This article is part of our College Basketball Picks series.
The ACC tournament officially tips off on Tuesday, and Steve Peralta returns to preview all of the action. Here are his best bets of the day.
Georgia Tech vs Florida State
Georgia Tech picked up the pace in February, winning six of its last eight games, although this record isn't as impressive as it sounds. None of the wins came against an ACC team with a winning conference record, and one of the wins was against Florida Tech, a DII team. Only a month ago, the Yellow Jackets endured a nine-game losing streak, which included losses to Florida State, Notre Dame and Louisville -- the teams that finished at the bottom of the conference standings (in addition to Georgia Tech). The Yellow Jackets struggled for most of the year due to major scoring issues. Georgia Tech posted the second-worst offensive efficiency rating among ACC teams during conference play, including the lowest two-point field goal percentage, lowest free-throw percentage, and lowest free-throw attempt rate. The Yellow Jackets also turned the ball over a good amount against conference foes, recording the fourth-worst offensive turnover percentage in the ACC. This likely spells trouble against Florida State, which doesn't have great defensive efficiency numbers but does know how to generate turnovers, forcing the sixth-highest defensive turnover percentage in the ACC since the conference season started.
Florida State, in contrast, ended the season on a down note. The wins were few and far between, although it's worth noting that Florida State's recent schedule was more difficult than Georgia Tech's. Despite the lack of wins, the Seminoles still flashed the potential of being a decent team on a few occasions, the most recent being on February 24 when the Seminoles pulled off a big upset win at Miami. Florida State also won at Pittsburgh on January 21, giving the Seminoles two road victories against two of the top four teams in the ACC standings. Florida State is also much better than Georgia Tech when it comes to scoring. The Seminoles rank higher in the efficiency department, but they also have a crucial advantage inside the paint as well. During league competition, Florida State made 51 percent of shots inside the arc, the eighth-highest percentage in the conference, while Georgia Tech's defense allowed ACC opponents to make over 54 percent of two-point field goals, the second-highest percentage allowed in the league.
Ultimately, Georgia Tech might've been slightly better when it comes to overall efficiency numbers over the course of the entire season, but Florida State has a higher ceiling. The Seminoles have two Quad 1 wins this season, while Georgia Tech has zero. Florida State is much better offensively, and while its defense isn't stout, it knows how to cause havoc and generate turnovers. Florida State already defeated Georgia Tech once this season, so there's no reason to think they won't beat them again. I'm taking the Seminoles in this matchup.
College Basketball Best Bet: Florida State +2.5
Louisville vs Boston College
Louisville fell to an unimaginable depth this season. The Cardinals were effectively the worst major conference team in D1 basketball from beginning to end. Louisville recorded the worst offensive and defensive efficiency ratings in the ACC, both before and during the conference season, giving us a team that never really improved. Considering the numbers, it's not a surprise to see that Louisville ranks No. 311 in the NCAA NET rankings, the lowest-ranked major conference team in the country.
Boston College, on the other hand, didn't have a good year by any stretch of the imagination, but it still put up a fight throughout the season. The Eagles won nine total conference games, and in the process, they swept Virginia Tech, defeated Virginia by 15 points, and won at Wake Forest. Boston College found success thanks mostly to its defense, recording the seventh-highest efficiency rating among all ACC teams, per KenPom. The Eagles don't give up easy points, either, holding conference foes to 50 percent on shots inside the arc, the sixth-lowest two-point field goal percentage allowed in the ACC. Additionally, as one might guess, Louisville is among the worst teams in the country when it comes to turning the ball over, ranking No. 352 in offensive turnover percentage. This is bad news against any opponent, although it's even worse against Boston College, which had the fourth-highest defensive turnover rate in the ACC during conference play.
Boston College previously defeated Louisville by double digits in the first matchup this season, and the Cardinals actually shot the ball well in that game, making 9-of-18 shots from behind the arc. Despite the great shooting numbers, Louisville still couldn't come close to pulling off an upset. Louisville lost 15 of 20 conference games by eight-plus points this season, and I'm betting we'll add another tally to that stat after Tuesday's game concludes. Anything can happen in one game, but this Cardinal squad has been in rough shape on both ends of the court all season long. Looking at the bottom line, it's hard to imagine Louisville extending its season. I'm backing the Eagles in this one.
College Basketball Best Bet: Boston College -6
Notre Dame vs Virginia Tech
There's no way to sugarcoat it, Notre Dame had a pretty lousy season. On the bright side, the Fighting Irish do a couple of things well offensively that should give them a puncher's chance against Virginia Tech. First, Notre Dame seldom commits turnovers, posting the third-best offensive turnover percentage in the country, per KenPom. Second, the Fighting Irish have several good shooters in their lineup, making 36 percent of shots from behind the arc and over 76 percent from the charity stripe, both stats ranking in the top 25 percent among all D1 teams. Additionally, both coaches involved in today's match have historically preferred playing at a much slower tempo. With both teams inclined to play a methodical, half-court style, we can naturally expect this game to see fewer possessions than a typical matchup.
Virginia Tech, meanwhile, looked like a shoo-in for the Big Dance during the non-conference portion of the schedule, but it all fell apart against the ACC. The Hokies lost seven straight games at one point, and then later lost to Georgia Tech, making it difficult to trust them despite collecting a few noteworthy wins throughout the season. Virginia Tech's inconsistency mainly stemmed from its defense, which ranked No. 123 on KenPom's adjusted efficiency chart. And considering Notre Dame's strength lies in its offensive abilities, the Fighting Irish should be able to take advantage.
Additionally, it might not have the wins to show for it, but Notre Dame has played better in recent weeks. Over the past month, the Fighting Irish lost by four or fewer points when playing at Duke, at Virginia, and hosting North Carolina, and they recently defeated Pittsburgh by seven points just under a week ago. It's certainly possible that Notre Dame's defense might let us down, but I'm betting the intensity will be turned up a notch now that this could be the team's final game of the season. I'm taking the points in this spot.
College Basketball Best Bet: Notre Dame +7
Tuesday College Basketball Best Bets:
Here's a recap of my best college basketball bets for Tuesday:
- Florida State +2.5
- Boston College -6
- Notre Dame +7
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