Will Miami or Duke Win the ACC?

By Daniel J.

The Miami Hurricanes seemingly come out of nowhere this season. For a team that is known for its football prowess, Miami has impressed and surprised college basketball fans and bettors by winning 21 of their first 24 games, climbing to the No.2 ranking in the nation. Similarly, the Canes also hold the No. 2 spot in the NCAA Tournament futures odds at 11/2, slightly behind Indiana at 5/1. The question is: Can they finish off this dream season with a ACC championship, or better yet an NCAA title?

Nobody’s questioning whether or not the Canes are deserving¬†of their current ranking. By going 13-0 in the ultra-competitive ACC so far this season, Miami has validated its standing and they will undoubtedly earn the No. 1 for the conference tournament. But let’s face it. The ACC has long been Duke’s conference to win or lose, and with the Blue Devils sporting another elite college squad this season, you have to realize that Coach K’s team won’t simply lay down and let the Canes walk over them.

This hasn’t been Duke’s finest regular season campaign, but you can’t really knock a 23-3 team – one that is also 9/1 to win the NCAA title – that hard. However, although the Blue Devils have the better overall record, all their losses have come in the conference, putting them three games back of the Hurricanes in the ACC.

With North Carolina, Maryland, Florida State and Wake Forest all suffering from down seasons, the ACC has become a two-horse race, but which one will pull away at the end?

Of course, Duke being three games back at the moment will assuredly cost them a top spot in the ACC tournament, but all they have to do is knock off Miami in the finals and they are back on top. However, Duke has already found out that beating Miami is easier said than done. Many bettors and fans will recall the severe drubbing that the Blue Devils endured a month ago, losing to the Canes 90-63 on Jan.23. Of their three losses this season, that one was by far the most painful and the most embarrassing.

That loss came in Miami, so it could be a different story when the Canes travel to Cameron Indoor Stadium on March 2. Of course, a Duke win there will not change the seeding of the tournament, but it would definitely give the Blue Devils confidence for a meeting between the teams in the ACC tournament itself.

Although Miami has played exceptionally well all year, it’s hard to go against Duke to win the ACC. They have so much experience and such a long history of success that it’s hard to imagine Miami knocking them off in the ACC final. However, if things continue to play out like they have in 2013, then the Canes will have no trouble claiming the ACC throne. For now, I’m sticking by the Devils, but all eyes will be on both teams when they square off on March 2. That game could change minds.