ACC Tournament Favorites, Dark Horses and Prediction

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Last season the Virginia Cavaliers won the ACC tournament. This season the Cavaliers won the regular season title and come in as one of the favorites to win the ACC tournament, which starts Tuesday in Greensboro. Many questions remain unanswered heading into the tournament. Virginia lost its last regular season game to Louisville, while Duke has played exceptionally well since losing two straight earlier in the season. Miami is looking for at least two wins to assure themselves of a spot in the NCAA tournament.

Favorites:

Duke

Virginia will be the No. 1 seed, but Duke heading into the tournament is the team to beat. With Tyus Jones running the show and Jahlil Okafor the sensational freshman center, the Blue Devils look tough to beat. Duke can be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament with a victory in the ACC tournament. The only concern with the Blue Devils is they are just 8 deep.

Virginia

Virginia has the best defense in the nation with the exception of Kentucky with clutch offense that has kept them in the top 5 all season.

Louisville

The Cardinals must be given credit as they lost starting point guard Chris Jones but have not let up. Montrezl Harrell is able to take control of games, while Terry Rozier is great with the game on the line.

Notre Dame

The Irish have not received that much attention since losing to Duke last month, but with Jerian Grant, a great player no one talks about and Pat Connaughton the Irish can win the big games. Bonzie Colson has come on of late down low and at the wing making them even more dangerous on the offensive end.

Dark horses:

North Carolina, North Carolina State and Miami

Most on the Line:

Miami needs at least two wins to have a good shot at making the NCAA tournament field. NC State should make it as long as they are not routed in a game in this tournament. Both Duke and UVA are playing for possible No. 1 regional seeds, though both could get one.

Missing:

The Syracuse Orange are gone due to a self imposed ban for the postseason even prior to the harsh penalties set down last week by the NCAA. The 2-3 suffocating zone will not be missed, but the talented Jim Boeheim on the Orange bench will be.

Look for Duke, Virginia, Notre Dame and Louisville to reach the semifinals with Duke and Virginia playing in the finals.

Final:

Duke 69-63

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Duke Visits North Carolina in ACC Showdown

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The college basketball regular season is coming to a close and that means each game is vitally important. Tonight, one of the biggest rivalries of the past 20 seasons takes place in Chapel Hill when the North Carolina Tar Heels host the Duke Blue Devils in an ACC showdown.

The first time the two met this season, the game lived up to its billing and more. No. 3 ranked Duke on the season is 27-3 SU and 16-13-1 ATS. No. 19 ranked North Carolina is 21-9 SU and 16-13-1 ATS.

The current line has North Carolina favored by 1 point with the point total on 156.5.

On February 18, Duke rallied from a deficit of 10 points late in the game to send the game to overtime at home versus UNC. In OT, the Blue Devils pulled out the game 92-90.

Senior Quinn Cook and freshman Tyus Jones scored 22 points each in the game. Brice Johnson scored 18 points and grabbed 12 boards for the Tar Heels, while teammate Kennedy Meeks scored 18. UNC easily covered as an 8.5-point visiting dog.

That extended the trend in this series of the visiting team covering. The away team is 12-4 ATS over the past 16 games between the two teams.

Both teams were dominant in their last games played. UNC routed Georgia Tech by 32 points on Tuesday and is 4-1 ATS in its past 5 games overall.

Duke defeated Wake Forest by 43 points on Wednesday. In its past 10 games played, Duke is 10-0 SU and 6-4 ATS.

UNC has won three straight at home over Duke. Last season, UNC rallied to defeat Duke at home 74-66. However, since 1998-99, UNC at home is 6-10 SU against Duke.

Duke will be the No. 2 seed in next week’s ACC Tournament, while the Tar Heels are tied with Louisville and UNC can only keep the fourth seed if Louisville loses.

Duke should be a No. 1 seed in one of the four regions in the NCAA Tournament, while it is thought North Carolina will be a No. 5 or 6 seed.

The UNDER has cashed in 6 of the past 7 games between the two teams in Chapel Hill. UNC has covered the number in just 1 of its past 8 games played at home.

There is not much difference between these two teams. A short number on UNC would be a good pick, while the OVER looks even better.

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Pac-12 and Big 10 Highlight Sunday College Basketball …

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The Big Ten and Pac-12 will highlight action Sunday in college basketball. The month of March begins today and that means the NCAA tournament and March Madness cannot be far away.

Nevertheless, teams are battling for position in their respective conferences preparing for the start of their conference tournament in less than 2 weeks.

Out west, the Oregon Ducks visit the Stanford Cardinal, while the Purdue Boilermakers visit the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Oregon followed its huge upset of Utah 69-58 last Sunday as a home dog by 4.5 points, with an important 80-69 win over California as a road dog of 2 points this past Wednesday.

The Ducks are 7-1 straight up and 6-2 against the spread in their past eight games overall.

Stanford routed Oregon State by 27 points on Thursday as a home favorite of 9 points. However, the Cardinal is only 3-4 SU and 2-5 ATS in its past 7 games played.

Oregon is 4-1 ATS over its past five games after a win SU. The Ducks have covered 6 of their past 8 games on Sunday.

Sanford is 1-5 ATS in its past 6 games played on Sunday. The Cardinal is 6-3-1 ATS in its past 10 games played at home.

The visiting team is 5-3 SU and ATS in this matchup over the past 8 games.

Purdue visits Ohio State on Sunday as an underdog of 9.5 points. The Boilermakers have made some noise of late at 8-1 SU and ATS in its past 9 games overall. On Thursday, the Boilermakers defeated Rutgers 92-85, but failed to cover as a home favorite of 14 points.

All five Purdue starters scored 10 points or more in the win over Rutgers.

Ohio State has had a few problems down the stretch with a 3-3 SU and ATS record of its past 6 games played. However, they look strong in a rout of Nebraska 81-57 on Tuesday as a favorite at home by 13.5 points.

Purdue is 17-5 ATS over its past 22 games versus an opponent with a winning straight up record and is 6-1 ATS over its past 7 games following a win SU.

Ohio State has covered the spread in its past 6 games played at home but is 4-9 ATS over its past 13 games after a win ATS.

Head to head, the team at home is 7-2 SU over the past 9 games played. Ohio State is 4-2 ATS over the past 6 games between the two teams.

Purdue defeated Ohio State 60-58 SU and ATS as a favorite by 1.5 points.

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No NBA? No NHL? No Problem!

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George

Indiana's Paul George is my guy in the NBA's Slam Dunk Contest

There’s a really good chance that if you reading this that you are probably a sports fan. There’s also a good chance that you like to wager an occasional buck or two on sports. Lastly, there’s a really good chance you know that there are no NBA or NHL games to wager on this evening.

The National Basketball Association is on their All-Star Break down in New Orleans while the National Hockey League has suspended play so that many of its stars can participate in the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.

You’re probably asking the question, “Why not go with some college basketball games?” That’s a really fair question except for the fact that the only game worth wagering is Arizona at Arizona State. If you’re dying to know my thoughts on that one read on.

Otherwise, for now you’re stuck with my picks for the winners of All-Star Weekend in the NBA.

Rising Stars Challenge

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Portland's Damian Lillard will have a hand in just about everything during All-Star weekend.

This one features Coaches Grant Hill and Chris Webber coaching up the best first and second year players in the league. What you need to know is that like the actual All-Star game, little defense is played.

Despite Damian Lillard leading Team Hill, I’m going with Team Webber behind Anthony Davis, Trey Burke and Jared Sullinger.

Skills Challenge

Defending Champ Damian Lillard returns as does DeMar DeRozan. Lillard will be teamed with rookie Trey Burke to comprise Team One of the Western Conference and Team Two is comprised of Goran Dragic and Reggie Jackson.

DeRozan is joined on Team One of the East by Giannis Antetokounmpo of Milwaukee while Team Two is Michael Carter-Williams and Victor Oladipo.

Lillard is the overwhelming favorite but I’m taking the rookie Trey Burke in this competition.

Three-Point Contest

Kyrie Irving returns to defend his title from last season and has three other Eastern Conference competitors with him. Bradley Beal, Arron Afflalo and Joe Johnson throw their hats into the ring represent their conference.

In the West, 2012 champion Kevin Love looks to get back in the winner’s circle. He is joined by fellow Western Conference entrants Marco Belinelli, Stephen Curry and Damian Lillard.

Look for an Irving-Curry final with Curry pulling out the victory.

Slam Dunk Contest

Your Eastern Conference dunkers are Paul George, Terrence Ross and John Wall while the three players from the Western Conference are Harrison Barnes, Damian Lillard and Ben McLemore.

I kind of feel guilty that I don’t have Lillard winning anything to this point because he’s the only player in every event and deserves huge props for that. I believe you are going to see some very athletic dunks from this crew but don’t expect LeBron-esque style off the wall dunks because the arena just doesn’t allow for that.

I really like Indiana’s Paul George to win the dunk contest this year.

And now for Arizona at Arizona State….

When these two in-state rivals met in mid-January, the Wildcats took the Sun Devils out behind the woodshed. Arizona beat ASU 91-68 and left little doubt as to who the better college basketball team was in the state of Arizona.

Since that loss, the Sun Devils have gone on to win five of six with their one loss being a six-point loss at Stanford. Arizona State scores the basketball very well, but the Wildcats play pretty good defense too.

This will not be the blowout the first meeting was but I do expect a very close Wildcats’ victory.

 

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