Despite being the No. 4 seed entering the 2020 ACC Tournament, the Duke Blue Devils (+160) are the favorites to win the conference championship in Greensboro this weekend. Duke has won 12 of the past 21 ACC Tournaments since 1999, and no other school has earned the conference’s automatic bid more than three times in that stretch.
The oddsmakers have listed regular-season conference champ Florida State (+200) just behind Duke, with Louisville (+300), Virginia (+550), and North Carolina (+1600) rounding out the top five.
2020 ACC Tournament odds
- Duke +160
- Florida State +200
- Louisville +300
- Virginia +550
- North Carolina +1600
- Notre Dame +2500
- Clemson +3300
- North Carolina State +3300
- Syracuse +3300
- Miami +6600
- Pittsburgh +10000
- Virginia Tech +10000
- Boston College +15000
- Wake Forest +15000
It’s been something of a disappointing season for Duke, and Mike Krzyzewski has been frustrated with this team’s development. Other than Vernon Carey, the freshmen haven’t come along as expected, but this team managed to go 25-6 overall and 15-5 in ACC play despite Coach K’s frustrations.
The Blue Devils still have a higher ceiling than any other team in the conference due to the talent on the roster. Carey has been fantastic, averaging 17.8 points and 8.8 rebounds per game while shooting 57.7 percent from the floor, and Tre Jones has done his best to fill the void on offense. Jones is still the best perimeter defender in the nation, shutting down the opposition’s best guard on most nights, and these two could be enough to carry the Blue Devils to an ACC title. If Cassius Stanley or Matthew Hurt can take the next step over the coming week, that will give Duke’s title hopes a significant boost.
Duke will face either North Carolina State or the winner of Wake Forest and Pittsburgh on Thursday, March 12. The Blue Devils will be favored against whoever they face, and they like their chances against Florida State after topping the Seminoles in the regular season.
Leonard Hamilton has done an excellent job coaching Florida State this season. Hamilton led the Seminoles to their first ACC regular season title in program history, and he is a contender to be named Coach of the Year. FSU has flourished despite not having the big men that have defined this program in the Hamilton era, as the Seminoles are instead led by three guards that each bring something unique to the table.
Devin Vassell is the best scorer of the bunch, averaging 12.7 points per game while sinking 41.5 percent of his threes. Trent Forrest is the main distributor (4.0 assists per game), and he is an excellent pickpocket with 1.9 steals per game. M.J. Walker is the closer of the trio, as he’s who the Seminoles continue to turn to late when they need a bucket.
Hamilton keeps his team fresh thanks to a deep bench, shown by the fact 10 different players are averaging at least 10 minutes per game. That will give the Seminoles an advantage in Greensboro, as they won’t wear down under the challenge of consecutive games as quickly as other teams.
Jordan Nwora was one of the top players in college basketball this season, and his play makes Louisville a contender for the conference title. Nwora is averaging 18.0 points and 7.7 rebounds per game, and he is draining over 40 percent of his threes to be one of the semifinalists for the Naismith Player of the Year award.
Louisville fell apart down the stretch, though, losing its last four road games to close out the regular season. The Cardinals lost to marginal teams like Georgia Tech and Clemson, and they couldn’t beat contenders FSU and Virginia either. That makes us bearish on the prospects of Louisville winning the ACC Tournament, especially since the Cardinals are likely facing the hottest team in the conference in the semifinals.
The defending national champions have shifted into another gear. Virginia won its last eight games to move off the bubble and punch a return trip to the NCAA Tournament, and its Pack Line Defense has been excellent over the past month. The Cavaliers have not allowed more than 65 points in any of their victories, and they completely shut down dynamic offenses like Duke and Louisville.
This is once again the best defense in the country entering the postseason, and that is reason to believe in the Wahoos. Mamadi Diakite is playing superb basketball lately, dominating in the low post to give UVA easy buckets. The Cavaliers are live in this tournament, and they shouldn’t have any trouble against either Notre Dame or Boston College in the quarterfinals.
Despite finishing in the cellar of the ACC, there are still some people that believe in North Carolina. The Tar Heels have the fifth-lowest odds to win the conference tournament as a No. 14 seed, but they would have to win five games in five days to claim the title. That’s simply too much of an undertaking for any team, much less a team that went 6-14 in conference play during the regular season.