Wilson’s 2019 ACC Betting Guide: The Right Price on Clemson, A Sleeping Giant and More
Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Justyn Ross
The ACC in 2019: Clemson and 13 others. The gap has widened between Clemson and the rest of the ACC so much the Tigers would be 21-point favorites against any other ACC team at a neutral site.
There are plenty of questions for the ACC in 2019. Will Clemson run the table after losing an all-time great defense? Who in the Coastal will try to dash Clemson’s hopes in the ACC Championship Game? Can Florida State and Louisville find identities?
This article will look at my projected ACC win totals and conference odds against what books have posted as we search for value. We also look at the inflated Clemson conference odds for value, along with key scheduling spots for wagering.
ACC Coastal Notes
Miami had almost as many coaching changes in the offseason as points scored in the Pinstripe Bowl. Manny Diaz moved from Miami defensive coordinator, to head coach at Temple and back to Miami as the head coach.
Diaz hired Dan Enos from Alabama to be the offensive coordinator, and he has his work cutout for him with N’Kosi Perry and Tate Martell at quarterback behind an offensive line that lost 75 career starts.
The Hurricanes will continue to be a top 15 defense, but its the offense that will decide a division race. Miami will host contenders Virginia and Virginia Tech in Hard Rock Stadium.
The Bryce Perkins show continues for UVA. The schedule does not include Clemson, but the Cavaliers play just one home game between Sept. 22 and Nov. 8. A bye week before Miami and hosting Florida State on extra rest will help, but at least four conference games are projected coin flips.
The Hokies are No. 1 in defensive returning production, and the ACC schedule will make it easy enough for them to contend. The road slate is a mixture of rebuilding teams (Boston College, Georgia Tech) and extra rest (Miami). Virginia Tech ends the season against rival Virginia, which has not beaten the Hokies since 2003. Bud Foster’s defense returns plenty in every unit, but must trim an IsoPPP rank of 125th.
Is there a path for Pittsburgh to return to the ACC Championship Game? Consider the Panthers schedule calls for seven consecutive ACC games starting Oct. 5. In that time, Pittsburgh has two bye weeks and games against Miami and Virginia Tech on extra rest. Do not overlook the hiring of former UMass head coach Mark Whipple as offensive coordinator. The Minutemen consistently fielded explosive offenses over the past few years.
Miami and Diaz against Mack Brown is must watch football in Week 2. North Carolina has an offensive returning production rank of 15th with a 2018 IsoPPP rating of 19th. If anyone knows explosive offenses, its new offensive coordinator Phil Longo, who comes from Ole Miss. The Rebels were No. 7 in offensive IsoPPP and 10th in success rate in 2018. Army defensive coordinator Jay Bateman moves into the same role at North Carolina.
Geoff Collins takes on a complete rebuild from a roster and schematic standpoint at Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets are 119th in returning production and leave the Paul Johnson triple option behind. Collins focus, other than ‘capped, covered, chunks’ hash browns, is building a culture and recruiting, not competing for a divisional title .
— Coach Collins🏆🏆🏆🏆 (@CoachCollins) December 8, 2018
ACC Atlantic Notes
How does a handicapper nitpick a Clemson team that is -700 to win the conference? The defense is 100th in returning production, the special teams ranked 95th in S&P+, and the linebacker unit was 114th in havoc last season. That is the closest you can get to saying anything negative about the reigning defending national champions.
The Texas A&M game is considered the biggest obstacle on the road to the College Football Playoff, and Trevor Lawrence will be looking for redemption.
We have been bullish on Florida State in the offseason, even kicking off Week 1 picks on the Action Network App with a play against Boise State. Kendall Briles has been brilliant in his multiple stops as offensive coordinator and should do the same in Tallahassee.
The Seminoles offense was plagued with terrible offensive line play and bottom 10 ranks on third down, leading to an average defensive starting field position rank of 130th. Briles will look for a quarterback that can bring some efficiency to an offense that was 11th in big plays in 2018.
Syracuse has been the team on the rise over the past few seasons, but roster turnover leaves the Orange ranking 90th in offensive returning production. Quarterback Tommy DeVito had a poor 50% completion rate through 87 attempts in 2018, with an even worse sack rate of 11.2%. The Orange are still competitive, but will not be as potent as years past. Syracuse does return every player from a special teams unit that ranked No. 2 in S&P+ in 2018.
The window may have passed for North Carolina State to contend. A rank of 129th in offensive returning production is highlighted by the graduation of Ryan Finley. From the skill positions to the lineman, there isn’t much left of the Wolfpack from 2018’s offense that was 20th in success rate. East Carolina at +18 may be in a perfect spot against NC State in the opener.
The Boston College offense was hoping to improve with the hurry up, no-huddle approach, but a success rate of 110th last year speaks otherwise. Quarterback Anthony Brown and running back AJ Dillon return behind an offensive line that loses 145 career starts. The defense was a positive aspect for the Eagles last season, but have a returning production rank of 128th for this season.
Wake Forest will return plenty of experience at quarterback, but the loss of Greg Dortch and Alex Bachman takes away the Deacs biggest touchdown threats. Running back Cade Carney returns, but this rushing attack was just 103rd in explosiveness last season. Over half the games on the Demon Deacons schedule are projected to have point spreads within a touchdown, so there’s a lot of room for volatility here.
Louisville gets an A+ from me for the hiring of Scott Satterfield, who dominated the Sun Belt for years at Appalachian State. The Cardinals returning production on defense is top 20, but Satterfield’s biggest task is finding out if the returning players just gave up on Bobby Petrino or if they simply can’t play. Louisville was 128th in defensive success rate, just etching an offense that was 102nd in the same category.
The Cardinals were 1-11 against the spread last season and failed to cover by 18 points per game, 10 points worse than the next closest team.
Best Clemson Value to Win ACC
Shops differ on price for Clemson to win the ACC. Originally opening at -200 at various New Jersey books, the number can be found anywhere from -500 to -700 now.
There is no doubt Clemson is the most talented team in the ACC, if not in the nation. The big question for investors is where the value stops with the Clemson number when you have to lock your money up for five months.
Using the Action Network power ratings, we know Clemson is projected to be favored by at least three touchdowns in every single ACC regular season game.
Considering a favorite of 21 points or more has a base moneyline of -900, there are key games the Tigers must have to lock up an Atlantic division. Florida State and Syracuse are those games, and with the expectation that Clemson is healthy and undefeated, the moneyline will be substantial.
Using our projected number -900 against Florida State, Syracuse and the Coastal division team in the championship game the true Clemson number should be -270.
With the addition of other games against Boston College, North Carolina State and the remaining ACC games, the odds get lower than -270. Is there value in the current market on any Clemson number over -300?
The answer is no, but this doesn’t necessarily mean we should ignore opportunities. If any book offers a ‘No’ value on Clemson at +700 or more as the summer goes, there may be value taking that number to the ACC Championship Game.
Bets to Watch
- Florida State Over 7.5: Sure my raw projection has the Seminoles at 7, but it cannot be understated what Kendall Briles will do with the offense. That should affect both the offense and defense. From an investment standpoint, we have seen the floor on the Seminoles stock and 2019 should return to the mean and redefine the ceiling.
- Boston College Under 6: There are 6.5’s out there worth investment, as a 6 is more likely to push. If the Eagles do not go 6-1 through their first 7 games, there is a great chance this under cashes. The season ends with Florida State at home and four road games against Clemson, Syracuse, Notre Dame and Pitt. As stated before, the offensive changes to uptempo did Boston College no favors in 2018. Missing offensive lineman and receivers could hurt in the numerous coin flip games.
- Virginia Tech to win Coastal +200: While certain sports books offer odds as great as 25-1 to win the ACC, a Coastal Division bet does not have to worry about a hedge against a heavy Clemson line. The Hokies have a higher returning production number than anyone in the ACC. The toughest game on the schedule is at Miami, while the Hurricanes could easily lose two or more in their conference slate. If the experienced defense can stop the big play, the Hokies will make their way to Charlotte to take on Clemson.