Arguably the most disappointing of the Power 6 conferences, we have seen the blue bloods not perform to expectations, and teams like Florida St. and Virginia not take the next step to reaching elite status. In this tournament, the top 4 seeds get double byes, while the whole conference makes the tournament. This tournament is most important for Louisville and Syracuse, who are on the bubble. The Dookies are in a win-and-in scenario here.
For most of the year, my favorite team in this conference has been Georgia Tech (+750), and just to brag, I have a 20/1 future on them to win this tournament. Florida St (+250) and Virginia (+250) are the favorites. I am very low on the Cavaliers, while I struggle to understand how a team so long and athletic could struggle on the defensive end, all the while having an elite coach who prides himself on the defensive end. Florida St has the highest remaining ceiling in this conference, and will present interesting matchups should they get far enough to challenge the elite teams in the NCAA Tournament. Virginia Tech (+700) has had its moments in the sun, but they have been brutalized recently by a long COVID layoff. North Carolina (+600), Louisville (+1200), and Syracuse (+2000) have dealt with lineup inconsistency and injury most of the year that have led to struggles throughout the year. The Orange and the Tar Heels have turned a corner recently and seem to be peaking at the right time heading to the postseason.
Kings of the Conference: Florida St
Florida State goes 12 deep and has outstanding length. With every rotation player standing 6’4” or taller, it provides a challenge that most teams don’t have the personnel to overcome. FSU has been consistent throughout the year and only have one loss at home (to UCF), but as of late they’ve had some woes on the road. They finished ACC play 11-4, with all four losses coming on the road — three in the last three weeks. When they’re at their best, nobody in this conference can beat them, and very few teams in the country can stand up to them. But it’s a matter of which FSU team shows up in Greensboro – the one that beat UVA by 21 or the one who no-showed in Notre Dame last Saturday with a chance to win the ACC.
Potential Killers: Georgia Tech, Syracuse
What’s March without Syracuse on the bubble? Syracuse, Georgia Tech, Louisville and Duke all find themselves squarely on the bubble. But of those four, with the way Georgia Tech and Syracuse have been playing in the last few games, they provide the most trouble for higher seeds. Georgia Tech is a veteran laden team led by Jose Alvarado and Moses Wright. Since ACC play began, they have been a top 20 team in the country based on the metric sites like Torvik and Kenpom. The reason they still are on the bubble is because of some horrid early season losses to Mercer and Georgia State. They already own wins over FSU, Clemson, UNC, Va Tech and have lost to Virginia by just 2, so they won’t be afraid of the competition. My only worry is their depth, but securing the double bye could go a long way for this team.
Syracuse on the other hand, has some work left to do just to make the tournament. They should take care of NC State round 1, which would lead them to Virginia round 2. As mentioned earlier, this isn’t the same UVA defense we see year in and year out. Syracuse has shooters all over the court and if Boeheim gets hot he can erupt in a hurry. UVA also doesn’t shoot the 3 at an excellent clip so Syracuse stylistically matches up well with the Cavaliers. I don’t see a ton of value on the Cuse at 20-1 because their path will be very hard to the championship game but I do think they can make some noise and take down Virginia.
Overrated: Virginia, Virginia Tech
Underrated: UNC, Georgia Tech
Worth a bet? Looking at the bracket, I think Georgia Tech +750 and UNC +750 (if you can get it) are worth small bets. UNC will have a game against ND or Wake followed by Virginia Tech then potentially FSU. I think Virginia Tech has some holes and is offensively challenged at times and UNC matches up well. We have also seen them go toe to toe with FSU twice splitting the meetings, so getting a 7.5-1 seems great for two opponents they have/should have success against leading up to the finals. Road for Georgia Tech is likely Clemson, UVA, then championship – should they get there. They split meetings with Clemson, and held leads against UVA for over 50 of 80 minutes played against UVA, despite going 0-2. If they can conquer their late game demons they should have a realistic chance at getting to the championship.