pops the Orange’s bubble in the second round. Theo Pinson shredded the Cuse zone at the high post at the Carrier Dome and the Orange just can’t keep UNC off the offensive glass.
  • Louisville (RPI 46) beats Florida State in the second round, giving them two wins over the Noles this year. FSU takes shots at the rim at the 32nd highest rate in the country, which plays right into the teeth of the Louisville defense. However, Louisville won’t exorcise its Virginia demons, falling short against the Cavs once again, which keeps the Cardinals out of the NCAA Tournament. 
  • Notre Dame (RPI 65) gets to the quarterfinals as a No. 10 seed, where it falls to Duke in a tight game. The Irish will look good enough in the process of beating Virginia Tech to make the NCAA tournament committee give them the benefit of the doubt in their games without Bonzie Colson.

Pictured in top photo: Duke guard Grayson Allen; credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports