With two weeks of action already in the books for conference play in men’s college basketball, we have already gotten an early picture as to which teams are on track to secure not only the regular-season title but the No.1 seed for their particular end-of-the-season conference tournament. Sportsbook.ag released its futures odds for all the major conference’s regular- season title at the beginning of the New Year. This week we are going to take a look at which teams are in the running for top honors in the ACC.
Before conference play began in the ACC, the Duke Blue Devils were a prohibitive -110 favorite to win the regular-season title. They streaked to the top of every major college basketball poll through the first two months of the season and quickly established themselves as an early front-runner for this season’s national title. Now ranked No.3 in the most recent AP Poll, Duke is still the team to beat in the ACC. However, that gap may not be as wide as it once was after a stunning 84-76 loss to North Carolina State this past Saturday as a one-point favorite on the road. Nobody expected the Blue Devils to go undefeated, so this loss is not a complete shock. However, it did serve to finally tighten up the race for the No.1 seed in the conference.
The North Carolina State Wolfpack were originally listed as second-favorites to win the ACC regular-season title at +400, and Saturday’s victory simply confirmed the fact that they are legitimate contenders to actually give the Blue Devils a run for their money. The win over Duke pushed their conference record to 3-0 with previous wins over Boston College and Georgia Tech. While there is still a long way to go, any time you have a team that is ranked eighth in Division I in scoring with an average of 81.5 points a game to go along with the top shooting percentage in the nation at 52.8 percent, you have the makings of a very good team. No.14 NC State has been able to establish tremendous balance throughout its lineup with six different players averaging 10 points or more points a game.
The Miami Hurricanes are currently not ranked in the Top 25, but they have backed up their +500 odds to win the ACC’s top seed this season with a 3-0 start in conference play. The Hurricanes were tagged with a pair of sloppy losses to Florida Gulf Coast and Indiana State earlier in the season, but they are starting to play themselves into form with quality victories over North Carolina and Maryland in conference play. Miami is shooting only 44.5 percent from the field and averaging 67.8 points a game, but its defense has been stellar so far. The Hurricanes are allowing just 58.4 points a game while holding teams to shooting just 37.2 percent from the floor.
The fourth-favorite to win the ACC regular-season title this year at +600 is the North Carolina Tar Heels. It has been a rough start to not only the season at 11-5, but conference play as well with losses to Virginia and the Hurricanes in their first three ACC games. While their current form leaves much to be desired, this is a team that you should never forget about, as they can turn things around at a drop of a dime. They continue to go through some growing pains with a very youthful roster, but the Tar Heels are still putting up 79.7 points while pulling down 43.2 rebounds a game, which happens to be the third-highest total in the nation.
With a number of quality teams already ahead of them in both the rankings and the standings, it could be a tall task for the Maryland Terrapins to mount a charge to the top of the ACC. However, at +800 there is some value in their odds as moderate longshots. They will have to quickly rebound from a 1-2 start in conference play, but overall the Terrapins have shown the ability to win with a 13-3 start that includes a victory over Northwestern as five-point road underdogs. The team as a whole is averaging 74.8 points a game and shooting 48.3 percent from the field. We will know a lot more about Maryland shortly with a game this Wednesday on the road against NC State and trip to Durham to face Duke on Jan.26.
By Dave Schwab of Doc's Sports