NCAA Basketball Picks: Duke vs. Virginia ACC Championship

Willie Bee

Sunday, March 16, 2014 12:11 PM UTC

Sunday, Mar. 16, 2014 12:11 PM UTC

Selection Sunday is upon us, and there appears to be at least one No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament up for grabs. Could it go to the winner of the ACC Championship between the Virginia Cavaliers and Duke Blue Devils?

Take a look at the top NCAA Basketball Futures Betting Lines

The conference rivals are locked into a 1 PM (ET) tip at Greensboro Coliseum with ESPN having the broadcast honors for this 1/3 seed conference matchup. Duke went out as short 1 point chalk on the overnight spread. SBR's NCAA basketball odds will have the total once it is released; I'm expecting 131-133.

The Blue Devils and Cavaliers met a little more than two months ago in Durham, and it was Duke who held off a late Virginia charge for the 69-65 triumph. That contest closed with the Blue Devils -5.5, giving UVa backers their third consecutive cover in the series that Duke leads by a wide 116-49 margin.

The 134 combined points landed squarely on the total after nine of the previous 11 meetings finished 'under' the mark.

Cavs Reach ACC Final For 1st Time In 20 Years

There were some tense moments near the end of Saturday's win over Pittsburgh, but Tony Bennett and Virginia (27-6 straight up, 18-10-1 against the spread) worked through them to advance to Sunday's championship. It's the first ACC Tournament Final appearance for the Cavaliers since 1994, and they're after their first ACC crown since 1976.

Just as they did in Friday's victory vs. Florida State, the Cavs built a lead during the first 10 minutes of the second half against the Panthers, then held on for the 51-48 dubya. Virginia was giving up three points in the game to push the spread for bettors, and it was the second time this season the Cavaliers and Pitt failed to break the 100-point barrier.

In the January matchup at Durham, Virginia fell behind 8-0 out of the gate and trailed by as many as 13 in the first half. But the Cavaliers never quit and battled back to tie the game thanks to an 11-0 run late in the second half. A pair of Malcolm Brogdon free throws with 37 seconds left put Virginia ahead briefly, but a 3-point heave by Duke's Rasheed Sulaimon sunk the rally.

It was the kind of game that might have put previous Virginia teams into a funk, but the Cavaliers responded by winning their next 13 before suffering an overtime loss at Maryland in the regular season finale.

Offense Propels Blue Devils Into Title Tilt

It was another bad day for Duke (26-7 SU, 19-14 ATS) haters on Saturday, but another good day for Blue Devil faders in their 75-67 win vs. North Carolina State. Giving up 9.5 points was too much as Duke failed to cover the spread for a 2nd-straight time in the ACC Tournament, and fourth time in the last five games.

The final score also marked the 2nd-straight 'under' for the Blue Devils in Greensboro, their two contests vs. Clemson and NC State finishing short of the number by a combined 4½ points. Duke shot well from the field (28-of-49, 57%), including 7-for-17 from beyond the arc, but the Wolfpack couldn't maintain their 1st-half pace, especially ACC player of the Year TJ Warren who found the net just four times in 13 tries the final 20 minutes.

Blue Devil backers on Saturday are no doubt pointing to that 12-of-23 performance from the free-throw line as a big reason they didn't cash. That effort followed a season-best 16-of-18 from the stripe in Friday's win vs. Clemson.

All signs point to the low side of the total being the way to go for this one, and that's where I'm leaning for my free NCAA basketball pick. Keep an eye on SBR for that number when it comes out.

My pick: Lean Virginia-Duke Under

Season: 56-42-4 (+9.8)


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