2020 ACC Tournament Betting Preview: Odds, Predictions & Picks
College basketball’s conference tournament season is underway! On Tuesday, the ACC Tournament tips off as North Carolina tries to earn a 2020 NCAA Tournament bid by running the table in Greensboro, NC. What ACC Tournament bets have value at online sports betting sites?
2020 ACC Tournament Betting Odds
2020 ACC Tournament Format
The ACC Tournament is held at Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, NC. It starts today, March 10, and wraps up with the championship game on Saturday March 14. There are five rounds in the tournament, with six teams getting first-round byes and the top four teams getting double byes.
This format affects our odds significantly. The longshots who play in the first round have to win five games to take home the title, while the top four seeds only need to win three. It’s one of the most enjoyable tournaments to watch every year, and anything can happen when you cram 13 games into a 5 day stretch.
I’m going to make this part easy. The four teams playing in the first round all have less than a 1% chance to win this tournament. Winning five straight games when you’re already one of the worst teams in the conference is just very unlikely. If you don’t believe me, grab a die and try to roll a 6 five straight times. Statistically we just can’t expect this to happen.
The only team you could try to make a case for here is the North Carolina Tar Heels, who seem to have figured things out after an extremely slow start to the season. UNC has the talent to be a top team in the ACC but they struggled to come together as a team until the last month of the season. Even still, their line is +2300 to win five straight games. They’d need to win 5% of the time to pay off that line. So, as much as I like a good narrative, I just can’t bet on this team from a statistical perspective.
Note: If you like North Carolina, sign up at DraftKings Sportsbook to bet on them at +3000 to win the 2020 ACC Tournament.
The Middle of the Pack
Things get slightly more interesting when we look at the teams who have a first round bye, but the story winds up being pretty similar. These teams still need to win four straight games, and with how top-heavy the ACC is this year it seems even less likely that one of these middle-tier teams could win it all.
The only teams worth considering are Notre Dame, NC State, and Syracuse, who all have around a 1-2% chance to be crowned ACC Champs when looking at BPI. You’d need at least a +5000 line for any of these schools to be considered value plays, so they’re not necessarily smart plays, but I am completely OK with taking a flyer on one of them if you’re a fan or you can picture the storyline in your head.
The Top Four
Here’s where we can find our value in the ACC Tournament. The top four teams in the conference get double byes and only need to win three games to call themselves ACC Champions. It’s a huge advantage from both a statistical perspective and a fatigue perspective, so these are the teams I’m most comfortable trusting with my money.
The Florida State Seminoles +200
If you’ve watched Florida State this year you know they can play with absolutely anybody in college basketball. They’re long, they’re experienced, they’re well coached, and they’re just flat-out good at playing basketball. They’re a rare team in the fact that everybody contributes equally and they don’t rely on any one guy to do too much. That can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how you look at it, but it’s a relevant detail to know they don’t have a go-to guy.
Unfortunately for the Seminoles, they got a rough draw in this year’s tournament as they’ll most likely see Duke in the second round. This team should take care of business against whoever they see in their first matchup (77% chance to win), but then things get a little tougher. If they see Duke in the semifinals, which they most likely will, BPI will only give them about a 30% chance to win.
If they get to the championship, they’ll have about a 50% chance to win it, but this line is too low at +200 for a team that only has a 28% chance to make the championship. If you want to bet on Florida State, I’d just wait until after they play Duke.
The Duke Blue Devils +250
I’ll start off by saying I’m a lifelong Duke hater, so this entire section is going to be physically painful for me to type, but I have to listen to the data. Duke is the best bet to win this tournament by a wide margin. They’re the best team in the ACC (if not the best team in college basketball) and they’re just not getting the love they deserve.
I’ll start with the team itself. Led by ACC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year Tre Jones, Duke went 15-5 in conference play this year. The sophomore guard is a leader on offense and defense and looks like a seasoned vet with the ball in his hands. Then there’s the 6’10” freshman center Vernon Carey (17.8 ppg, 8.8 rpg), who has been sensational this year, and 6’6” freshman guard Cassius Stanley who appears to be hitting his stride at the right time. From a talent perspective, I don’t think you’ll find a better team than the Blue Devils.
From a data standpoint, Duke is even better than they look on the court. According to BPI, they will have an 80+% chance to win their first round matchup against either NC State, Pitt, or Wake Forest, and then a 70% chance to win each of their next two games regardless of who they play. Based on some quick calculations, I see a 43% chance Duke wins this tournament. They’d only need a +132 line to pay off at that winning percentage, and FanDuel Sportsbook has them available at +250. There is undeniable value here.
The Louisville Cardinals +300
Louisville is another interesting team in this tournament. Led by junior forward Jordan Nwora, the Cardinals looked unstoppable at times this year and will undoubtedly be a tough out in this tournament. BPI has them as the second-best team in this tournament behind Duke and gives them about a 30% chance to be crowned ACC Champs. They’d only need a +240 line to pay off those odds, so Louisville is another value bet if you’re into that sort of thing.
The Virginia Cavaliers +750
The defending champs are boring as hell, so I’ll keep this short and sweet. They have a 63% chance to win their first game, a 36% chance to win their second game, and a 38% chance to win their third game. That gives them an 8.4% chance to win the tournament. They’d need a +1100 line to pay off those chances, so UVA just isn’t doing it for me here.
2020 ACC Tournament Betting Picks
I made my first and main pick very obvious. I am cringing while writing this, but I think Duke is by far the best bet to win this tournament at +250. My second pick is all about feel and completely disregards the data. This is a team that is always a threat to make some noise in March Madness and a team that I have watched a decent amount this year, the Syracuse Orange.
Jimmy Boeheim is going to have these boys ready to play in this tournament and there is no doubt that they can beat any team on any day. The Syracuse zone is always tough and this team has enough offensive talent between Elijah Hughes, Buddy Boeheim, and Joe Girard III that I can absolutely see them making a run. It’s definitely not a likely scenario, but I’ll be sprinkling a little bit on the Orange to take this thing home.
The Picks: Duke +250 and Syracuse +3500
Check out more NCAA basketball betting tips as we inch closer to Selection Sunday.
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