By virtue of finishing seventh in the ACC regular season, Virginia Tech earned a first round bye in the ACC Tournament, which began yesterday.
It will meet Notre Dame after the Fighting Irish fended off Pittsburgh by three points in its game on Tuesday afternoon.
Notre Dame might be the lower seeded team in the matchup but it’s getting the majority of the action and is a three-point favorite on the neutral floor at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
The Irish have been bet up to -3 after opening as a one-point favorite. It has been a trendy side ever since Bonzie Colson returned to the lineup after missing just about the entire season with a broken foot.
Before Colson went down, Notre Dame was one of the finest teams in the country, at one point ranked #5 in the nation after beating Wichita State by a point in Hawaii.
But that’s really all Notre Dame beat and it was crushed by Michigan State, lost to Indiana and also Ball State, all before Colson’s injury. It got a couple of wins to start ACC play before all the losing happened.
Since Colson returned, ND has beaten Pitt, lost by five at Virginia and beaten Pitt again in that conference tournament game. The first win over Pitt was a blowout but yesterday’s game was close the whole way and was decided by three points.
The assumption is pretty much standard with anybody you talk to: Notre Dame is back to being a tournament-quality team and may or may not get in, based on how it does in this tournament and whether or not the committee scrutinizes’s it mercifully.
But I’m not so sure this team is back just like that. It takes time to re-acclimate guys to playing with each other, even seniors, and Colson’s conditioning isn’t at where it was when he went out (which wasn’t exactly top-notch).
Virginia Tech, meanwhile, can really play. This is the only team that beat Virginia all season and it has wins over Washington, North Carolina, NC State, Duke and Clemson. Five guys score in double-figures and the team averages 39 percent from beyond the arc.
To me, Tech is flying a bit under the radar and all the expectations about Notre Dame coming back strong as a contender to win this tournament have gone a little too far. I have this game as a pick. It’s always nice to get points this time of year when it seems like just about every game in college basketball is coming down to the final few minutes and three points may go a long way for us here.
Free Pick: Virginia Tech +3