ACC Tournament Favorites, Dark Horses and Prediction

Last season the Virginia Cavaliers won the ACC tournament. This season the Cavaliers won the regular season title and come in as one of the favorites to win the ACC tournament, which starts Tuesday in Greensboro. Many questions remain unanswered heading into the tournament. Virginia lost its last regular season game to Louisville, while Duke has played exceptionally well since losing two straight earlier in the season. Miami is looking for at least two wins to assure themselves of a spot in the NCAA tournament.



Virginia will be the No. 1 seed, but Duke heading into the tournament is the team to beat. With Tyus Jones running the show and Jahlil Okafor the sensational freshman center, the Blue Devils look tough to beat. Duke can be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament with a victory in the ACC tournament. The only concern with the Blue Devils is they are just 8 deep.


Virginia has the best defense in the nation with the exception of Kentucky with clutch offense that has kept them in the top 5 all season.


The Cardinals must be given credit as they lost starting point guard Chris Jones but have not let up. Montrezl Harrell is able to take control of games, while Terry Rozier is great with the game on the line.

Notre Dame

The Irish have not received that much attention since losing to Duke last month, but with Jerian Grant, a great player no one talks about and Pat Connaughton the Irish can win the big games. Bonzie Colson has come on of late down low and at the wing making them even more dangerous on the offensive end.

Dark horses:

North Carolina, North Carolina State and Miami

Most on the Line:

Miami needs at least two wins to have a good shot at making the NCAA tournament field. NC State should make it as long as they are not routed in a game in this tournament. Both Duke and UVA are playing for possible No. 1 regional seeds, though both could get one.


The Syracuse Orange are gone due to a self imposed ban for the postseason even prior to the harsh penalties set down last week by the NCAA. The 2-3 suffocating zone will not be missed, but the talented Jim Boeheim on the Orange bench will be.

Look for Duke, Virginia, Notre Dame and Louisville to reach the semifinals with Duke and Virginia playing in the finals.


Duke 69-63

College Football Conference Championship Lines and Trends

This is championship week in college football with a number of conferences playing their conference championship games.

MAC – Northern Illinois vs. Bowling Green

Northern Illinois is 10-2 and 6-6 ATS, while Bowling Green is 7-5 SU and 4-7-1 ATS.

Friday night, the two will face off in Detroit, Michigan. NIU has opened as a 3-point favorite.

This is the fifth consecutive season Northern Illinois will be vying for the trophy. The Huskies are 2-2 in the previous four.

The two teams played in last year’s MAC Championship with Bowling Green winning 47-27.

The underdog is 5-1 ATS over the past 6 championship games.

Pac-12 – Arizona vs. Oregon

Arizona is 10-2 SU and 5-7 ATS, while Oregon is 11-1 SU and 8-4 ATS.

The two will meet on Friday at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.

Oregon has opened as a favorite by 13.5 points.

This is the fourth championship game for the Pac-12. The favorite is 2-1 SU and 0-3 ATS in the first three Pac-12 championship games.

The Pac-12 North is 3-0 SU in the first three championships.

Arizona was a road dog by 21.5 points in October and defeated Oregon 31-21.

SEC – Alabama vs. Missouri

Alabama is 11-1 SU and 4-8 ATS, while Missouri is 10-2 SU and 8-4 ATS.

Alabama meets Missouri for the SEC championship at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia.

Alabama opened as the favorite by 10.5 points but that has increased already to 13 points.

In the SEC championship, the underdog is 11-10-1 ATS.

The SEC West is 5-0 SU in the past 5 SEC championship games. Missouri lost in last year’s championship to Auburn by 17 points as a favorite by 2.5 points.

The teams last met in 2012 with Alabama winning 42-10.

ACC – Florida State vs. Georgia Tech

Florida State is undefeated at 12-0 SU and 3-9 ATS, while Georgia Tech is 10-2 SU and 5-1 ATS.

Florida State will defend its ACC title against Georgia Tech at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Florida State was a 5.5-point favorite to open but it is now just 4 points.

FSU is 3-1 SU and 2-2 ATS in its four prior trips to the ACC Championship. Georgia Tech is 1-2 SU in its three trips.

The two played in the ACC Championship in 2012 with FSU winning 21-15.

Big 10 – Ohio State vs. Wisconsin

Ohio State is 11-1 SU and 7-5 ATS, while Wisconsin is 10-2 SU and 7-5 ATS.

Ohio State plays Wisconsin for the Big 10 title in Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Wisconsin is favored by 4 points.

The underdog is 1-2 SU in the 3 prior Big 10 championship games.

Wisconsin is 2-0 SU in two Big 10 title games and Ohio State is 0-1 SU.

T.J. Barrett the OSU quarterback is out with broken ankle.

Ohio State is 4-1 SU in its past 5 games head to head with Wisconsin.

ACC Commissioner Supports Eight-Team Playoff But It’s Unlikely to Happen Soon

ACC Commissioner John Swofford is calling for an eight-game playoff and I agree. The problem is the excuses that get in the way of it happening.

John Swofford is making some sense. Sort of, in a kind of “he’s making sense but then he went and said something that’s kind of stupid” sort of way.

Swofford is the commissioner of the Atlantic Coast Conference and this week he said what most of us already know; an eight-team college football playoff is the best way to go.

There’s a solid chance Swofford is making one of his own schools sweat a little bit here. With Florida State the only major college unbeaten left yet ranking third in the current four-team rankings, I’m guessing Jimbo Fisher doesn’t want to hear about an eight-team playoff any time soon.

Should his Seminoles stumble in their last three games though you can be darn sure Fisher would be supporting Swofford 100%.

This leads us to the points where what Swofford said don’t make a whole lot of sense.

Rakeem Cato and Marshall would deserve a playoff spot if it were an eight-team playoff right now.

First of all, Swofford said that by going to eight teams in a playoff, this would eliminate most of the controversy over who is in and who is out. The boss of the ACC apparently doesn’t pay close attention to the NCAA College Basketball Tournament shows where the hottest topics of conversation are about who got snubbed.

Regardless of who makes the playoff and regardless of how many make the playoff there will always be controversy.

Back to where Swofford is right… By letting in another four teams you add the “Cinderella” element to the playoffs. Take Marshall for instance right now. If we assume that in an eight-team playoff field the winners of the power five conferences would get automatic berths, that leaves three open spots.

In my opinion, Marshall would have to get a bid if they finished unbeaten. The two other bids would then go to at-large berths from the power five.

Think about that scenario for a second; you’d have Marshall as the eight seed no doubt playing against Alabama. No one would give the Herd a shot but that’s why they play the games though right?

Not having a “Cinderella moment” in college football is what is lacking from its’ postseason. We will still get great football games in the four-team playoff but there won’t be any true underdogs.

The other stupid thing that Swofford said was related to why the move to the eight-team playoff would be difficult. Stop me if you’ve heard this argument before… The university presidents are concerned with academics.

(Laughs for 20 minutes then returns to keyboard)

The majority of university presidents are not in favor of extending the season over two semesters. By adding one more week of playoffs, most two-semester schools would then enter into a second semester.

Don’t buy this for a New York minute. First of all, this would affect a very small amount of schools; probably four or so. Secondly, are we to believe that academics are suddenly so important when teams that reach the basketball final four basically miss classes for three weeks? Have you ever looked into just how much school these basketball players are missing?

If a team opens the tournament on a Thursday-Saturday pattern then most teams will attend classes on Monday and Tuesday and then travel to their site on Wednesday. Should they win and play again Saturday then the earliest they return to campus is late Saturday night or Sunday. If that pattern continues for the next two weeks that means players miss a total of a minimum of nine days of class.

Because basketball teams are smaller, they can actually have a decent number of tutors travel with them but still, please stop trying to use “education” as the reason for not expanding to an eight-game playoff. It’s a weak argument period.

At the very least, one of the power five conference commissioners has at least brought the subject to forefront and that’s a good thing.

ACC Coastal Division Odds for 2014

Larry Fedora and the Tar Heels are looking to capture the ACC Coastal Division.

As my tour around college football continues, today is the ACC Coastal.

North Carolina 7/4 – The Tar Heels have seven starters back on defense but three of those that are gone went to the NFL. The offense returns eight players but one of the three gone is tight end Eric Ebron who was an absolute stud for UNC. Other than Notre Dame, the non-conference schedule is not overly difficult. Besides the Irish, the Heels also have road trips to Clemson, Virginia and Miami. I see UNC finishing with seven to eight wins this year.

Miami 3/1 – Al Golden enters his fourth year with a 22-15 record and seven starters returning on each side of the ball. QB Jake Heaps who is with his third team now, seems to have the keys to the offense but Golden has yet to commit. The Canes were selected as the favorites to win the Coastal and that possibility obviously exists with their talent. Miami opens at the team they last saw in a game and that’s ACC newcomer Louisville who blasted the Canes in last season’s Russell Athletic Bowl. They also have trips to Nebraska, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech as well. They do get Florida State and Duke at home. The division title is there for them but is the schedule too much?

I have a feeling Frank Beamer and the Hokies will challenge for the Coastal Division if not win it.

Virginia Tech 3/1 – The Hokies return nine starters on offense but just five on defense from a team that struggled last season with just eight wins and a blowout bowl loss to UCLA. QB Logan Thomas is gone and I think that’s a good thing as he never lived up to expectations. Despite few starters back on D, the talent is there especially in the secondary and on the D-Line. If the offensive line can gel, then the Hokies are a legitimate threat to win the division. The tough road trips are to Ohio State, North Carolina and Duke.

Duke 6/1 – The Blue Devils return eight starters on offense and six on defense as they look to follow up last year’s division title. Duke must replace three starters on the defensive line and Anthony Boone is the only QB with experience. The Blue Devils should roll to a 4-0 record against weak non-conference opponents but then they have four conference road games in their next five and among them are trips to Miami, Pitt, Syracuse and Georgia Tech. I do not see repeat for Duke in 2014.

Georgia Tech 8/1 – The Yellow Jackets return just 10 starters from last year’s team that featured some big wins and heartbreaking losses. Because of the offensive system, losing backs isn’t usually a big deal. Coach Paul Johnson just reloads in the backfield. Other than Georgia to finish the season, the non-conference slate is easy. Besides the trip to Athens, GT also has trips to Virginia Tech, North Carolina and NC State. If the defense comes together, the Jackets can be a threat in the division.

Pitt 25/1 – The Panthers come off of a 6-7 record in Paul Chryst’s first year in Pittsburgh. Eight starters return on offense and just five on defense. Pitt will rely on a new quarterback but he’ll have the benefit of receiver Tyler Boyd who was even better than Larry Fitzgerald was as a freshman. Tough road games are at Boston College, North Carolina and Miami. 6-6 is very possible again in the Steel City.

Virginia 25/1 – With 16 starters (9-Off/7-Def) returning, Mike London has no more excuses especially considering the solid recruiting class as well. London is one of America’s ‘coaches on the hot seat.’ The first four games will tell the story for the 2014 Cavaliers. They host UCLA, Richmond and Louisville and then travel to BYU. The only way London survives is by getting to a bowl game and even that isn’t a guarantee.

The Pick: I have a feeling Coach Frank Beamer will have his Hokies ready to be back among the elite in the ACC.The Tar Heels could put pressure on both Miami and the Hokies but I’m not sure I’m buying the UNC hype.

Weekend Ramblings Include Phil, NCAA Uncertainty and Steve Nash’s Honesty

Can Phil Jackson save the New York Knicks?

For the first time in his non-playing career, Phil Jackson is taking a risk. Every report this side of Antarctica says the zen-master is headed to the New York Knicks as team president and a ‘major announcement’ has been called by the organization for Tuesday morning.

I say that Jackson is taking a risk because during his tenure as a head coach in the National Basketball Association he has been fortunate enough to coach two teams that were both loaded with talent. He stepped into the head coaching position with the Chicago Bulls when the team was just coming into its own.

Six titles later and a Michael Jordan retirement saw him head to Los Angeles where the Lakers were Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal were in their primes. Five titles later, retirement for Phil Jackson looked pretty darn good. Now, Jackson is entering a situation where there is no savior waiting in the wings. Carmelo Anthony is the only player the Knicks have worth a darn and may not even be there as free agency looms this offseason.

At 68 years old, can Jackson handle the rigors of rebuilding an organization that has fallen on the worst of times? Should he be able to get this team into the playoffs within two to three years then he shall have succeeded in some circles. Status quo or worse will tarnish his legacy whether he believes it or not.

Syracuse Head Coach Jim Boeheim needs to get this team back on track.

NCAA Tourney Field Wide-Open

A month ago, Syracuse seemed destined to get to the Final Four and possibly the championship game as they cruised to an unbeaten start. Since they finally lost at Boston College, it’s been a train wreck to put it lightly. The Orange were bounced from their first-ever ACC Tournament appearance by NC State yesterday 66-63. It was the Orange’s fifth loss in their last seven games.

Syracuse wasn’t the only team though across the country to get beaten earlier than expected in their conference tournaments. Kansas was beaten by Iowa State who all of the sudden looks like a team that could make a run in the NCAA Tournament. Big Ten Champ Michigan escaped Illinois with a one-point win while #15 North Carolina was beaten by new ACC member Pitt 80-75.

#18 St. Louis also took it on the chin losing to St. Bonaventure and #13 Cincinnati lost to #21 UConn 58-56. All of this really shouldn’t be that surprising. Conference tournaments have often been the scene of big upsets ahead of the big dance but with every passing year these events seem to get more and more common.

Wichita State has so far held up their end of the bargain by finishing unbeaten and with a conference tournament title in hand. The Shockers will get a number one seed but they are no means a lock to roll into the Final Four.

Bottom line? You better do your homework when filling out your brackets this year because anything is possible.

Nash Speaks the Truth

We have to credit Los Angeles Lakers’ guard Steve Nash for being honest. In the sports’ world, fans often cry that players only take deals in certain locations because of the money but rarely ever admit that’s the reason.

Don’t worry about Steve Nash in this regard. The often-injured former NBA MVP flat out said he is coming back next year because he wants to collect his $10 million pay check. If you’re a Lakers’ fan, you probably aren’t thrilled with this. You’d rather he just retired so the team can move on and rebuild. For the rest of us, it was rather refreshing to hear a guy finally say, “It’s about the money.”

Conference Tournaments Offer Wagering Opportunities Too

Don't wait for the Big Dance! Start March Madness with some conference tourney wagering.

While many conference tournaments are already underway across the country, the ‘big boys’ start their tournaments next week. We are just nine days from Selection Sunday and while the little conferences have their say in who will represent them, the larger conferences have no such worries.

Conferences like the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 and so on know they will have multiple schools getting into the big dance while conferences like the Ohio Valley or SWAC are more than likely looking at just one team, the conference champion, getting in.

Fair or not, that’s the way basketball in the collegiate ranks works. It’s also why we as fans pay so little attention to these tournaments until their championship games are set. Even then our interest is little and is much more focused on the major conference tournaments ahead.

If you are already foaming at the mouth at the thought of filling out your NCAA brackets then I have something to tide you over. Many of you are already doing this but I know many of you aren’t and you are missing out!

I’m always on the lookout for numerous ways to gamble around the office. It’s a good way to build morale and goodwill in the workplace. All too often, we assume that there is nothing to do between the Super Bowl and the NCAA Tournament and I’m telling you that just isn’t so.

Depending upon where you live in the United States, you should be holding a conference tournament pool based on your nearest major conference.

If you live in Texas then you should be hosting an office pool for the Big 12 Conference Tournament or perhaps the SEC Tournament for you A&M folks.

If you’re in the upper Northeast you should have an American Athletic Conference Tournament pool or ACC if you’re in New York, Boston or Western PA.

Big Ten
Get a bracket just like this for all the major conferences and get your co-workers involved.

I think you get the idea….

What you’ll want to do is just set up a very standard bracket. For the Big Ten, you can print them right off at The amount of money you decide per entry is up to you and hopefully you’ve been your office’s ‘gaming commissioner’ long enough to know whether $2 per sheet is good or if $20 per sheet is the number.

I suggest filling out the bracket as you would any NCAA bracket but there a couple of things to consider. Because you’re dealing with a small amount of games, you might want to give point values to each round of the conference tournament.

This will help eliminate some potential ties but it won’t alleviate all of them. Therefore, you’ll need a tie-breaker and I have two such ways of going about this.

The most standard practice is to go with “Write in the final score of the conference championship game.” You could use point spread first or use closest in terms of total points for the tie-breaker as well.

The other option for tie-breaker (or as a second tie-breaker if you have a small number of players) is to have each entrant choose the tournament’s most valuable player. This can be quite fun because almost always we see teams make runs to the conference title game that we never saw coming.

That means a larger pool of players to potentially choose from.

Regardless of what you do, don’t wait around for Selection Sunday and March Madness. Get the madness going sooner by wagering on conference tournaments next week. Good luck!

Duke is Chalk on the Road at Chapel Hill

Rivalries exist at every stage of sports from high school to the pros. One of the biggest in college sports is renewed tonight when the Duke Blue Devils visit Chapel Hill to take on the North Carolina Tar Heels.

The game was originally scheduled for last week, but was delayed thanks to Mother Nature freezing the south and cancelling the game. However, they will finally take to the hard court on Thursday in what should be an action packed game.

Duke enters the game ranked No. 6 in the nation at 21-5 SU and 17-9 ATS. The Heels are unranked but are 18-7 Su and 14-11 ATS.

Duke is 10-3 in ACC play and has the fifth best mark ATS in the country. The Blue Devils are 8-1 ATS over their past 9 games, with the only loss ATS during this period a win over Maryland 69-67.

Jabari Parker the freshman sensation for Duke continues to impress in each game. Parker is now averaging 19 points and more than 8 rebounds per game. Sharing the offensive load for Duke is Rodney Hood who averages 16 points per game and Quinn Cook who is averaging 12 per game.

North Carolina is 8-4 in the ACC and has improved of late. Marcus Paige and Kennedy Meeks lead the offense for the Tar Heels.

North Carolina is 7-0 SU and ATS over its last 7 games played, which will make for a great matchup in tonight’s game at Chapel Hill.

Most sportsbooks including Bovada and opened the line on this game with Duke -1.5. Others such as topbet and betonline had the game originally at Duke -2 but have been bet down to the -1.5.

The Tar Heels started slow this season, but have recovered in fine fashion. In the preseason poll, North Carolina was ranked in the top 5 in the nation, but is currently unranked.

Duke has had success against tough opponents this season. The Blue Devils have beaten Michigan State, Kentucky and Louisville. However, the Blue Devils lost to Syracuse on February 1 in overtime in the Carrier Dome.

Some bookmakers have North Carolina sitting at -1.5 a three-point difference from most other lines, flipping the line to North Carolina.

North Carolina will look to force the pace of the game and make it faster than Duke likes to play. The OVER has cashed in seven of the past nine outings for North Carolina.

However, Duke is 6-1 against the number in its last 7 games in Chapel Hill and the UNDER has cashed in 5 of the past 6 games between the two teams in Chapel Hill and 8 of the past 10 overall between Duke and North Carolina.

I like Duke and the UNDER.

College Basketball Matchups, Lines, Picks

College basketball has taken center stage and with conference schedules well under way, teams are jockeying for position for their eventual conference championships and possible selection to March Madness.

This weekend, with football taking a weekend off, other than the not so popular Pro Bowl, NCAA basketball takes center stage.

These are two games highlighting the busy Saturday schedule in the NCAA.

Florida State vs. Duke (-8.5)

In the ACC, Florida State visits Duke. The Seminoles are 13-5 SU and 11-5 ATS and look for their eighth cover over their last 10 games against Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Duke is ranked No. 18 in the nation and is 15-4 SU and 11-8 ATS. The visiting team is 4-0 ATS over the past four games in this matchup.

Jabari Parker, the Duke freshman sensation leads the team in scoring with 19 points per game and averages 7.7 rebounds per game.

FSU has a shooting percentage of 52% on its three-point shots over its last four games, with Aaron Thomas hitting 8 of 13 during that span.

Florida State is 6-3 against the spread over its past eight games on the road. Duke has a 10-4 ATS record over its past 14 games at home. The UNDER has cashed in 4 of the past 5 games FSU has played on the road. The UNDER has cashed in 14 of the past 19 games played between the two schools.

Pick: Duke less the points

Michigan vs. Michigan State (-5.5)

Michigan visits Michigan State in a matchup of archrivals and two ranked teams. The Wolverines are red-hot entering the game and have moved up to No. 25 in the nation, while the Spartans have lost just one game this season and are ranked No. 3.

Michigan State is 18-1 SU and 10-6-2 ATS. The Spartans will be attempting to cover for the fourth consecutive game versus the Wolverines. Michigan is 14-4 SU and 9-6-1 ATS. The Wolverines have won eight straight games and two straight over ranked opponents. The Spartans are on an 11 game winning streak.

The Spartans however have some injury problems as Branden Dawson broke a bone in one of his hands while slapping a table while watching films of opponents. Adreian Payne is questionable for the game due to an injured foot. The two players combined average over 26 points and 16 rebounds per game.

Michigan does not have the injuries the Spartans have but will be without Mitch McGary who had back surgery to end his season.

Last season Michigan State won at home and lost to Michigan on the road.

The Wolverines are 6-1-1 against the spread over their last 8 games. Michigan State has a record of 8-2 ATS over its past 10 games. The UNDER has cashed in all 4 of the past four games between the two schools. The home team has covered the number in 4 of the past 5 games between the two schools.

Pick: Michigan plus the points

Looking Ahead to College Football in 2014 (Part One)

How will Kevin Sumlin and Texas A&M fare without Johnny Football in 2014?

Last night officially brought an end to the 2013 college football season (and the BCS) with Florida State’s dramatic 34-31 win over Auburn. Today I find myself no better than the folks who feel it necessary to look forward to the following season before the teams even leave the field from the BCS Title game. I’m going to take a look at what we can look forward to in CFB in some major conferences next year.

Note: The Pac-12, Mountain West, American Athletic and Independents will follow on Thursday.

SEC – Despite the streak of national titles ending at seven, I think the Southeastern Conference is still in good shape. The exception of course is that the play of quarterbacks is likely to be down with Aaron Murray, Zach Mettenberger, A.J. McCarron and Johnny Manziel off to the NFL.

Burning Questions for the SEC – How will LSU and Georgia fare with new signal-callers under center? Can Will Muschamp survive a poor start in Gainesville with the pressure he is under? How good can we expect Texas A&M to be in year one post-Manziel? Can Bret Bielema survive another down year in Arkansas and can Auburn top their run from 2013?

The Terps, and Rutgers, join the Big Ten for the 2014 season.

Big Ten -The Big Ten, which previously had 12 members, now has 14 and is still called the Big Ten. No wonder American kids are terrible at math. Rutgers and Maryland join the Midwest’s premier conference and with them comes realignment. Gone are the ‘Legends and Leaders’ divisions and in their place are the East and West. The Scarlet Knights and Terrapins will join Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State in the East.

The West will be Illinois, Purdue, Northwestern, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Minnesota and Iowa. The conference will also move to a nine-game conference schedule in 2016.

Burning Questions for the Big Ten… Who will replace Bill O’Brien at Penn State where the Nittany Lions still have two years of probation left? Can Ohio State rebound from two straight losses after their 24-game winning streak? Can Michigan State repeat as conference champion? Can Brady Hoke survive another mediocre season in Ann Arbor and can Jerry Kill stay healthy enough in Minnesota to keep coaching?

Big 12 – The biggest news from the Big 12 comes from Austin where the Texas Longhorns appear to have found their man to replace Mack Brown. Louisville’s Charlie Strong has agreed to become the next coach of the Longhorns and he will immediately be under the microscope by the burnt orange faithful. Not only does Strong have to compete with conference foes for recruits but his Longhorns have played second fiddle to rival Texas A&M the last two years as well and that never sits well in Austin.

Burning Questions for the Big 12… Does Oklahoma enter as a prohibitive favorite based on how they finished their season with wins over Oklahoma State and Alabama? With Bryce Petty and Art Briles both back in Waco what can we expect from Baylor? Is there a surprise team on the rise like Iowa State or Kansas and can Mike Gundy and the Cowboys finally get over the hump?

ACC – The Seminoles have wrestled the title away from the SEC and now will look to repeat but they know it won’t be easy as many guys will head to the NFL. Clemson will be in a similar predicament with Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins gone. With a year under their belts in the ACC, Syracuse and Pitt are out of the newlywed phase and expectations will be higher.

Burning Questions for the ACC… What will David Cutcliffe and the Blue Devils do for an encore after a great 2013? Does Virginia Tech bounce back or does another average season spell the end for Frank Beamer? What will newcomer Louisville bring to the table in the ACC without Charlie Strong and Teddy Bridgewater? If Al Golden returns to his alma mater of Penn State who takes the reins in Miami? Who plays QB at Clemson and how will Dave Clawson fare in year one at Wake Forest?


Clemson hosts Florida State in ACC Showdown

On Saturday, the Clemson Tigers will host the Florida State Seminoles in what is arguably the biggest game to be played in the ACC that was not played on a basketball court.

The betting line since the lines were first released during the summer and seen on sites like Bovada, and betonline, has dramatically changed. Last summer the opening line on topbet had Clemson as a 2-point favorite. Money actually was taken on Clemson moving the line to 3 points, before it pulled back to 2.5.

However, this week, the line opened and FSU was a favorite on the road by 3 points. That came despite the fact Florida State has had a huge inability to win at Death Valley dating back to 2001.

The majority of early action on the line is on FSU, according to people at Bovada.

Late Thursday the line was still on -3 for Florida State, with the total on 64.5.

Coaches, players and odds makers are impressed with how well redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston has played for FSU.

They speak of his composure in the pocket, his accuracy and power. Some have gone as far as saying he will be a better quarterback in the NFL than Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater.

Thus far, in the season, Winston has completed over 73% of his passes, thrown for 1,441 yards, 17 touchdowns and only two interceptions. His rating is 213.9, which is second in the nation.

However, on the other side of the field is Tajh Boyd the Clemson senior quarterback. Boyd has 20 touchdowns and just two interceptions.

This will be Winston’s biggest test of his freshman season. He will face between 80,000 and 82,000 fans of which 98% or more will be against him. Playing in Death Valley in front of that many hostile fans is not easy.

This matchup not only will make the Heisman race clearer, but it will determine the Atlantic Division winner in the ACC. The winner will also keep its hopes alive for a bid in the BCS Championship.

Florida State enjoyed a week off after cruising past Maryland 63-0. Clemson needed a late rally to get past a stubborn Boston College 24-14 last Saturday.

Clemson is 8-2 ATS in its past 10 games head to head with FSU. Clemson was an underdog on the road last season by 14.5 points but covered in their 49-37 loss to the Seminoles.

Pick: The trends are stacked too much in Clemson’s favor. I like the Tigers and the UNDER.