Today it begins.
Three games in the ACC Tournament are on tap, with Pitt playing Miami at 2, it's Duke versus Boston College at 4:30, and Notre Dame against Wake Forest at 7:30. All three games are on the ACC Network, meaning a heck of a lot of basketball fans who get their cable television from Comcast won't be watching.
None of these games are very compelling, so I decided to take a look at the betting odds to see which ones may be closer than I think. In the the course of doing this, it became apparent as to which team to pull against.
Starts with a "D", ends with an "e." Likes the color blue.
According to BetMGM, and posted in a story today in the Athletic, Virginia is the top favorite at 5-2. The Cavaliers should be, as they are the top seed and until someone tells me otherwise, have the last national championship trophy awarded sitting somewhere inside John Paul Jones Arena. Florida State is barely behind the Cavaliers at 11-4, and that’s understandable too, since they led the league down the stretch, and hammered Virginia in the last game between the two teams before laying an egg the size of Plymouth Rock against Notre Dame in the regular-season finale.
Virginia Tech and Louisville are both 7-1 favorites, and that seems fair too, considering how they finished the season.
But then you scroll down to Duke. They are 20-1 favorites.
Excuse me sir, you must be new here. You’re playing in the first-round play-in games on a Tuesday. You finished in 10th place in a 15-team league. Your odds should be 1000 to 1, as no one wins 5 games in 5 days in a tournament. Plus it’s not like Duke didn’t earn that appearance on day 1, either. Duke doesn’t even have a winning record, finishing the regular season at 11-11. The Blue Devils lost their last three games in a row to finish the regular slate, including a 91-73 thrashing at the hands of North Carolina.
But Duke is only a 20-1 favorite to win the entire thing? Georgia Tech, which comes into the tournament as the No. 4 seed and has won six in a row, is rated a 16-1 favorite. Their odds are virtually the same, despite two teams that certainly seem to be going in two different directions. North Carolina State, with a 13-9 record, a 5-game winning streak and a win over top seed Virginia during that streak, is a 100-1 favorite.
Explain to me again how Duke is a 20-1 favorite?
I guess this is why you get Zion-cams like Virginia Tech endured a few years ago, where half the screen was focused on a Duke player who wasn’t even participating in the game, while the rest of us squinted, watching the other half to see how the game was actually going. The love for Duke is sometimes so over the top, I wonder if they’d give 20-1 odds for a ham sandwich if it were wearing a Blue Devil jersey.
North Carolina got similar love by the oddsmakers, as despite being the No. 7 seed, they were given the third-best odds at 11-2. But the Tar Heels at least were 16-9, and despite only going 2-2 in their final 4 games, the two wins were over Florida State and Duke. With their size and playing in their home state at the Greensboro Coliseum, they have as good a chance as any.
As rooting guides go, I’ll confess my bias by admitting I’d like to see Virginia and Virginia Tech in the finals. You don’t have to ask who I’d like to see win the whole thing, nor do you have to ask who Doug Doughty who he'd like to see win. That's pretty obvious, I believe, so we’ll just leave it as the best deal would be a Hokie-Cavalier final.
If that happens, this will be a tough time for the tobacco road crowd. For the first time in however long I can remember, there is no North Carolina team among the top 4 seeds. UNC and Duke are usually both in that crowd, but at least one of them seems to have been there since God created the color baby blue. With Virginia, Virginia Tech, Florida State and Georgia Tech in the top 4, that streak is over.
Worst yet for Tar Heel state fans with long memories, none are from the Original 7 teams that formed the conference. The charter members were Clemson, Duke, Maryland, North Carolina, North Carolina State, South Carolina, and Wake Forest in June of 1953; Virginia joined as the 8th team in December of that year.
The other three are from a conference the ACC used to look down its nose at: The Metro Conference. Started in 1975, the Metro started with Cincinnati, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Memphis, St. Louis and Tulane. Florida State joined a year later, and two years after that, Virginia Tech replaced Georgia Tech when they left to become the 8th member of the ACC.
The tournament itself wasn’t even suppose to be in the state of North Carolina, instead being up here in D.C. But COVID forced it to be moved to Greensboro.
With all that aside, here’s your rooting guide: ABD. Anybody but Duke. There are media people wishing and hoping the Blue Devils into the NCAA Tournament despite not having a winning record, and unless you want to hear announcers for several days totally ignore facts and talk about the Blue Devils like they’re a serious contender, trust me. You want them gone as soon as possible to end this charade.
In the other two games, Pitt is the more physical team and will probably wear out Miami, but I don’t think either is getting past Clemson in the next round. Notre Dame should easily beat Wake Forest, and since the Irish barely lost to North Carolina 66-65 earlier in the season, they could push the Tar Heels in the next round. A Notre Dame upset or a situation where North Carolina comes into Thursday’s game with Virginia Tech tired and worn out, could be a good thing for the Hokies.
But that's Wednesday or Thursday. For now, the team that has to go is Duke. The sooner, the better 😊
I hope Bill Brill is seeing the standings! If so he is spinning in his grave. I still have an intense dislike for Mr. Brill and somewhere amongst my stuff a couple of I Beat Brill T- shirts and bumper stickers. ABD
I was fortunate enough to work for Bill Brill for three years. Yes, he didn't like Virginia Tech, and he wasn't transparent about it at all. Yes, he loved Duke and the ACC and wasn't transparent about that at all either.
But I learned a lot from Bill. He was a serious journalist at a time when that meant something much different from what it means today. I consider myself lucky to have had a mentor like that. Plus for all his dislike of Hokies, he did hire this one