College Basketball Top 25 Picks for Wednesday, March 8th
The ACC Tournament is underway and that means we have two top 25 teams in action on Wednesday night including Duke and Virginia. There’s two other games in the conference tournament on Wednesday with Syracuse taking on Miami and Wake Forest battling Virginia Tech but we’ve chosen to focus in on the teams that are still ranked in the Top 25 to help you focus on your betting.
With a huge slate of games set up for the weekend Wednesday is just an appetizer before the main entree. That’s just fine with us as we gear up for what should be one of the most exciting March Madness tournaments to date. With just two games featuring Top 25 teams it’s easy to sink our teeth into both and give you the best previews we can. Let’s get to it!
Clemson Tigers at #14 Duke Blue Devils
- Clemson (n/a) at Duke (n/a)
It’s been a while since one of the most storied programs in all of college basketball actually won their conference tournament but Duke plans on changing that when they take their first step towards a title on Wednesday night against Clemson. The Blue Devils have failed to capture an ACC title since 2011 but have their sights set on another title when they take the court against the Tigers
Duke enters with a 23-8 record overall and will need to win four games in just four days to try and capture a title. No team has ever won the tournament having to play that many games in that many days but the Blue Devils feel like they’re up for the task. It won’t be an easy task to even win their first game against the Tigers.
Clemson is 17-14 overall and advanced in the tourney after a big 75-61 win over North Carolina State in the first round on Tuesday. It was a big double digit win for a team that doesn’t have many this season and have experienced a tough year with ten different losses all coming by just six points or less.
The Tigers were just the 12th seed in the tournament but made quick work of the Wolfpack. They beat up North Carolina Stat inside with 40 points in the pain and took advantage of some sloppy play by their opponents. The Wolfpack turned over the ball 15 different times resulting in 21 points but the Tigers. They also locked it down on defense and made the Wolfpack’s brightest start look pedestrian. Dennis Smith Jr. finished his 36 minutes of play with just seven points on a brutal 3-12 shooting.
That defense will need to show up again when they take on Duke. The Blue Devils kick off their tournament as the 5th seed after a first round buy and haven’t loss their first game of this tournament in three straight seasons. Duke is also full of veterans who know what it takes to make it far in these tournaments and have started to experiment with their depth as of late.
With Grayson Allen still battling an ankle injury, freshman Frank Jackson has moved into the starting lineup and performed admirably. With Allen coming off the bench the Blue Devils have another weapon they can deploy to try and throw the Tigers off their game.
Clemson has been playing well lately though with three straight games after losing six of their last seven and one of those losses was just a two point defeat at the hands of this very same Duke Team back in mid-February. They’re also feeling confident after the big win and have a little less rust to shake off than Duke.
Luke Kennard against Jaron Blossomgame. Kennard seemed to come out of nowhere this season but now that he’s here the rest of the country is taking notice. He’s leading the ACC with 20.1 points per game and has made at least one three in 34 straight games. It’s the 15th longest streak in league history and as long as Kennard keeps getting the green light he’s going to shoot the lights out. He can also play some defense too and will need to be sharp against Blossomgame after he was instrumental in the win over North Carolina State for the Tigers. He scored 22 points in that game and is averaging 17.3 on the season for Clemson. He’s also second on the team in rebounding with 6.2 and knows how to throw his weight around on the court.
The Blue Devils are just gearing up for a big March Madness run and Coach K always holds his cards close for how he’s going to approach the final stretch of the season. Duke has what it takes to beat Clemson but we think the Tigers make it close enough to warrant grabbing them on the spread.
Pittsburgh Panthers at #21 Virginia
- Pittsburgh (n/a) at Virginia (n/a)
Well we didn’t have to wait long for these two teams to have a rematch now did we? It’s been just four days since the Panthers and Cavaliers last played each other in the regular season final for both teams and now they’re back at it in the second round of the ACC conference tournament in Brooklyn at Barclays Center on Wednesday night.
It wasn’t much of a game the last time around as Virginia made easy work of Pittsburgh in a 67-42 win. London Perrantes was the star (as he’s been all season) for Virginia with 22 points and a strong defensive game. The Cavaliers may have been playing with a little extra determination after they were upset by the Panthers back in January behind big games form Michael Young and Jamel Artis. The two were cold in their last game though as they combined for a two for 11 shooting performance from downtown but still helped Pittsburgh narrowly escape with a 61-59 win over Georgia Tech in the first round of the tournament.
Pittsburgh’s shooting in general will need to improve if they have any hope of getting past Virginia’s excellent defense. They shot just six of 23 overall from deep against Georgia Tech and after failing to hit the 50 point mark less than a week ago against Virginia it could turn sour for the Panthers early. Virginia is rolling right now and have rattled off there straight wins to enter the tourney. They’ve been playing well lately in the ACC tournament lately as well with two finals appearances in the last three years and a title in 2014.
They may find it easy to make it their again after being given the #6 seed in the tourney this year. The designation means they won’t have to play North Carolina before a possible finals appearance, matching up well with the teams in front of them. For Pittsburgh, it’s all uphill as the Panthers are playing against teams much better than themselves from here on out.
Michael Young against London Perrantes. If Pittsburgh has any shot of winning this game they’ll need a better performance from Young. The Panthers’ star has been excellent this season with averages of 19.8 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.4 steals and blocks but was ice cold against the Yellow Jackets in his last game. Now he’s up against the Cavaliers’ strong defense and London Perrantes who dropped 22 on the Panthers in his last game. Perrantes averages just 12.8 points per game but chips in with 3.9 assists and is the general of a very smart and balanced Virginia offense.
Since the league expanded in 2014 a #14 seed has never won two games in the tournament. Now Pittsburgh is trying to become the first and against a Virginia team that is absolutely locking down their opponents on defense. Take the Cavaliers on the spread and watch them gear up for a deep ACC run.