While Tuesday marked the nominal start of the ACC Tournament, Wednesday provides the first full slate of action. Obviously the day’s most important game tips off at 9pm, but there are three games beforehand that you might as well watch, and if you’re gonna watch you might as well profit.
ACC Tournament Prediction Record: 2-1
Note: No profits are guaranteed. Gambling is a risk. It is also illegal in many states and illegal activities are bad.
Game #1: #8 Syracuse (18-13, 10-8 in ACC) v. #9 Miami (20-10, 10-8 in ACC)
Time/Channel: 12pm, ESPN/ACCNetwork
Point Spread: Miami -1.5
Regular Season Meetings (Home team in bold): 1/4: Syracuse 70, Miami 55
Overview: Both Syracuse and Miami finished with identical conference records, and while both are likely to make the NCAA Tournament, the Hurricanes position in the field seems more entrenched. While Miami picked up late wins against Virginia and Duke, Syracuse stumbled down the stretch in ACC play, losing four of their final six games and backing their way out into the bubble conversation.
Given the soft bubble this year in the end both teams are likely safe, but Syracuse needs this one more and I think they get it. Jim Boeheim was vociferous in his displeasure during the years the ACC Tournament was hosted in Greensboro and now that it’s in New York I expect the Orange faithful to show up in droves. This should be a veritable home game for a Cuse team that lost only one conference game in the state of New York and I think the Orange advance in front of their fans.
The Pick: Syracuse +1.5
Game #2: #5 Duke (23-8, 11-7 in ACC) v. #12 Clemson (17-14, 6-12 in ACC)
Time/Channel: 2pm, ESPN/ACCNetwork
Point Spread: Duke -7
Regular Season Meetings (Home team in bold): 2/11: Duke 64, Clemson 62
Overview: While Clemson kept their bubble hopes alive with a Tuesday afternoon beatdown of an NC State team that appeared to have quit on their already fired coach, the Tigers probably need a win today against Duke to feel comfortable with their tourney chances. Clemson probably could’ve avoided this predicament entirely with a win at Cameron Indoor earlier this season, but in true Tiger tradition they found a way to keep the game close only to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
While Clemson is consistent in their mediocrity, Duke may be the hardest team to pin down in the country. The Blue Devils have one of the nation’s most talented rosters and appeared to be coming together in mid-February only to drop three of their final four games, all on the road. Given their inconsistency I think Coach K will put more emphasis on this tourney than he usually does, this team needs to put together a few solid performances in a row if they want to be taken seriously as a national title contender. Clemson will keep this close for a half, but ultimately this Duke team is just too talented and I think they pull away late.
The Pick: Duke -7
Game #3: #7 Virginia Tech (21-9, 10-8 in ACC) v. #10 Wake Forest (19-12, 9-9 in ACC)
Time/Channel: 7pm, ESPN2/ACCNetwork
Point Spread: Wake Forest -2
Regular Season Meetings (Home team in bold): 3/4: Wake Forest 89, Virginia Tech 84
Overview: Wake Forest avoided disaster by pulling away late from Boston College on Tuesday, likely securing their place in the NCAA Tournament field and setting up a rematch with a Virginia Tech squad they played just four days ago. These are two of the hottest teams in the ACC as Wake enters the contest having won four straight while the Hokies had won five of six before a senior day loss to the Demon Deacons.
That end of year victory clearly hasn’t been forgotten by Vegas, where the sportsbooks made Wake a 2 point favorite today despite their lower seeding. While the Deacons are certainly capable of defeating the Hokies twice in 5 days, I wouldn’t count on it. During their win in Blacksburg, Wake Forest shot 42% from three and managed to attempt an obscene 33 free throws, getting the type of whistles usually reserved for other North Carolina teams, and they still only won by 5. I think this game is a little more equitably refereed and the Hokies get revenge.
The Pick: Virginia Tech +2
Game #4: #7 Virginia (21-9, 11-7 in ACC) v. #14 Pittsburgh (16-16, 4-14 in ACC)
Time/Channel: 9pm, ESPN2/ACCNetwork
Point Spread: Virginia -9
Regular Season Meetings (Home team in bold): 1/4: Pittsburgh 88, Virginia 76 (OT); 3/4: Virginia 67, Pittsburgh 42
Overview: This Pitt team is trash. I said it on the STL podcast before they caught fire from beyond the three point arc and upset the Hoos in January, I held firm in my stance after the loss as they sunk to the bottom of the ACC, and I was finally vindicated this past weekend as the Panthers were blown out in Charlottesville. While it’s unlikely that Pitt’s only two good players, Jamel Artis and Michael Young, ride the bench again for the first ten minutes of this contest, their presence shouldn’t be enough to make up for the fact that no one else on Pitt is good.
On the other side, Virginia finally seems to have found their rhythm after a four game offensive drought that had UVa fans panicking. The insertion of freshmen Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome into the starting lineup has breathed new life into the offense and the four guard lineup makes up for UVa’s lack of a post-threat. It’s always difficult to pick Virginia to cover such a large spread given the low scoring nature of UVa games, but it’s important to remember that Pitt is bad at basketball.
The Pick: Virginia -9