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2019 ACC Tournament Betting Preview

Written by:
Phil Simon
Published on:
Mar/11/2019

The strongest conference in the country is arguably the ACC, which boasts five nationally-ranked teams, including three of the top four in the country.


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Virginia earned the No. 1 seed in the tournament thanks to its win over North Carolina in the only regular season meeting between the two. UNC got a jump on rival Duke with a pair of victories, granted the Heels didn’t have to face Zion Williamson in either of them. The Dookies played the tail-end of the regular season without the future No. 1 NBA draft pick, and should Williamson return for the ACC Tournament, he has to make the Blue Devils the favorite.

ACC Tournament

Dates: Tuesday, March 12 - Saturday, March 16, 2019

Location: Spectrum Center, Charlotte, NC
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ACC Tournament TV Coverage: ESPNU, ESPN2, ESPN

We saw the Blue Devils struggle down the stretch without Williamson and their success hinges on his availability. Coach K said last week that Zion should be ready when the Dookies play their first game on Thursday, but the question remains: Will he play?

As the No. 1 seed, Virginia has the easiest road to the title, if there is such a thing. They’ll avoid Duke and UNC until the championship game as long as they make it that far. And there’s a good chance the Cavs get there. They lost just twice all season, both times to Duke, and once again Tony Bennett’s squad has the top defense in the country. What makes the Cavs so intriguing this year, however, is that they can score at an efficient pace.

UVA is averaging over 72 points per game, which doesn’t compare with UNC and Duke, but it’s the highest per game average in Bennett’s tenure at the school. A big reason for the offensive explosion is the Cavs ability to hit the triple. They connect on 41.5 percent, which is the third-best in the country. They hit 18 of 25 threes and scored 47 second half points in a win over Syracuse last week.

And it hasn’t affected the defense. UVA limited the Orange to 53 points in that game and they held 23 opponents to less than 60 points and 10 of those to fewer than 50. The Cavs have a veteran group that captured the title last season, led by Kyle Guy, who earned tournament MVP honors.

Florida State finished fourth during the regular season, which is important for seeding purposes. The top four teams all receive a double-bye into the quarterfinal round leaving them only three wins away from the league’s automatic bid to the Dance.

We are not going to see a bottom six team win the tournament. First of all they aren’t very good, and having to play five games against increasingly better competition is too much to ask.

The marquee matchup could be a semifinal tilt between Duke and North Carolina. The Heels won both regular season meetings to get the higher seed, but they also didn’t face the Blue Devils at full strength. Williamson said to his teammates after Saturday’s loss to UNC that “we’ll see them next week.”

Player to Watch

If Williamson plays and he’s fully healthy, I like Duke’s chances. Including the UNC game when he got hurt, the Dookies went just 3-3 over their last six, losing more games in that span than they did in the first 25 contests. That tells us everything about his importance to the club. And his stats are impressive, too. Williamson is averaging 21.6 points and 8.8 rebounds while shooting better than 68 percent from the field.

Those numbers include the first UNC game when he left after a minute with his knee injury. With Zion on the floor, Duke had the two highest scoring games allowed by Virginia and won both. He tallied 27 points in the home win and scored 18 when the Dookies prevailed on the road.

ACC Tournament Free Picks

Virginia, UNC and Duke all have something to prove as we head into the conference tournament. The Cavs want to keep rolling and get to the Dance so they can rid themselves of that first round loss last season. They would also like to beat Duke, the only team to hand them a loss this season.

The Heels have an asterisk next to their wins over the Blue Devils since they didn’t have to face Williamson in either contest. Still, UNC is a talented group that posted the most ACC wins under Roy Williams. And Duke needs to get its swagger back, which will happen if Williamson plays. One of these three is going to win the title simply because they are better than the rest, which one is the question. I’m leaning toward Duke as long as Williamson plays.

ACC Tournament Pick: Take Duke to win the Tournament

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