The best time of the year is back! The next 3 weeks include all major conference tournaments plus the first two weekends of NCAA play, a veritable smorgasbord for college basketball fans. While you’ll probably tune in no matter what, sometimes it can be hard to really get invested in non-UVa games, and that’s why gambling was invented. Throughout the ACC Tournament I’ll be providing expert (i.e. completely amateur) predictions to help you not only stay engaged, but profit in the process.
Note: No profits are guaranteed. Gambling is a risk. It is also illegal in many states and illegal activities are bad.
Game #1: #12 Clemson (16-14, 6-12 in ACC) v. #13 NC State (15-16, 4-14 in ACC)
Time/Channel: 12pm ET, ESPN2/ACCNetwork
Point Spread: Clemson -6 (As a quick refresher this means Clemson must win by more than six for a bet on them to win)
Regular Season Meetings (Home team in bold): 3/1: Clemson 78, NC State 74
Overview: While these two teams have similar records, their season narratives are completely different. Clemson has had an up and down year marked by close losses but is still a rough bubble team (Joe Lunardi has him in his ‘Next Four Out’) with a lot to play for this week. Meanwhile the Wolfpack came into the season with high expectations thanks to a possible top-5 draft pick at point guard, but arrives in Brooklyn a fractured team with an already fired coach.
Despite all that, I’m still picking the Wolfpack to cover. While they’re only 1-3 since coach Mark Gottfried was fired they’ve shown heart in every game, playing Notre Dame and UVa close for a while, beating Georgia Tech in Atlanta, and falling in the aforementioned contest to Clemson on the road. Meanwhile six of Clemson’s last eight games have been decided by six points or fewer. Brad Brownell’s bunch will likely win, but they don’t know how to pull away.
The Pick: NC State +6
Game #2: #10 Wake Forest (18-12, 9-9 in ACC) v. #15 Boston College (9-22, 2-16 in ACC)
Time/Channel: 2pm ET, ESPN2/ACCNetwork
Point Spread: Wake Forest -13
Regular Season Meetings (Home team in bold): 1/3: Wake Forest 79, Boston College 66. 1/31: Wake Forest 85, Boston College 80
Overview: Wake Forest against Boston College on Tuesday has become an ACC Tournament tradition but this year one team actually has something to play for! Boston College improved on last year’s 0-18 mark in conference play by winning two ACC games, but it’s Wake Forest who finds themselves on the bubble as one of Lunardi’s Last Four In. A win here wouldn’t guarantee the Demon Deacons a spot in the tourney, but a loss would almost surely move them out.
The Deacons have worked their way onto the bubble by being one of the hotter teams at the end of ACC play, emerging victorious in their past three games including a road conquest at Virginia Tech and a signature home win against Louisville. Boston College on the other hand has lost 14 straight since starting the season 2-2 in conference. The Eagles have also stopped being competitive, losing each of their last four by at least 14 points. 13 points is a lot to lay with a fringe tournament team, but I just can’t back Boston College here.
The Pick: Wake Forest -13
Game #3: #11 Georgia Tech (17-14, 8-10 in ACC) v. #14 Pittsburgh (15-16, 4-14 in ACC)
Time/Channel: 7pm ET, ESPNU/ACCNetwork
Point Spread: Pittsburgh -1
Regular Season Meetings (Home team in bold): 2/28: Georgia Tech 61, Pittsburgh 52
Overview: Tuesday’s ACC Tourney action closes with yet another game that has nominal NCAA Tournament relevance. In their first season under teenage coach Josh Pastner, Georgia Tech has been one of the ACC’s most pleasant surprises. The Yellow Jackets picked up signature wins against the ACC’s elite in UNC, Florida State, and Notre Dame, but their lack of consistency has them on the outside of the Big Dance at the moment, accompanying Clemson in Lunardi’s ‘Next Four Out’ grouping. Pittsburgh is also helmed by an ACC newcomer in first year coach Kevin Stallings, but the Panthers have struggled of late, dropping four straight and five of their last six.
Despite all that, Vegas still has the Panthers as a one point favorite and there’s a simple reason: Georgia Tech is awful outside of Atlanta. The Yellow Jackets last two wins away from home came against NC State in January and VCU in December of 2016. As a matter of fact those were the Jackets only two road wins as they finished the season just 2-10 in games played outside The Hive (or whatever their arena is called). Pittsburgh may be struggling but they still have two of the ACC’s top players in Jamel Artis and Michael Young, and I just can’t side with Georgia Tech on the road.
The Pick: Pittsburgh -1