2018 ACC Basketball Tournament Odds and Expert Predictions
This year's Atlantic Coast Conference could become just the third league in history to send 10 teams to the NCAA Tournament. That could happen despite the fact that, by my estimation, the ACC is no better than the third-best conference in the country. (Take your pick between the Big 12, SEC and Big East for better leagues.)
The ACC is getting WAY too much love from the Bracketology Industrial Complex. But the result is that they will be playing one of the most consequential conference tournaments in the country this week with six bubble teams all desperate for wins to secure an NCAA Tournament bid.
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The ACC Tournament begins Tuesday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn with the league crowning a champion on Saturday night. Here is Doc's Sports 2018 ACC Tournament preview and predictions:
The Favorite: Virginia (+200)
Just so we're clear, with all the "good" and tournament-caliber teams in the ACC, only one beat the Cavs (Virginia Tech) and Virginia won the league by a full four games. No team in the country is as ruthlessly efficient on both ends of the court as Virginia. They are the No. 1 defense in the nation and have outscored their opponents by an average of 14.5 points per game. Sophomore backcourt mates Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome are the big shot takers, and freshman De'Andre Hunter gives them a potential top-end talent. The rest of this team just knows their roles and does their jobs. This team won't beat itself; someone will have to drive a stake through the Cavs' hearts to knock this team out.
The Contender: Duke (+180)
The Blue Devils, the defending ACC champions, are one of the youngest teams in the country, starting four freshmen around senior Grayson Allen. Big men Marvin Bagley and Wendell Carter are not-so-distant-future pros and are overwhelming in the post. But Duke has some red flags. They don't defend nearly as well as their stats suggest they do. And this team has some bad losses on the road, falling to teams like St. John's and Boston College. That means that they aren't nearly as dominating as their ranking might lead you to think. Then again, a similarly shaky Blue Devils squad won this tourney here last year.
The Sleeper: North Carolina (+570)
Despite a Top 10 ranking, North Carolina slid to the No. 6 seed due to a four-way tie for third in the ACC. And we are 31 games into the season and it is still tough to have a firm grasp on the defending champions. They are coming off back-to-back losses and are just 6-5 SU in their last 11 games. But three of their last four losses have come by four points or less, and they still have the swagger and experience of a champion. Carolina has made the finals of this tournament five times in the past seven years. But they have claimed just one title, winning the ACC in 2016. It's tough to know what to expect from this group. And that makes them dangerous.
The Spoiler: Notre Dame (+3000)
The Irish are one of the most interesting teams in the country. When healthy, Notre Dame is one of the best 20 or 25 teams in the country. But they just got All-American Bonzie Colson back, and right now their resume wouldn't warrant NCAA Tournament inclusion. This team needs wins - desperately. Can they go on a run? Notre Dame has a favorable matchup. They play hapless Pitt in the opener, followed by a matchup with streaky Virginia Tech. The Irish would have two wins and a bunch of momentum under their belts by the time they took on Duke in quarterfinals. Can the Irish do enough to punch their ticket this week? Or will the crushing pressure be too much?
Bubble Team To Watch: Louisville (+3600)
This team is a wreck right now. They are coming off back-to-back losses, including their stunning loss to Virginia last Thursday (they blew a four-point lead with less than one second to play). The Cardinals have lost four of five and seven of their last 10. But this team still has a chance to play its way into The Big Dance if they can beat Florida State in the opener to set up a third meeting with Virginia. Louisville has size, talent and experience. But can they put it together long enough to make a run and get themselves into The Big Dance?
Potential Early Round Matchup To Watch:
No. 7 Virginia Tech (-2) vs. No. 10 Notre Dame (7 p.m., Wednesday, March 7)
This has the potential to be one of the best games of the tournament. Virginia Tech beat the Irish in the first matchup, winning 80-75. But Notre Dame played that one without Matt Farrell and Bonzie Colson. With their two all-league talents back in the fold, the Irish are a completely different animal. But the Hokies, who are over reliant on the 3-point shot, can get hot in a hurry. And they are the only team in the country to beat Virginia, Duke and North Carolina. Both teams need this game. And both teams could be dangerous opponents for Duke in the next round. But this will absolutely be one to watch.
2018 ACC Conference Tournament Predictions: Parity is the word around the ACC. They have 11 teams vying for NCAA Tournament bids, and they will bring that level of desperation to Brooklyn this week. There hasn't been a repeat tournament champion since Duke won three in a row from 2009-2011. And six different schools have cut down the nets the past six years. Virginia is one of those six teams, and they really do have the best path to the finals. However, I think that whichever teams survives the chaos of the bottom of the bracket - and I predict that either Duke or Miami (or both) won't make it to the semifinals, even though they only have to win one game to get there - will be good enough to take down the Cavaliers.
Robert Ferringo is a member of the Basketball Writer's Association of America and a professional sports handicapper for Doc's Sports. He is considered one of the best college basketball handicappers in the country and has posted 10 of 11 winning seasons. He is looking for a monster March run and will have an 8-Unit Conference Tournament Game of the Year this week. You can sign up for his college basketball picks and get more information here .
Read more articles by Robert Ferringo
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