ACC Tournament Preview: Everyone (Except GT) Is Still Alive to Dance



Using our EVTB predictive model, we calculated the odds of each team advancing through the ACC tournament. As you would expect, the teams with double bye are most likely to win, and teams playing today, like the Hokies, are hanging on by a thread. 

Team Round 2 Quarters Semifinals Finals Champion
Florida State 100% 100% 67% 34% 18%
Virginia 100% 100% 55% 25% 12%
Louisville 100% 100% 64% 35% 19%
Duke 100% 100% 64% 32% 20%
NC State 100% 64% 23% 15% 7%
Syracuse 100% 57% 21% 12% 5%
Notre Dame 100% 74% 33% 10% 5%
Clemson 100% 54% 18% 9% 4%
Miami (FL) 100% 46% 15% 8% 3%
Boston College 100% 26% 12% 6% 2%
Virginia Tech 52% 22% 8% 5% 2%
Wake Forest 47% 17% 6% 1% 1%
North Carolina 48% 21% 7% 3% 1%
Pittsburgh 53% 19% 7% 3% 1%
Georgia Tech 0% 0% 0% 0% 0%
* Columns may not sum to 100% due to rounding, GT out due to NCAA violations

First, I would like to note that this analysis will probably differ from other models you will see. We believe that the ACC is flatter this year, with any team capable of beating anyone, and that is reflected in the odds. With the lack of a dominant team, and the quantity of upsets this year, we believe the data backs up this assumption. Even with the struggles compared to expectations, the Blue Devils are still favored to win, followed closely by Louisville and Florida State. We still think that Florida State is in play for a #1 seed, with a tournament championship. Even though they ended hot with the #2 seed, the predictive models are still not hot to trot to UVA’s style of basketball. That said, UVA is one of the hottest teams in the nation, and will be dancing regardless of ACC tournament performance. As for the Hokies, they have a tough road this tournament. They missed out on a bye, and drew a hard first opponent in UNC, followed up the prospects of playing Syracuse, Louisville or Virginia, all teams that caused problems for VT. That said, we aren’t dead, miracles can happen, and if you flip the ACC coin 100 times, it could land on the Hokies 2 times. While a 2% chance isn’t much, I know Hokie faithful will be cheering on the squad hard tonight!

For details on each match up in the first rounds, please read below. Most of the match ups feature closely matched teams, hopefully kicking March basketball off with a bang. We will be updating our model with our final NCAA bracket prediction Sunday, so be on the lookout after that last whistle.

#11 Virginia Tech (EVTB #113, NET #80, Kenpom #96) vs #14 UNC (EVTB #131, NET #81, Kenpom #84)

We all remember what happened the last time these two teams met. It was one of the best games of the NCAA season so far, with the Hokies topping the Tar Heels in double overtime, thanks to a Tyrece Radford buzzer beater. However, this game will be different for many reasons. First, UNC had an abysmal season, finishing last in the ACC, including a streak of 7 straight losses. However, they recently won 3 out of the last 4 conference games over some quality opponents. Second, they will now have the talents of future NBA player Cole Anthony, who was sidelined in the first match up. On the other hand, the Hokies were hot last time these teams played, and have since cooled down to arctic temperatures. 

Stats-wise these teams are decently equal, with a slight defensive edge going to the Hokies, but a rebounding edge for UNC. Vegas has the Hokies as a four point underdog, which shows some divergence from what quantitative models predict. Our EVTB model ranks the Hokies 18 spots ahead of the Tar Heels, giving them a slight 52% to 48% advantage. NET places the teams on equal footing at #80 and #81, while Kenpom likes UNC more, having them 12 spots higher. ESPN BPI model favors the Tar Heels 54% to 46%, nearly the exact opposite of our model. No matter how you cut it, this will be a highly contested match up, just as it was in January.

#12 Wake Forest (EVTB #132, NET #108, Kenpom #99) vs #13 Pitt (EVTB #145, NET #110, Kenpom #111)

The first round of ACC games should be entertaining, as the first game of the day is even more competitive than VT vs UNC. Vegas slightly favors the Panthers by 1 point, while ESPN BPI places this game at 51% to 49%, with a slight edge to Wake Forest. These teams both have equal conference records, and the Demon Deacons edged out the Panthers by 4 points early in the season. Since then Wake has been up and down, with a solid win over Duke, while Pitt has been cratering with 7 conference losses to end the season. Look for Wake to push the pace a little, while the Panthers look to slow it down. Whichever team can force the pace to their liking, will likely move onto Round 2 against NC State. Finally, our EVTB model gives the Panthers a 53% chance of victory over Wake Forest tonight, in another hotly contested match up. 

#8 Clemson (EVTB #107, NET #82, Kenpom #73) vs #9 Miami (EVTB #120, NET #102, Kenpom #104)

Day 2 of the tournament will also feature some competitive match ups, with Clemson and Miami kicking it off. Clemson has been a two-faced team all year, racking up wins against Duke, Louisville and Florida State, while dropping some head scratchers against low-quality opponents. On the other side, Miami hasn’t taken down a top opponent, but took care of business against teams they were supposed to beat, dropping them near the middle of the ACC. Last time these squads faced off, it was a back-and-forth game that the Hurricanes won in overtime. The stats indicate another close match up, but predictive models think Clemson is a prohibitive favorite. The EVTB gives the Tigers a 54% chance of winning, while BPI favors Clemson with a 66% chance of victory. Ultimately, I think it will come down to which Clemson we see. If they play down to the opponent, as they did in the regular season, Clemson could struggle.

#7 ND (EVTB #67, NET #56, Kenpom #59) vs #10 BC (EVTB #218, NET #153, Kenpom #177)

Boston College managed to get a bye for the first round, but drew Notre Dame in what should be the most lopsided match up of the early ACC tournament. In the regular season, these teams split two games by 1 point each, indicating that they are close. However, all statistical measures favor the Fighting Irish. First, ND scores more points, allows less points, shoots better, out rebound and out assist the Eagles. Our model favors ND by a 74% to 26% margin, while BPI likes ND even more at 83% odds to win. Boston College has taken down some big opponents this year, however we think they will be outmatched in this game.

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