2013 ACC Tournament Picks and College Basketball Odds
by Robert Ferringo - 3/13/2013
Last year I said it was “a pretty safe bet that either Duke or North Carolina is going to win the ACC Tournament.” And it was, since one of those two schools had won the ACC Tournament 15 times in 16 years. But Florida State pulled a major surprise and beat both Carolina powerhouses en route to the school’s first title.
Good for the Seminoles. But now it is an even stronger bet that Duke is going to cut down the nets this weekend since they have gone more than two years between ACC Tournament Championships just once in the last 15 years.
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With Syracuse and Pittsburgh crashing the party next year, this could be the end of the Tobacco Road Reign of Terror. But, right now, looking at a feeble and undernourished ACC field, I’d say that next year seems like a long time away for anyone hoping for another Duke defeat.
The ACC Conference Tournament begins Thursday, March 14, and is being held at the Greensboro Coliseum in North Carolina. The championship game will take place at 1 p.m. on Sunday.
Here is Doc’s Sports 2013 ACC Tournament picks with college basketball odds:
The Favorite: Duke (-250)
It pretty much goes without saying that Duke is the overwhelming favorite to cut down the nets in Greensboro this weekend. They have been unstoppable since the return of forward Ryan Kelly three games ago, and this Blue Devils team might be peaking at the right time. The Blue Devils trio of Kelly, forward Mason Plumlee and guard Seth Curry (all seniors) are as good as any trio in the nation. But the main advantage Duke has over the rest of the league is the mental edge that it controls. Duke has won 10 of the last 14 conference tournaments, and you know that other ACC teams are scared of them when they step on the court. The Blue Devils will likely face nemesis Maryland in the quarterfinals, and they have revenge against the Terps for a regular season loss. After that Duke may have to face the North Carolina team that it just dismantled by 16 in Chapel Hill. After that would be a potential rubber match with Miami.
The Contender: Miami (+200)
Yes, the Hurricanes won their first ever ACC regular season title. And they did demolish Duke in one of the two meetings this year. But all you have to do is look at the odds to see that Duke is the favorite this weekend. Miami is one of the best and most experienced teams in the sport. They have five seniors in their Top 7 players, and this team is focused and determined to crash the ACC party once again. Shane Larkin is a big money point guard, and Kenny Kadji is a do-it-all forward. But the keys for this team will be guard Durand Scott, a four-year starter, and Reggie Johnson, an underachieving center. If those two are focused and in top form this weekend then Miami is more than capable of pulling the regular season-tournament title sweep.
The Sleeper: North Carolina State (+385)
I have soured on the Wolf Pack as the season has progressed. This team is soft, both mentally and defensively. And you can’t win this time of year if you are not willing to go balls out. But this program has pulled off upsets and made some surprise runs in the past, earning a spot in the ACC title game three times in the last 10 years. And, unlike a lot of teams in this conference this season, the Wolf Pack have multiple scoring options that are capable of erupting on any given night. State should handle Virginia Tech. And then they get a crack at a Virginia team that is not nearly as tough outside its own gym. After that would be a third attempt at beating Miami. It is tough. But because N.C. State can avoid Duke or UNC until the final, I have to think they are a viable candidate to go on a little rush here.
The Spoiler: Georgia Tech (+3000)
The Yellowjackets could definitely lose their tournament opener to Boston College and be eliminated in the first game of the weekend. But they also could cause some problems. The Jackets have one of the better young frontcourts in the league, led by freshman Robert Carter and junior Dan Miller. They are long and athletic, and they are one of the few teams that have beaten Miami, their potential quarterfinal opponent. Wake Forest is another potential spoiler in this tournament although they are another weak team overall. But the Demon Deacons also beat Miami, they gave Duke (their potential second matchup) a tough run in Winston-Salem, and they have the strength of the Princeton offense behind them.
No. 8 Boston College (+1) vs. No. 9 Georgia Tech (Noon, Thursday, March 14)
These teams just played last weekend in Chestnut Hill with the host Eagles earning a 74-72 win. Boston College has taken three of four in this series and gone 4-1 ATS, but the underdog is 7-1 ATS the last eight times these teams get together. Boston College is a bit softer on the interior than the Jackets and far less athletic. But they are also more disciplined on the perimeter, and they get more consistent guard play. Unless the Eagles can knock down most of their perimeter shots, I think the Jackets will be too much for them in a clear revenge spot.
No. 5 North Carolina State (-11.5) vs. No. 12 Virginia Tech (2 p.m., Thursday, March 14)
Erick Green has been one of the best scorers in the nation this year. But the Hokies guard is a one-man band, surrounded by a horrible accompaniment. Tech was able to take the Wolf Pack to overtime at N.C. State in the lone meeting this year. And Virginia Tech is actually 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings. But it will take a superhuman effort from Green to shoot the Hokies past an obviously more talented N.C. State group. When Tech loses, they lose spectacularly; their last seven losses have come by an average of over 17 points per game.
No. 7 Maryland (-5.5) vs. No. 10 Wake Forest (7 p.m., Thursday, March 14)
This could be the most entertaining of the first-day matchups. Maryland absolutely has to win this game – and likely would have to beat Duke in the quarterfinals – if they want to avoid a date with the NIT. The Terps are an interesting team capable of beating anyone in the field. But Wake Forest, because of their streaky three-point shooting and unique style, is the last group any mid-tier team in a must-win situation wants to face. Maryland easily swept the regular season series and is 7-0-1 ATS in their last eight against the Demon Deacons. But you know what they say about beating the same team three times in a season. And I expect one last brilliant performance from C.J. Harris.
No. 6 Florida State (-2) vs. No. 11 Clemson (9:30 p.m., Thursday, March 14)
State is the higher seed with the better record (17-14 vs. 13-17), and they swept Clemson during the regular season. But FSU, the defending tournament champions, have been hit-and-miss all year long and are short favorites here. They struggled through a 5-9 stretch in ACC play before closing with solid home wins over Virginia and North Carolina State. Michael Snaer is in his final go-round in the ACC, and FSU knows it is going to the NIT, so this is all they really have to play for. Clemson has lost six straight games. But they have been extremely competitive this year in league play, losing four games by four points or less. This one could be a potential upset as Devin Booker and Milton Jennings fight to extend their careers just a little longer.
2013 ACC Tournament Picks and Betting Predictions: With Miami losing a bit of steam down the stretch, I think it is safe to say that Duke is the hottest team coming into this tournament. That’s trouble for everyone because they are also the best team in the tournament. Duke is playing its best basketball at the right time, and Kelly’s return has given them a boost mentally as well as on the court. Coach K will use the rare second-place finish in the regular season as further motivation for this team. And if Duke makes the finals to face Miami for a third time, I just can’t see the Hurricanes beating the Blue Devils in Duke’s backyard. It is chalk, but look for the Devils to take care of business once again.
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