Duke, Not Virginia, Favored To Win ACC Tournament
If you need any more proof that the sportsbooks love Duke and probably overvalue the Blue Devils at times, just look at Bovada’s odds to win the ACC Tournament. Virginia is the top-seeded team and regular-season champion, but the Dukies are the 5/4 favorites with the Cavs next at 9/5. Certainly the fan support will be pro-Duke as the tournament is held in Greensboro, N.C.
Duke Is Hottest Team
Duke (28-3, 15-3), ranked No. 2 in the AP poll, did close the season strong, winning its final 11 games since a close loss at then-No. 8 Notre Dame on Jan. 28. That run includes a 69-63 win at Virginia on Jan 31. The Dukies also beat ranked North Carolina twice in that stretch, including 84-77 in Chapel Hill on Saturday. To no surprise, freshman big man Jahlil Okafor was named the ACC’s Player of the Year.
The ACC’s second-leading scorer with a 17.6-point average and field-goal percentage leader at 66 percent, Okafor is Duke’s leader in scoring, rebounding and shooting percentage. He is also in the race with Wisconsin senior Frank Kaminsky for national player of the year. Okafor has been bothered by a sprained left ankle of late.
Cavs Lost Momentum
Virginia (28-2, 16-2) closed the regular season with a 59-57 loss at Louisville. After Malcolm Brogdon hit his fourth 3-pointer of the second half to give Virginia a 57-56 lead with 13 second left, the Cardinals ran a play hoping to set up one of its two stars, guard Terry Rozier or forward Montrezl Harrell. But when Rozier was double-teamed he found Mangok Mathiang open at the free throw line for the winner and his only points of the game.
Brogdon and Syracuse senior forward Rakeem Christmas were selected as the ACC’s Co-Defensive Players of the Year in a vote of the league’s 15 head coaches. Brogdon has provided a main defensive component for a Virginia defense that has limited opponents to 50.3 points per game and .357 shooting from the floor. The 6-foot-5 Atlanta native has established himself as lockdown defender while coming up with 22 steals, 14 blocked shots and 105 defensive rebounds.
UVA doesn’t have the star power Duke does, but no team in the league better runs its system – love it or hate it – than the Cavaliers. The matchups favor Virginia, too. It will face Clemson or Florida State in its first game Thursday, and assuming it advances, likely then will play Louisville or North Carolina. Can Louisville beat Virginia twice in less than a week? Not likely. And the Tar Heels, who prefer a much faster pace, match up poorly with Virginia.
Cavs coach Tony Bennett says he’s hopeful Justin Anderson will be able to play in the ACC Tournament. Anderson missed Virginia’s last eight games of the regular season with a broken pinky finger on his shooting hand and then missed the regular season finale at Louisville after an emergency appendectomy last week. Anderson did some light shooting in practice on Monday but Bennett says Anderson is not in game shape, and more importantly Anderson has not been cleared by the doctors to play in a game.
Here’s the complete schedule. All times Eastern.
#12 Boston College vs. #13 Georgia Tech, 1 p.m.
#11 Wake Forest vs. #14 Virginia Tech, 3 p.m.
#8 Clemson vs. #9 Florida State, noon
#5 North Carolina vs. Boston College/Georgia Tech winner, 2 p.m.
#7 N.C. State vs. #10 Pittsburgh, 7 p.m.
#6 Miami vs. Wake Forest/Virginia Tech winner, 9 p.m.
#1 Virginia vs. Clemson/Florida State winner, noon
#4 Louisville vs. North Carolina/Boston College/Georgia Tech, 2 p.m.
#2 Duke vs. N.C. State/Pittsburgh winner, 7 p.m.
#3 Notre Dame vs. Miami/Wake Forest/Virginia Tech, 9 p.m.
Semifinals at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Championship game at 8:30 p.m.
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