Well, well, well my friends…another wild week in the ACC and another week closer to March. Grab yourself a bourbon, a scotch or the adult beverage of your choosing and let’s get rolling.
Over the weekend, we saw Louisville serve up one of the most pathetic and gutless performances of the year. Coming off a road loss to Ga Tech, Louisville looked unmotivated and apathetic against an average Clemson team. There may be serious issues with the heart, chemistry and toughness of this team. Perhaps I’m mad because I bet on Louisville, but good teams don’t just roll over and lay down for opponents like we saw here. Fortunately for the Cardinals, they bounced back with a blowout home win vs Syracuse Wednesday night. Either way, their lack of consistency is troubling.
Virginia continued their slow but steady push towards the postseason with a buzzer beating 3 to win at UNC and a dominant home victory vs Boston College. Other ACC bubble teams weren’t so fortunate. Syracuse lost a close one at FSU and got steamrolled at Louisville. Notre Dame barely got by UNC Monday night after getting straight bullied by Duke in Cameron.
Speaking of North Carolina, their last second loss to Notre Dame made it two buzzer beater losses in three days. In fact, they have lost in the final seconds in 3 out of their last 4 games. It’s been an unreal ride that’s absolutely hilarious for anyone not a fan of the ‘Heels.
NC State continues to perplex. Over the weekend they couldn’t top a pedestrian BC squad in a sleepy arena outside Boston. Then Wednesday night they turn in their performance of the year with a commanding win over Duke. I suppose this epitomizes why they are squarely on the bubble.
Odds to win the National Championship:
Duke + 900
Louisville + 1200
Florida State + 1800
UVA + 8000
NC State + 25000
Although alarming, I don’t want to overreact too much to Louisville’s two straight road losses. One could argue that it may be a good time to buy low. If you didn’t listen to my advice last week, I’d rather wait and monitor how they end the regular season and how they play in the ACC tournament before placing any futures on them. Duke’s week (crushing ND and losing at NC St) doesn’t change how I view their prospects. I just don’t see the value at + 900. Especially when you look across the country and can get teams like Baylor at +750, Maryland at +1200, Dayton at +1400, and Kentucky at +1600. FSU is slowly starting to grow on me as a dark horse final four candidate but I’m still not a believer they have a realistic chance to cut down the nets.
ACC Bubble Watch:
Louisville (22-5, 13-3)
Duke (22-4, 12-3)
Florida State (22-4, 12-3)
Virginia (18-7, 10-5) – Look, UVA isn’t pretty. They don’t play a pretty brand of basketball and they damn sure don’t win pretty. However, their current 3 game road streak is slowly locking up an invitation in the NCAA tournament. As a projected 10, 11, or 12 seed, their defensive-focused brand of basketball could pose some challenges for their first and/or second round opponent. However, they simply don’t have enough offensive firepower to advance much further than that. Overall, give props to Tony Bennett for getting the most out of a talent-deficient squad in a rebuilding year after winning it all in 2019.
NC State (17-9, 8-7) – well it wouldn’t be a bubble watch without the Wolfpack. The perennial bubble residents had an up and down week. They got their signature win Wednesday night over Duke but that alone won’t get them in. You got 5 games left in the regular season. At the minimum they need to go 3-2 and it would be nice if one of those 3 wins was FSU at home this weekend or the rematch vs Duke in Cameron on March 2nd.
Notre Dame (16-10, 7-8) & Syracuse (14-12, 7-8) – Talk to me when you string together a few wins. If not, good luck in the NIT boys…
Game Previews (lines not yet available)
Virginia at Pitt (Noon ET Saturday): While Pitt isn’t a very good team, they are at least somewhat formidable while playing at home in the Zoo. UVA doesn’t have the offense to beat teams by wide margins. If the spread is above 7 or 8 points, take the home dog to cover.
Florida State at NC State (4PM ET Saturday): Can NC State muster up two big Quad 1 home wins in a row? I expect the game to be relatively tight but an NC State let down after the big Duke win is possible. I’ll take FSU to win by six to eight points. Where the line falls will dictate the side to bet.
North Carolina at Louisville (4PM ET Sat): Expect Louisville to be about a 10 point favorite here. UNC keeps battling thru injuries, bad luck, and an average roster but this may be the game where the train finally gets completely off the tracks. Louisville is a different team at home and I expect them to run away with this game.
Georgia Tech @ Syracuse (4PM ET Sat): Look, in order to beat the zone, you need to hit shots from beyond the arc and stretch the D. Unfortunately for GT, they only shoot 29.9 % from long range which ranks them 321st in the country! With the Orange still clinging to postseason hopes, I expect a win and a cover here.
Clemson @ Boston College (6PM ET Sat): with a fantastic slate of games across the country on Saturday, I’m not sure why anyone would watch and/or wager on this middling ACC game. Oh wait, we’re degenerates – that’s why. Clemson is on 7 days rest since whipping Louisville last Saturday. The game prior to that, they beat Pitt by 20 on the road. Perhaps things are beginning to click for the Tigers and I expect it to continue up North. Gimme Clemson to win by about 10.
Virginia Tech @ Duke (8PM ET Sat): It goes without saying that Coach K is not going to be pleased with his team’s effort in Raleigh Wednesday night. After a tough couple days of practice, the Blue Devils will be eager to take on the over-matched Hokies. I expect a double digit win that may get up to about 20. Duke will be a big favorite but I’m leaning towards the home team. They won at VT by 14 back in December.
Miami @ Notre Dame (6PM ET Sun): A pretty weak Sunday night showcase game. Miami just took down VT in triple over time in Blacksburg while Notre Dame is still somewhat clinging to postseason hopes. I expect a close game but give the nod to Notre Dame who will pull away late and win by 5 or 6.
It’s not all ACC sports here! There’s a nice little tournament this week called the WGC-Mexico. Here’s my Draft Kings 6. With Rahm and Xander, I get two of the top 10 golfers in the world who are threats whenever and wherever they tee off. By saving some coin and not paying up for DJ or Rory, I get three solid mid-tier guys who could push for top 10 or top 20 finishes. Leishman won the Farmers Open two events ago, Cabrera-Bello finished top 5 in Mexico in 2018, and Hun An was top 10 at the Phoenix Open 3 weeks ago. Herbert is a low-cost flyer who has been making some noise on the Euro tour of late.
$10.6K – Jon Rahm
$9.4K – Xander Schauffele
$8.1K – Marc Leishman
$7.6K – Rafa Cabrera-Bello
$7.4K – Byeong Hun-An
$6.7K – Lucas Herbert
Good fortunes to all this weekend……NC Nick