College basketball never lets us down. A bevy of top teams across the country lost over the weekend potentially opening up #1 seeds in the NCAA tournament. Baylor lost at home to Kansas, Gonzaga on the road to BYU, and San Diego St surprisingly at home to UNLV. In case you weren’t aware, Jerry Tarkanian is no longer UNLV’s coach and Larry Johnson, Greg Anthony, and Stacy Augmon have all exhausted their eligibility. In all seriousness, there’s no harm in dropping a game (San Diego St was previously undefeated), I’m just surprised it came at home to an average-at-best UNLV team.
Baring the unexpected, it appears Baylor and Kansas will be #1 seeds. So far at this point most experts have kept Gonzaga and San Diego St at the top line. However, one more loss for either team will most likely drop them to a #2. Personally, I think the whole seeding conversation is overrated. If you are going to make a final four run you have to earn it by beating tough opponents at different points in the tournament. Who cares if you are a #1 or a #2 seed or if you are playing in the East or the Midwest region. Prove it on the court!
ACC’s game of the week came Monday night as FSU closed out the final 14 minutes on a 39-14 run to give Louisville its 3rd loss in 5 games. Down by double digits in the second half, the ‘Noles flipped a switch, locked down defensively, and hit enough shots to move into first place in the conference.
Duke’s road woes continued with a double OT loss at Wake Forest who is currently ranked second to last in the ACC. The last place team (UNC) completed a regular season sweep against rival NC State at home Tuesday evening. In the midst of one of their worst seasons in school history, UNC fans can still cling to the fact that they swept the Wolfpack this year. Don’t think that this doesn’t stick in the crawl of all the Pack backers.
National Championship Odds
Duke + 800
Louisville + 1500
Florida State + 1600
UVA + 8000
NC State + 25000
I’ve talked about Louisville ad nauseam in this section of my weekly blog. Bottom line – they are a team that does not respond well to adversity. I have a hard investing in a team that lacks mental toughness. Over the last 3 weeks, their odds have gone from +900, to +1200, to +1500. Conversely, FSU’s odds have gone from +2000, to +1800, to +1600. Duke’s has hovered back and forth around +800 to +900. I currently only see value in FSU. If they can advance a couple rounds in the tournament you could sell your ticket in a secondary market at a profit. As the season progresses, it’s becoming abundantly clear that the eventual national champion will not come from the ACC.
ACC Bubble Watch
Louisville (23-6, 14-4)
Duke (23-5, 13-4)
Florida State (24-4, 14-3)
UVA (20-7, 12-5) – don’t look now but the defending national champions have won 5 in a row and are very close to cementing themselves as the fourth ACC team to earn lock status. A big win this weekend vs Duke at home could seal the deal. They also have Louisville coming to town next weekend in the regular season finale.
NC State (17-11, 8-9) – All of a sudden that big blowout win over Duke seems so long ago. In true Wolfpack fashion, they dropped the next two games that followed which has left them with a below .500 record in the league. They just may need to win the remaining 3 regular season games (including the rematch at Duke) plus a game in the ACC tournament if they want to feel comfortable on the evening of March 15th.
Notre Dame (18-10, 9-8) & Syracuse (16-12, 9-8) – apparently these teams read my article and have decided to win some games. Notre Dame has won 3 in a row and Syracuse has won it’s last 2. Currently, I wouldn’t classify either as on the bubble but keep on winning and we shall see what happens. If both teams can win out, their respective overall records would be 21-10 and 19-12 and both with conference records of 12-8. I know it’s a down year in the ACC, but that ain’t too shabby. If the bubble gets soft perhaps these two can “bubble up”.
Game Previews (lines not yet available)
Pitt at NC State (Noon ET Saturday): NC State should take care of business here with relative ease. Pitt has just been dreadful on the road. In fact, the Panthers can only claim two road wins all year! They won at UNC in early January and at Robert Morris (their Steel City brethren) back in November. With the Pack in much need of W’s, expect them to win by at least 12 or so.
Florida State at Clemson (2PM ET Saturday): red hot and newly minted #1 in the ACC – FSU tries to not be the latest top seed to drop a game on the road this weekend. After losing @ Pitt in the first game of the year, the ‘Noles have gone 14-2 in ACC play. Their lone blemishes were @ UVA and @ Duke. Meanwhile Clemson can boast about home wins over Duke and Louisville this year. I expect FSU to win but it’ll be a close game. Estimated margin of victory about 6 to 8 points similar to the FSU at NC State game last weekend.
UNC at Syracuse (4PM ET Sat): After losing seven straight games, can UNC string together consecutive wins? Syracuse cruised to an easy win at Pitt on Wednesday night and desperately needs to keep things rolling. A lit crowd in the Carrier Dome will propel the Orange to a close win. Another buzzer beater loss for UNC maybe?
Notre Dame @ Wake Forest (4PM ET Sat): It’s senior day in Winston Salem this Saturday so expect a big game from Brandon Childress. However, inconsistency has been the one trademark of Danny Manning’s tenure at Wake and I have a hunch their will be a let down after the big Duke win. With Notre Dame still barely clinging onto postseason hopes, they will get the road win by 5 or 6.
Duke @ UVA (6PM ET Sat): you might have to check my head for expecting Duke to win a road game but I think the Blue Devils will pull out the W. During their recent streak of wins, UVA has been excellent in close games (due to their lack of offensive explosion, almost every game they play is close) but a bit lucky as well. Their luck runs dry Saturday evening.
Miami @ Georgia Tech (8PM ET Sat): GT has won 5 straight home games and are currently playing their best ball of the year. Miami has been scrappy but going into Atlanta will pose too big of a challenge. Expect the Yellow Jackets to win by around 8 to 10.
Virginia Tech @ Louisville (6PM ET Sun): The Hokies could only muster up 11 first half points against UVA Wednesday night. They bounced back in the 2nd half and at least made it a game but you can’t have offensive droughts like that on the road against good teams. VT is 2-8 in their last 10 games and should get steamrolled here. Louisville will win by 20 and once again get their fans hopes up.
Welcome to the XFL! While I may currently reside on tobacco road, I hail from DC and I am fully on the Defenders bandwagon. Not sure what the hell happened last weekend, but DC will show the true heart of a champion and bounce back in stellar fashion. DC -2.5 – is this a joke? Expect a blowout here. Go Defenders!
Good fortunes to all this weekend……NC Nick