State of the ACC College Basketball Betting Report: Can Notre Dame Stun Duke?
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images. Pictured: Prentiss Hubb & Blake Wesley (Notre Dame)
Stop me when you’ve heard this before: Duke is the clear front runner of a lacking ACC as we near the end of the season.
Sound repetitive? That’s because that has been the case this whole season.
As of writing, the ACC has only five at-large bids in Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology. The sad reality is it will probably be less. That’s how awful the conference has been.
After Duke, the remaining teams fighting for a spot in the tournament consist of Notre Dame, North Carolina, Wake Forest and Miami (FL). No team is currently expected to be higher than a nine seed — other than Duke, which is sitting firmly at a No. 2 seed.
Time is running out for those trying to improve their seeding or cement their spot in the tournament, which makes the end of the season more critical for the ACC than other major conferences.
Will any team be able to sustain a win streak and improve its resume? Or will the league continue to cannibalize itself as Duke runs away with it?
Another State of the Conference report, and another time in which Duke sits at the top of the market.
While the Blue Devils are only one win ahead of second-place Notre Dame in the standings, oddsmakers agree that this is Duke’s conference to lose.
The Blue Devils have Virginia, Syracuse, Pittsburgh and UNC to finish out the season. They have been the lone ACC powerhouse, and fit as one of the 11 teams in Stuckey’s article breaking down those that have a real shot at cutting down the nets in April.
Duke has been well-balanced for most of the season, with a few lapses of laziness on defense as of late. Could it be tired legs, or a blimp in motivation?
Maybe both, but the struggles defending the 3 have been alarming.
The offense has been consistent all season, though, as it looks to run-and-gun and hit shooters in transition.
Paolo Banchero has been the leader of this team, averaging 16.9 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game.
If Duke can fix its half-court offensive woes, then it will be poised for a deep NCAA Tournament run come March.
Notre Dame will need to play near-perfect for the remainder of the season, as it’s one game back of Duke.
If Notre Dame didn’t have one of its worst shooting nights when playing Duke at home, then this report could be completely different.
Alas, we have to work with the results that happened and not the results we wish happened.
Notre Dame has a cupcake schedule to end its season, with matchups against Syracuse, Georgia Tech, Florida State and Pittsburgh.
The Irish pose as one of the dark horses to win the ACC Tournament thanks to a style of play that can give Duke fits. Notre Dame plays at a snail’s pace, forcing teams into half-court sets, which is what Duke wants to avoid.
The Notre Dame offense has improved since the last report, jumping from 72nd in AdjO to 52nd. The Irish will need to avoid cold shooting nights if they want to keep scoring pace against the likes of Miami (FL), Wake Forest, Duke and UNC.
Hopefully We’ll See You in March
A month or so ago, the public was talking about Miami as a potential ACC-leading darling after its upsets over historic powerhouses in Duke and UNC.
Too bad Miami was never able to consistently use that magic to its advantage, as it has gone 5-4 since its dominate win over UNC.
Miami owns one of the best offenses in the nation, as the unit has led the team to wins while the defense has struggled to stop a nosebleed (156th in AdjD).
When Miami’s offense goes cold, the team goes south and fast.
The Canes need to find consistency on offense, too. They are led by Kameron McGusty, Isaiah Wong and Charlie Moore, who all comfortably average double digits and give opposing defenses nightmares.
While the defense has looked like a lost cause, stranger things have happened in a tournament format. If Miami can once again find magic and go on a hot shooting run, then it will be a tough out.
As a North Carolina fan, my resting heart rate hasn’t been below 120 bpm’s since the last installment of this report.
Since Feb. 8, North Carolina barely squeaked a win out against Clemson at the buzzer, dominated Florida State in an offensive showcase, embarrassingly lost to Pittsburgh and comfortably beat a sneaky Virginia Tech team.
The Heels are the same product as Miami, but with more depth. When the offense is on and the shots fall, UNC is one of the better teams in the conference. When they don’t, they can lose to anyone because the Tar Heels receive no help from their defense.
One difference and advantage UNC does have over its counterpart in Miami is rebounding. UNC has built an identity with an emphasis on crashing the boards, as it generates second-chance points and starts fast breaks while limiting opponents’ possessions.
If UNC can find its identity and show some consistency come ACC Tournament play, it will be a tough out.
Last installment, I had Wake Forest as a future add. The Demon Deacons were oh so close to making this so much more interesting, as they lost to Duke on a put-back dunk at the buzzer.
Still, KenPom has the Demon Deacons slotted as the second-best team in the ACC, per AdjEM, and I fully agree. They are as balanced as you can get — ranking 45th in AdjO and 44th in AdjD — and have one of the best players in the ACC in guard Alondes Williams.
Williams has all the makings to take over and lead Wake Forest on a run, as he’s leading the conference in scoring at 19.9 points, is hauling in 6.9 rebounds and is dishing out 5.1 assists a night.
He is a matchup problem and commands opposing defenses’ attentions, opening up opportunities for teammates, Jake LaRavia and Daivien Williamson.
After showing it can keep pace with Duke, I will be looking to add Wake Forest to my portfolio come tournament time — pending on the number at open.
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