Cap’n Kielar’s Best Bets: Champ Week March 8, 2021by Alex Kielar March 9, 2021 0 comments
Welcome back to another edition of Cap’n Kielar’s Best Bets! After some time off, I am back as Conference Championship Week in college basketball has gotten underway. Let’s take a look at some bets in the ACC and Northeast Conference Tournaments.
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Overall record: 24-28
ACC Tournament Round 1
Pittsburgh vs. Miami (+3)
Pittsburgh is facing tons of turmoil right now, with two of their top two players entering the transfer portal a couple of weeks ago. That is in Xavier Johnson and Au’Diese Toney who accounted for 40% of the Panthers’ offense, including shooting over 50% from behind the arc. Justin Champagnie is having one of the best seasons in the ACC, leading the conference in rebounding (11.1 per game) and is second behind Duke’s Matthew Hurt in points per game (18.4). He is also the only ACC player to average a double-double every night. He won’t, however, be able to do it all himself and Pitt has lost two of three since Johnson and Toney left.
Miami was struggling with six straight losses before they defeated Boston College 80-76 to end the regular season. Five of the Hurricanes’ players went down with season-ending injuries this season, but they have still produced at a solid level. Miami will have all the energy and will do everything they can to limit Champagnie. Miami has covered their last two games as underdogs and there isn’t anything straying me away from believing in them doing the same here.
Cap’n Kielar’s Pick: Miami (+3)
Duke vs. Boston College (+12.5)
Unless they win five games in five days, the Blue Devils are going to miss the big dance for the first time in 24 years. It has been a strange year, and bracketologists were starting to get back on board with Duke after they had won four in a row. Then they lost their final three games, and now will have to win the ACC Tournament for the automatic bid to keep their streak alive. During their three game losing streak, Duke has played flat offensively and it will be a tall task to cover this spread. They shot at just 21% from three-point range during those games.
Boston College is not a good team, but they did lose to this Duke team by just one, 83-82, back in January. The Blue Devils may not be as bad as they were playing earlier on in the season but they certainly aren’t as good as previous programs. Grab the points and look for the Eagles to cover.
Cap’n Kielar’s Pick: Boston College (+12.5)
Notre Dame (-8) vs. Wake Forest
Notre Dame lost four in a row before closing the season with a big win over Florida State. In that game, they made 28 of 34 free throw attempts as they looked the brightest they really have all season. The Fighting Irish are not a very good team, as they are 346th in turnover rate according to KenPom.
Wake Forest, however, hasn’t won a game since February 7, losing their last seven in a row. They haven’t beaten any team as good as Notre Dame this season and the Demon Deacons are not ranked in the top 200 in effective field-goal percentage, turnover rate, and offensive-rebound rate. The Irish defeated Wake by 21 in the previous meeting on February 2. While a win by a similar margin isn’t likely, covering an eight point spread is certainly sustainable.
Cap’n Kielar’s Pick: Notre Dame (-8)
Northeast Conference Championship: Bryant (-5) vs. Mount St. Mary’s
In the championship for the Northeast Conference, the No. 2 seed Bryant Bulldogs face off against the No. 4 seed Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers. The Mountaineers are coming off an upset of No. 1 seed Wagner and look to do the same against Bryant. The Bulldogs were forced to play the semifinals with just seven scholarship players due to COVID-19 protocols. Without Chris Childs, Nathaniel Stokes, and Michael Green lll who are three of their top scorers from the outside, Bryant relied on driving to the basket to oust Sacred Heart, 85-55. Three years removed from a 3-28 season, Bryant has now been the team to beat in the NEC this season and look to go dancing.
Mount St. Mary’s is a very slow tempo team, ranked 356th in the country in pace-of-play. In their win over Wagner, they shot 47.8% from the field and got the free throw line 27 times. The Mountaineers did turn the ball over 18 times and will have to clean that up to get by Bryant. Their defense was key in the victory, as they held Wagner to just 36.1% from the field. They will have to do more of the same in the championship. I just don’t see their defense playing that well again, and Bryant is the much faster paced team. Bryant will be able to dictate the pace of play. They win with a cover as they punch their ticket for the big dance.
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