Ryan Kelly, Duke Expect to Resume ACC Tournament Dominance, But Miami, North Carolina May Have Say

Duke Blue DevilsDuke didn’t win the ACC’s regular-season basketball championship this season, finishing a game behind Miami, Fla., who secured its first conference crown. It’s the Blue Devils, however, who are the -175 opening favorites at Bovada to win their fourth ACC Tournament title in the past five years.

The Blue Devils lead the way with 19 ACC Tournament titles overall and only¬†four times have they come up empty: 2004 (Maryland), 2007 and ’08 (North Carolina) and last year (Florida State). Duke certainly would claim a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament with the ACC crown. They enter as the No. 2 seed and closed the regular season with an impressive win at home against Miami and on the road in the finale at archrival North Carolina.

Senior forward Ryan Kelly‘s presence back into the lineup has been enormous, and when he played this season the Blue Devils were unbeaten. The 6-foot-11 senior averages 14.6 points and 5.6 rebounds. He missed 13 games with a foot injury. Duke opens play in Greensboro, N.C., on Friday against either Maryland or Wake Forest.

Speaking of Maryland (+2500), they need a win over Wake Forest and an upset of Duke to get a potential at-large NCAA bid. Maryland shocked No. 1 Duke 83-81 on February 16 in College Park but lost four of its final six after that, including losses against Boston College and Georgia Tech.

Miami (+225), the No. 1 seed, has never reached the ACC Tournament final. The Hurricanes routed North Carolina twice this season and handed Duke one of their worst losses ever under coach Mike Krzyzewski, but UM struggled at the end of the season by losing three of their final five games. Still, adding the ACC Tournament title to their regular-season crown should get the Canes a top seed in the NCAA Tournament. They will face the winner of Boston College and Georgia Tech. Eighth-seeded BC is one of the tournament long shots at +7000.

No. 3 seed North Carolina (+400) had been playing their best basketball of the season with a six-game winning streak before being blown off the court in Chapel Hill by Duke in the regular season finale 69-53. The Heels fell behind 14-0 in that one and never recovered. UNC was a wretched 1-for-14 (7.1%) from three-point range, their lowest percentage from behind the arc in the past 15 years. North Carolina plays the Florida State-Clemson winner in the quarterfinals and could get another shot at the Blue Devils in Saturday’s semifinals.

Virginia (+725) rounds out the top-four seeds. The Cavaliers look to be in solid shape for an NCAA bid thanks to a season-ending overtime win over Maryland. The Cavs will want to win their quarterfinal game against either NC State or Virginia Tech to be safe. UVA has just one ACC Tournament title in their history, going way back in 1976.

No. 5 NC State (+400) was voted as the ACC preseason regular-season favorite but finished tied for fourth with Virginia, four games behind Miami. The Wolfpack lost the tiebreaker with Virginia for the fourth seed and a first-round bye due to a 58-55 loss at Virginia in the teams’ only meeting of the regular season. NC State hasn’t won the ACC Tournament since 1987.

Best in Class: Bovada’s got the largest daily offering of college basketball team Props around. Raise your game.

Photo via Facebook/Duke Men’s Basketball

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