Florida State, Duke favorites heading into ACC Tournament

Duke looks to end funk before ACC March Madness
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Ricky Dimon

NCAAB · 2 years ago

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Since graduating from Davidson (The College That Stephen Curry Built), I have been writing about sports--just about any and all you can think of!--and coaching tennis in Atlanta, Ga. Beyond the four major sports, I am an avid tennis fan and cover the ATP Tour on a daily basis. If I'm not busy writing, you can generally find me on a tennis court or traveling the world wherever a sporting event takes me.

The ACC Tournament used to be the granddaddy of them all. Not too much unlike the Rose Bowl (which is the actual granddaddy of them all) in college football, other events have now usurped it in the department of importance and prestige. That’s not to say the ACC Tournament—or the Rose Bowl, for that matter—is chump change these days. It simply hasn’t been the best conference in college basketball on a consistent basis over the past two decades, and this year is no exception.

Although the ACC is good, it isn’t great. But could this week’s tournament be exceptional? Absolutely. Like the nation as a whole, there is no clear-cut dominant team. The title is without question up for grabs. There is plenty of depth, too. Heck, now that Cole Anthony is back last-place North Carolina has been playing good basketball the past four weeks and is the fifth favorite to win the conference tournament. That’s right; the last-place team is the fifth favorite.

But for now let’s take a look at the top four favorites—and be sure to check out our free college basketball expert picks throughout the tournament, starting with first-round action on Tuesday.

Florida State Seminoles +175

The Seminoles are 26-5 overall, 16-4 in the ACC, and have an outside shot at a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament—the same seed with which they enter this week’s festivities in Greensboro, N.C. This Florida State squad is typically long, athletic, and especially stingy on defense. Sophomore guard Devin Vassell and freshman forward Patrick Williams are potential lottery picks in the 2020 NBA Draft.

Duke Blue Devils +200

From 2011 through 2016, six different teams won the ACC Tournament. Duke has since restored ordered to the proceedings, with two titles in the past three years to extend their record to 21 (North Carolina is second with 18). The Blue Devils certainly have a chance to make it three out of four, having recovered from a disastrous stretch in late February with recent wins over N.C. State and UNC. Vernon Carey Jr. has delivered two double-doubles in the past three outings, including 25 points and 10 rebounds against the Tar Heels.

Louisville Cardinals +350

Unlike Florida State and also Virginia, the Cardinals do not have a ton of momentum going into the tournament. They are just 3-4 in their last seven games after previously boasting a 21-3 record (12-1 ACC). Now 24-7 (15-5 ACC), Louisville settled for the No. 3 seed in Greensboro. On the bright side, that means the Cards are opposite FSU and Duke in the bracket. Additional good news is that Jordan Nwora (18.0 ppg, 7.7 rpg) is one of the best players in the land.

Virginia Cavaliers +600

According to Joe Lunardi’s latest Bracketology, the ACC has only four locks to make the NCAA Tournament. Virginia is the fourth, currently with a No. 6 seed (N.C. State makes for a fifth representative right now, but it is one of Lunardi’s last four in). The Cavaliers, who won the ACC Tournament in 2018 and the National Championship in 2019, are not the Cavaliers of the recent past. But a new-look squad is picking up much-needed momentum at the right time, with an eight-game winning streak and an 11-1 record in their last 12. Jay Huff (7.8.5 ppg) is averaging 14.3 ppg over the past three contests.

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