The Duke Blue Devils have won five ACC Championships since 2009. Photo by bradleypjohnson (Flickr).
- Virginia has the shortest odds to win the 2020-21 ACC title, followed by Duke and Florida State
- The Blue Devils finished fourth in the ACC regular season in 2019-20, and will feature the Nation’s second ranked recruiting class
- Read below for ACC analysis and a prediction on which school will win the conference championship
The start of the college basketball season is a little over a month away, and while plenty of details still need to be ironed out, Wednesday marked the official return to the practice court for the Duke Blue Devils.
WE BACK. (officially) 🏀🎉🐐 pic.twitter.com/xBCB18d7o1
— Duke Men’s Basketball (@DukeMBB) October 14, 2020
The program everybody loves to hate also announced the date of its first game, which will take place November 25th against the Gardner-Webb Bulldogs.
Much like nearly every season in the Coach K era, Duke is expected to contend for the ACC title in 2020-21, but they won’t start the year as the favorite. That title belongs to 2019 National Champion Virginia.
2020-21 Atlantic Coast Conference Odds
|Team||Odds to Win|
Odds taken Oct. 14th at DraftKings.
The Blue Devils’ ACC Championship odds opened just a hair behind the Cavaliers, and just ahead of Florida State. Duke said goodbye to six players from last season’s team, including three projected NBA Draft picks, but as always help is on the way.
2021 NCAA Men’s Tournament Championship Odds Tracker
Blue Devils Eager to Get Back on Top
The Blue Devils boast the top recruiting class in the ACC, and the number two class Nationally. They added six of the top-55 overall recruits, including four 5-star prospects.
First 𝗼𝐟𝐟𝐢𝐜𝐢𝐚𝐥 practice. You know the vibes. pic.twitter.com/g8HV2YBPOQ
— Duke Men’s Basketball (@DukeMBB) October 14, 2020
With yet another extremely young team, the new recruits will be counted on to play a big role. Duke finished fourth in the ACC regular season in 2019-20, a rare down year in an otherwise phenomenal decade. Since 2010, the Blue Devils have averaged 28.9 wins per season, made three Elite Eight appearances and captured one National Championship.
“Hard workers, enthusiastic, they get along… They’ve been a source of energy.”
🐐The latest on the squad from Coach K… (with a slight Countdown update too 👀👀👀) pic.twitter.com/73DKkxalZp
— Duke Men’s Basketball (@DukeMBB) October 4, 2020
The new talent coming in should drastically improve the team’s long range shooting, something that plagued them a season ago. Duke shot just 35.2% from 3 in 2019-20, which ranked 79th Nationally. Most of the newcomers possess elite shooting skills, and many are excellent ball handlers, which has prompted speculation the team might emulate the type of small ball lineups they used when Tre Jones, Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish were on campus.
Nevertheless, it’s hard to overlook the lack of experience on the roster. The Blue Devils have proven they can win with young teams in the past, but no one is confusing this lineup with the freshman led team that won it all in 2015.
Seminoles a Serious Contender
Florida State meanwhile, is returning 12 upperclassmen, including eight seniors. Yes, they’re losing their top-two scorers from a season ago, but this is a program that is now considered among the ACC’s heavyweights.
Locked in 🔒 pic.twitter.com/Y6fJRrIGfL
— Florida State Men’s Basketball (@FSUHoops) October 14, 2020
The Seminoles, the defending conference regular season champions, are 29-9 in ACC play over the past two seasons. They’re chalked full of athleticism and are one of the biggest teams in the conference. They don’t feature a single significant player under 6’4, and will rotate three giants who stand 6’11 or taller.
— Florida State Men’s Basketball (@FSUHoops) October 8, 2020
Defense will once again be their calling card, but there is some concern about their point guard play. Last season’s starter Trent Forrest has moved on, and there is no clear consensus on who his replacement will be.
For years this program has been missing an alpha at the position, which is one of the primary reasons they haven’t had a dominant offensive team. They win games by grinding their opponents down, which has worked extremely well, but to win the conference title they’ll need a true leader at the point.
Cavaliers are a Complete Team
Which brings us to Virginia. The Cavaliers are the last team to win a National title (in 2019), and have won four ACC regular season titles and two conference championships since 2014.
How it started: How it ended (🏆): pic.twitter.com/dSzVsP2Ran
— Virginia Men’s Basketball (@UVAMensHoops) October 6, 2020
Virginia finished tied for second in the ACC last season, and have reloaded with the Nation’s third ranked recruiting class. A handful of players still remain from the 2019 National Championship team, giving Tony Bennett an experienced roster, with plenty of exciting young talent.
Like most Bennett coached teams, this edition projects to be strong defensively, and while last season’s team lacked a go-to scorer, that won’t be the case in 2020-21.
It’s Sam Hauser’s House, and we’re all just living in it. A triple extends @MarquetteMBB’s lead to 13! #MUBB #BIGEASThoops pic.twitter.com/Nu2NTqsfqQ
— #BIGEASThoops (@BIGEASTMBB) February 22, 2018
That’s because former Marquette star Sam Hauser has transferred in, giving Virginia a top-10 player of the year candidate. Hauser is a career 44.5% long range shooter, and averaged 15 points and 7 rebounds as a Junior in 2018-19.
A rock solid nucleus and the addition of some much needed scoring from Hauser has prompted experts to list Virginia as the seventh ranked team in the NCAA.com preseason power rankings. They’re the only ACC squad to crack the top-10, and a deserving favorite to capture their third conference title in the last seven years.
Pick: Virginia (+215)
Chris began his career at Hockey Night in Canada over 15 years ago. He has since worked at TSN for over 12 years as a writer, line-up producer, field producer, newsroom supervisor for Sportscentre, and presently as a promotions producer.