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Which ACC Longshot Has Cinderella Potential?

Tuesday, March 13, 2018 18:58
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The ACC has nine teams in the 2018 NCAA Tournament, and three (Virginia, Duke, UNC) are among the favorites to win the national championship. Do any of the other six have a viable chance to make a Cinderella run to the title? The odds from the major sportsbooks say no, with Clemson, Virginia Tech, Miami, NC State, Florida State, and Syracuse ranging from 150/1 to 350/1. If you’re brave enough go beyond brackets and bet on longshots, Sports Betting Dime may potentially get you a promo code. They’ve got at the very least have solid information on who does value on underdogs. I want to take a closer look at each one of these teams and their odds, from highest seed to lowest.

#5 Clemson Tigers: 150/1

By both seed and advanced metrics, Clemson is the next-best ACC team in the field, entering March Madness ranked 19th in KenPom. The problem is that the Tigers are on the decline. Once a top-15 team in the country, they have been sputtered especially on the road since losing Donte Grantham. The strength of their region (Midwest) is a big hurdle. It features #1 Kansas, #2 Duke, and #3 Michigan State: three teams with a real shot at the title. They don’t have much of a chance of getting out of the Midwest alive. Sweet 16? That would still be a great season for the Tigers.

#6 Miami Hurricanes: 150/1

Even at full strength, the Hurricanes were an infuriating team due to their inconsistency. They could beat great teams on the road (like UNC) and lose to mediocre ones at home (like Syracuse). Now they have to try to make a March Madness run without injured point guard Bruce Brown Jr. There’s a very good chance they get picked off in the first round by sneaky-good Loyola-Chicago.

#8 Virginia Tech Hokies: 150/1

The Hokies flashed their massive potential at times this year, beating both Virginia and Duke, and their 11 losses were all pretty respectable. They don’t have a lot of size, but Buzz Williams has them playing decent team defense while lighting it up from three. They have the guard play to hang with Collin Sexton and #9 Alabama in the first round and could even give #1 Villanova problems in the second round, since Nova doesn’t really have the frontcourt to exploit what the Hokies lack. It’s hard to argue that Justin Robinson and company are a better backcourt than what Villanova brings to the table, but this is probably still the ACC’s best Cinderella hope. Villanova is a difficult matchup for the Hokies, but if they get this game, the region really opens up for them.

#9 NC State Wolfpack: 250/1

Another team in the stacked Midwest, NC State was the only ACC team besides Virginia and Va. Tech to beat both Duke and UNC this year. The turnaround orchestrated by Kevin Keatts has been nothing short of tremendous. But this team also lost to Northern Iowa and UNC Greensboro, and got bounced in their first game of the ACC tournament by Boston College. In order to even have a chance at #1 Kansas, they’ll have to get by #8 Seton Hall, a game in which they’re currently two-point underdogs. The slipper doesn’t fit. Even if NC State gets by Kansas, there’s Duke or Michigan State to contend with.

#9 Florida State Seminoles: 350/1

The Noles, like Clemson, are trending in the wrong direction. They lost three of four and five of eight to end the season, including a 15-point loss to a Notre Dame team that was still missing Bonzie Colson. They have been rock-solid in the state of Florida this year, and pretty dismal everywhere else.

That said, you have to like their draw. First, they face a Missouri team that’s trying to integrate Michael Porter Jr. into their lineup, and didn’t look good in their first attempt at doing so, losing to Georgia (62-60). Next up would be Xavier, one of the weakest #1 seeds ever, according to the advanced stats (14th in overall efficiency per KenPom). If FSU plays up to its potential, it could make a run. But since they aren’t playing in Florida, their Cinderella clock is fast approaching midnight.

#11 Syracuse Orange: 250/1

How the Orange have shorter odds than Florida State is baffling, given that they have to win an extra game as part of the First Four, and they are 1.5-point underdogs to Arizona State in that matchup. The prospect of an extra game is particularly daunting for Syracuse, since Jim Boeheim is using a seven-man rotation and basically can’t take Tyus Battle off the court. Don’t count out Syracuse though. They made the Final 4 in 2016 from Dayton.

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