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2017 ACC Conference Tournament Odds and Betting Preview

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  • Where: Barclays Center. Brooklyn, NY
  • When: March 7, 2017 12:00 pm EST
  • Moneyline: North Carolina (+190) Louisville (+400) Virginia (+400) Duke (+450) Florida State (+650) Notre Dame (+1200) Syracuse (+2500) Virginia Tech (+4000) Wake Forest (+4000)

Most basketball fans seem to think the NCAA Championship Tournament begins later this March. In truth, it has already begun, with Division 1 conference tourneys serving as a last-chance play-in opportunity (the athletic kind, not live betting) for dozens of long-shots.

But legitimate national title contenders are in the limelight, and not just for an evaluation of form in the most important month of the year. While levels of motivation and health may differ from squad to squad, even a top-ten team can improve its NCAA seeding by winning a strong league tournament.

North Carolina is the top Atlantic Coast Conference seed competing in the Big Apple, at only (+190) tourney-winning odds. At a glance, the near-even line is no oversight. The 5th-ranked Tar Heels can boast of nearly knocking off Kentucky (final score: 103-100) in the CBS Sports Classic early in the 2016-17 season. Why brag on a loss? Because Joel Berry III, the team’s stirring-straw guard and three-point specialist, was injured at the time. Virginia and Louisville are talented lineups who engaged in half-court battles with UNC during the season, with mixed results.

Duke, ranked #1 in pre-season polls, lurks as a possible sweetheart-pick.

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North Carolina in command

Bet on UNC in ACC tournamentBerry is healthy and alive now, and scored 28 points the ‘Heels gained a revenge-win over Duke on March 4th. With a regular season ACC crown in the bag, the Carolina Blue and White have a lot to play for in Brooklyn. Versatility and grit will be necessary to win a difficult single-elimination tourney. The question is, how versatile or physical can Roy Williams afford to let his team be right now?

Like any old-school coach, Williams believes that his capable fast-break game blossoms out of good defense. With the “big dance” lurking, the venerable skipper may not ask players to push the tempo, looking for an at-all-costs championship. A respectable loss in the ACC tournament title game, for instance, would not significantly crush Chapel Hill’s hopes for a top NCAA-seeding.

As successful as the Tar Heels have been in half-court, a slow possession-trading style means one bad shooting day and you’re done. Justin Jackson is a swift junior forward who will be counted on to hit outside shots alongside Berry, lest the team play well and fall behind anyway.

North Carolina does have the easiest draw of any school in the top half of the bracket. The tall, brawny athletes will sit out the first two rounds and then likely play Duke, who they dominated in the paint on Saturday…or Louisville, who they handled 74-63 on February 22nd.

Woe to the fringe contenders!

There is not much value to consider in most of the popular bets to beat UNC. Louisville is saddled with a terrible draw, coming in cold to a likely match-up with Duke, with Carolina waiting in the wings.

The Blue Devils are talented enough to make some type of postseason magic, sure, except for depth issues which were exposed over the course of 2016-17. Sharpshooters like Luke Kennard and Marik Malik have dazzled, with Kennard going 5-of-9 from behind the arc in a game against Syracuse. But Coach K’s kids have tired with injury, inexperience and depleted numbers as the season has gone on, losing three of their last four ACC contests to finish with a glum seven conference defeats.

Florida State is being touted as a possible tourney surprise. Certainly, mid-level contenders like the Seminoles enjoy the best-possible circumstances in league brackets – high motivation to secure a strong March Madness seed, and the talent to back it up. 6’7″ sophomore shooting-guard Dwayne Bacon is bringing home all kinds of sportswriter-puns with a 16.9 ppg average and more steals and assists than turnovers. But like Duke, FSU soured down the stretch, losing ACC games to Georgia Tech, Syracuse and Pitt by double-digits.

Virginia is also not the best value wager. The Cavaliers had a miserable February, losing five in a row at one point, and their ballyhooed 54-44 win over UNC last week was a mirage. The Tar Heels were as cold as ice from the field, and should easily win if the two programs meet again in March.

You get the whiskey, I’ll get the wine

MSB picks Notre Dame as a high-value upset futures pick at BetOnline. The odds are right for a big payoff at (+1200), and the Fighting Irish have less ACC losses than Duke or Virginia. In fact, UNC is their only rival with less. The Irish have been streaky, but that makes a team more dangerous in the quick-draw format of a conference tourney. In January, the currently top-25 ranked Gold and Blue went on a marvelous tear of ACC wins, clicking off five in a row against the likes of Pittsburgh, Louisville, Clemson, Miami and Virginia Tech.

Look for quick, do-it-all forward Bonzie Colson to continue to shine. The 6’5″ junior has averaged a double-double this season and is a fierce offensive rebounder and finisher. Matt Ferrell is a handy veteran guard who has popped .425 of his trey-attempts this season. Martinas Geben is a physical force who can anchor the Irish inside against UNC with his 6’10” 255-lb frame. Add a lucky Irish clover of a draw, and you’ve got a potential upset winner.

Wager on the ACC Tournament

Notre Dame’s draw will help them reach the final, as it offers two early-round byes and avoids any pairing with North Carolina, Duke, or Louisville until the last day. Every game will be hotly contested, but the odds lean in the bettor’s favor when your team has less games to play and an easier path of opponents.

UNC will out-last anyone on their end of the bracket, and most likely serve as Notre Dame’s foil in the end. But the Irish will be more motivated to go all-out, attempting to steal themselves a red-carpet seed in the big dance. Wager on UND for a hot commodity and wallet-stuffing winner at the ACC tournament.

Kurt BoyerThis article was written by Kurt Boyer

A freelance sportswriter from Missouri, Kurt has covered court, gridiron, rink and ring for 10+ years. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.

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