NCAA March Madness betting: Despite recent struggles, Florida State is the team to beat in ACC tournament

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Conference tournament betting previews: Big East

Welcome to championship week.

While many low and mid-major conferences have already begun (or even completed) their tournaments, the marquee leagues — the ones that produce the most NCAA tournament bids — have their tournaments beginning in the coming days.

The first major conference on tap is the ACC, beginning on Tuesday in Greensboro, North Carolina. The tournament’s top seed is Virginia. The Cavaliers, still technically the reigning national champions after the 2020 tournament was canceled, won the ACC regular season title over the weekend courtesy of a win over Louisville and Florida State’s surprising loss at Notre Dame.

The Seminoles have looked like the conference’s top team for much of the season, but are entering the conference tournament having lost two of three. Still, FSU, along with Virginia, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech, have earned double-byes as the tournament’s top four seeds. And what about blue bloods like North Carolina and Duke?

But are those the teams you want to bet on? Using the odds provided by BetMGM, here are the teams you’ll want to consider — and avoid — this week.

Best bet: Florida State +275

Don’t let the last week of action fool you. Florida State is the best team in the ACC. Before the Seminoles’ two slip-ups this week, they had won nine of their previous 10 games.

The Seminoles are the top scoring team in the league, putting up nearly 80 points per contest. And they do it with a balanced attack with a mix of experienced options like M.J. Walker and RaiQuan Gray and underclassmen like Scottie Barnes and Balsa Koprivica. FSU is really deep, too. The Seminoles have nine players averaging at least 15 minutes per game.

FSU has struggled when playing outside of Tallahassee this season, but Leonard Hamilton’s team should be plenty motivated to make a run after letting the ACC regular season title slip through its fingers. The Seminoles have the size and shooting to match up with anybody in the conference, and especially have a favorable matchup against Virginia. FSU dominated the Cavaliers 81-60 back on Feb. 15.

At +275 odds, the Seminoles are a strong play.

Team to avoid: Duke +2000

You may be tempted to bet on perennial power Duke when it has such long odds, but the odds are what they are for a reason. This team isn’t very good.

The Blue Devils enter the ACC tournament as the No. 10 seed and in a very unfamiliar position: on the outside looking in for the majority of NCAA tournament projections. Duke has the ACC’s leading scorer in Matthew Hurt and plenty of other top-tier recruits, but this team has been extremely streaky all year.

It looked like the Blue Devils could be turning a corner when they won four straight in February, but they closed out the season with three consecutive losses. Two of those games ended in overtime, but Duke closed out the regular season with a blowout loss to rival North Carolina, 91-73.

At this point, it could take a run all the way to the ACC title game for Duke to reach the NCAA tournament. That would mean four games in four days. You’re better off spending your money elsewhere.

Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski reacts after a turnover during an NCAA college basketball game against Notre Dame on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020, in South Bend, Ind. Duke won 75-65. (AP Photo/Robert Franklin)
Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski reacts after a turnover during an NCAA college basketball game against Notre Dame on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020, in South Bend, Ind. Duke won 75-65. (AP Photo/Robert Franklin)

Sleeper: Georgia Tech +1600

Georgia Tech is entering the conference tournament on a roll. The Yellow Jackets have won six consecutive games, locking up a double-bye in the process. The most impressive win of that bunch was a 16-point road victory over then-No. 16 Virginia Tech.

Georgia Tech is an experienced team with four double-digit scorers, including ACC Player of the Year Moses Wright and ACC Defensive Player of the Year Jose Alvarado. Both Wright and Alvarado are seniors on the verge of playing in the NCAA tournament for the first time.

They are also looking to make noise in the conference tournament. And with odds of +1600, the Yellow Jackets are definitely worth a flier. That’s great value. Georgia Tech has the sixth-best odds, well behind teams like North Carolina (+550), Louisville (+700) and Virginia Tech (+700). And GT only needs to win three games to win the conference crown.

Barring any unforeseen upsets, Georgia Tech would face Virginia in the ACC semifinals. The Yellow Jackets have lost twice to Virginia this season, but lost those games by a combined 10 points. Virginia is a team prone to scoring droughts, and Georgia Tech has the personnel to pull off an upset should the two teams meet for a third time in 2021.

Full ACC tournament odds via BetMGM

  • Virginia +250

  • Florida State +275

  • North Carolina: +550

  • Louisville: +700

  • Virginia Tech: +700

  • Georgia Tech: +1600

  • Duke: +2000

  • Clemson: +2000

  • Syracuse: +5000

  • Pittsburgh: +5000

  • Notre Dame: +10000

  • NC State: +10000

  • Miami: +15000

  • Boston College: +25000

  • Wake Forest: +25000

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