Let me take you back for a second to March 12, 2020. Here is what I wrote ahead of that day’s ACC Tournament games.
COIVD-19 vs. ACC Tournament
KP: OFF THE BOARD
Vegas: ACC Tournament -135, COVID-19 +115
At this point, it looks like the Clemson vs. Florida State game will tip as scheduled, but the rest of the day is anybody’s guess. Given how quickly things escalated Wednesday evening, the smart bet would be to take the plus money and bet on these games not being played (Note: there is no actual line on this)
Pick: COVID-19 +115
That plus-money wager allowed me to break even on the season despite being eight games under .500 for the season. COVID is still a concern as we kick off the 2021 season of the ACC Basketball Betting Preview, which is something I wouldn’t have thought on that dark day in March. But we have college basketball none the less, and I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts.
The ACC/Big Ten Challenge gives us the first solid slate of ACC games on the year, so without further ado, let’s get going.
Our first game of this year’s challenge provides a glimpse of teams that like to muck it up. Purdue is a far cry from the team that took Virginia to the brink in 2019, with only Trevion Williams, Aaron Wheeler, and Sasha Stefanovich (who combined for a total of 37 minutes played) still around. Miami on the other hand has Chris Lykes who leads my “been around forever” team. Miami hasn’t played anybody, but I don’t love their returning pieces from a team I wasn’t high on a season ago. Purdue on the other hand, has the experience of playing an ACC team in their loss to Clemson. While their win over Liberty might not jump off the page, but always impresses me as I like what Ritchie McKay is doing in Lynchburg. The under is enticing, though it’s been falling, so give me Purdue.
Pick: Purdue -2.5
Boston College Eagles @ Minnesota Golden Gophers
KP: Boston College +8, O/U 148
Vegas: Boston College +7, O/U 149
Coming into the game averaging 26 points per game, Marcus Carr should have a field day against Boston College. The Eagles will defend Carr with either Rich Kelly or Makai Ashton-Langford both of whom will struggle to stay with the Golden Gopher junior. Boston College is certainly tested having faced Villanova, Florida, St. Johns and Rhode Island. The game will be very fast paced with both teams ranking in the top 63 in tempo. That said, I can see Minnesota running away with this game. The total is high, but Minnesota should roll.
Pick: Minnesota -7
These early season games are tough to project with so little information on each team. However, one thing that sticks out at me to help cap this game is Ohio State’s pace. They’re ranked 305th in tempo and that has shown in their offensive output having put up only 81 points per game against teams all ranked below 222nd in KenPom. Notre Dame won’t speed them up as the Irish themselves won’t go fast, ranking 191st in tempo in the country. They’re offensive rebound rate ranks 269th in the country meaning I see this as a game with a large number of prolonged, one-and-done possessions on both sides of the floor keeping scoring muted.
Pick: Under 141
Hoooboy, hang on to your hats. This could be a fun one. With both teams ranking in the top 93 in pace there should be plenty of opportunities for points. But we shouldn’t get carried away with expecting a shoot out. Both teams actually rank in the 200s in defensive tempo meaning they’ll do their best to slow down the other and might have some success. This one comes down to my belief that Iowa may not be all they’re cracked up to be. Luka Garza is great and is going to get his. But, he won’t be able to wear down the UNC front court like he can against other opposition. The ‘Heels will just keep throwing fresh bodies at him. Ultimately, I like North Carolina as they’ll be able to rely on their second chance points taking advantage of Iowa’s 232rd rank in giving up offensive rebounds. That and the points, give me Carolina.
Pick: North Carolina +3.5
Once again, the Hokies are the darlings of the non-con. Tuesday they host Penn State in their first real test with a bullseye on their backs. Lamar Stevens and Mike Watkins are gone from State College, but they still bring back a significant part of their core from last year. I think they’ll be competitive and have the pieces to pull the upset. Nothing about either teams’ style suggest that there’s an advantage, so it could all come down to Virginia Tech’s shooting. If they shoot 50% from three like they did against Villanova, they’ll be fine, but otherwise this one could be close. I don’t think they repeat that performance
Pick: Penn State +5.5
It’s not often when Duke plays a game where it doesn’t have the best two players on the floor. But that’s going to be the case when Illinois comes to Durham with Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn. Welcome to college Jalen Johnson. Cockburn should feast on the boards against the freshman and while Illinois comes in as a trendy sleeper, I think it’s the right perception. I’d love to be getting the five points KenPom suggests, but I’ll take the 3.5 and back the Illini.
Pick: Illinois +3.5
GASP! It’s December and not only has Syracuse left the Carrier Dome, they’ve actually left the state of New York. Ok, they’re only going to New Jersey, but that’s Big Ten country. Ok, despite what Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren would want you to believe, New Jersey isn’t Big Ten Country. Regardless, Syracuse doesn’t usually go on the road this time of year and when they do they’ll face a really good Scarlet Knights team. Syracuse hasn’t been good in years and I don’t see that changing any time soon. I’ll likely be fading the Orange a lot this season and it starts Tuesday.
Pick: Rutgers -4
Season Total: ATS (0-0-0), O/U (0-0-0), Total (0-0-0)