Best ACC Bets – Week 3

The ACC is back in action this week, despite the postponement of Notre Dame and Wake Forest’s conference battle, and we are here to give you our top bets you can make for Saturday’s slate of games. All these bets – unless included in our parlay – have odds that are better than -200.

Louisville @ Pittsburgh, OVER 55.5

Louisville put up 34 points against a pretty decent Miami defense, and that was with three turnovers. If the Cardinals clean up the miscues, I anticipate them being able to put up another 30-35 points against Pitt. Meanwhile, Louisville’s defense looked absolutely abysmal, and Pitt QB Kenny Pickett has the talent to take advantage of the blown coverages that the Cardinals offered up at an alarming rate. I think Pitt races to keep pace with Louisville, trying to avoid a home loss, and this game ends up with both teams putting up 30+ points.

Syracuse @ Georgia Tech, UNDER 52.5

Talk about two abysmal offenses in this match-up. In four total games, these two teams have combined for 53 points. That’s horrendous. They should both be 0-2 had it not been for Florida State’s equally abysmal offense against Georgia Tech in the season opener. Syracuse has a pretty solid defense overall, keeping UNC in check for three quarters, and limiting Kenny Pickett and the Pitt Panthers to 21 points. I think this game is an ugly, defensive slog, where whichever team can break 20 points will claim victory. I can’t picture this game hitting the over.

NC State (+7.0) @ Virginia Tech

I flinched on this one. I liked Virginia Tech at first, but the Hokies really struggled at the start of last season, particularly in an embarassing loss to a BC team that lost by 24 to Kansas shortly after, and they’re playing a team that is already a week into their campaign. NC State boasted a new-look offense that was dynamic last week, plastering 45 points on Wake Forest. While Wake Forest isn’t as good as Virginia Tech, I wouldn’t bet on this Wolfpack offense losing by more than a touchdown right now. I’d be tempted to take the +210 moneyline here, but I’ll just give the spread as my go-to pick.

Miami (-11.5) vs. Florida State

This is probably the one I’m least confident out of the four, but I really am going to heap the embarrasment on the ‘Noles here. FSU lost by 17 at home to Miami last year, and the Hurricanes look a lot better this season. Meanwhile, the Seminoles were an absolute embarassment in their home opener, losing to an unimpressive Georgia Tech team in Week 1. Nothing gives me confidence that FSU keeps this one close on the road against their rivals, currently ranked 12th. I’m leaning Miami by two touchdowns in this one, covering the spread.

The Rundown With Lapoint: Big 12, FSU Humiliated, Sun Belt on the Come Up

Nathaniel Lapoint: The Rundown with the kid who never played a down

The Humiliation of the Big 12

What an amazing week for everyone in college football except for the Big 12. The Big 12 got absolutely bullied this weekend by the Sun Belt Conference. The losses started in Des Moines, where the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns absolutely took it to the 23rd-ranked Cyclones and Brock Purdy. Let’s keep in mind that a lot of college football analysts had picked Iowa State as a potential opponent for the Oklahoma Sooners in the conference title game. The Cajuns’ special teams made sure all those analysts ate their words on Saturday, beating the Cyclones 31-14 with a pair of long touchdowns coming on kickoff and punt returns. Louisiana special teams alone would have tied former Heisman hopeful Brock Purdy on Saturday. 

The Cyclones weren’t the only Big 12 team to get stomped out by teams in the Sun Belt. Coastal Carolina for the second time in two years rolled the Mad Hatter and the Jayhawks in Lawrence. The Chanticleers put up 28 unanswered points to take a 28-0 lead into the half and went on autopilot in the second half on their way to a very comfortable 38-23 win. 

Luckily not everyone in Big 12 scheduled Sun Belt teams but one more unlucky member of the conference did schedule a game with a Sun Belt opponent and that was Kansas State. The best team in Arkansas – no that’s not a typo – went into the Little Apple, and showed the rebuilding Wildcats how to play football. Final score Arkansas State 35, K State 31. Arkansas State had a dominant performance from wide Receiver Jonathan Adams Junior, who caught 8 passes for 98 yards and three TDs. They also saw four different players complete passes en route to victory. 

Florida State Suffers Embarrassing Loss To Hapless Yellow Jackets

For anyone who stuck around through all of the lightning delays in the FSU GT game, you were in for a treat. In the first half, the Yellow Jackets threw two picks inside the red zone and had two field goals blocked. The exact same team that couldn’t do anything right especially in the kicking game came back from a 10-0 deficit at half time to beat the Seminoles in Tallahassee 16-13. Georgia Tech was picked to be the worst team in the ACC this season and turned in one of the worst performances I’ve ever seen by a Power-5 team in the first half and still won. The world of college football needs to apologize to Georgia Tech for talking that trash because this team went on the road in Week 1 of conference play – in the weird world of corona college football – and handed FSU one of the most embarrassing losses I’ve seen in years. This GT team left 21 points on the field ( 2 INT inside the 20, 2 missed FG, 1 missed PAT) and still won.

Florida State – you are quickly becoming a basketball school…

Duke is in business, and Notre Dame looks ordinary

Don’t look too much into the Duke Notre Dame game because both teams have a lot of potential this season. However, there are a few takeaways from the season opener in South Bend: Duke’s O-line isn’t that bad. In the first half particularly, they looked very competent at opening up running lanes against Notre Dame’s vaunted defense. They also only gave up three sacks in the game, which is not bad considering the overall expecations of this unit. This is a good sign for the Blue Devils because quarterback Chase Brice won’t be able to do anything with a terrible line. Chase Brice is going to be a good QB in Durham – he just needs time to settle in and become comfortable with his new team. This season is not geared towards transfer quarterbacks having success especially early in the season. If you’re a Duke football fan, if they come out of hiding before basketball season, don’t worry: you’re in good hands. 

Now for Notre Dame. The defense looks solid, but Jay Bramblett was arguably their best player and he’s the punter and Ian Book needs receivers… badly. Having lost his top three receivers from last year, Book turned in the 2nd worst performance of his starting career by quarterback rating. These Fighting Irish are solid and in a year without the Pac=12 and no Big 10 (as of now), they could have some success, but this team is not special in my eyes. 

Texas State Makes Me Sad

The Texas State Bobcats have made me so sad this season. I’m not disappointed in them – they just make me sad because they play well and are so close to snaring a result, but they can’t get out of their own way. In Week 1, the Bobcats almost took down SMU in Dallas but came up just short. As if last week’s loss to SMU wasn’t bad enough, this weekend, after battling back from being down 31-14, to UTSA midway through the third quarter. They tied it up on a 91-yard punt return with 1:16 left in the 4th, with an opportunity to take the lead with the extra-point, 42-41. Things were looking good for the Bobcats until kicker Alan Orona hooked the PAT to send the game to OT. Both teams scored in the first OT but in the second OT, Orona missed the game-tying 20-yard field goal, and UT San Antonio won 51-48. I’m not even a Texas State fan, but this team tears at my heartstrings and makes me sad every week.

The Sunbelt is making moves this season

The Sun Belt is on the up and up and if anyone tells you otherwise its because they don’t watch college football. Not only did they win three games against Big 12 opponents this past weekend, Appalachian State looked great in their opener featuring their third head coach in three years, and the South Alabama Jaguars also looked very good this weekend suffering a tight and controversial loss in Mobile on Saturday night against Tulane, as some questionable calls did not help their case. With the American conference struggling early this season look for Sun Belt to make a move at that Power 6 spot if this trend of great Sun Belt football continues.

Three Quarterbacks who had great opening weekend games that I could care less about:

Spencer Rattler: We have heard for a long time now that Spencer Rattler is a good QB and let’s be honest Lincoln Riley is one of the best QB coaches in the country. I very much expected Spencer Rattler to have a great debut against Missouri State which he did throwing for 290 yards and 4 TD in his one half of play. Sooner won 48-0

Sam Ehlinger: The Heisman hopeful from Texas opened his 2020 campaign against the always impressive UTEP (lol not). Ehlinger hung 426 yards and 5 Touchdowns on the Minors in his one half of play. Horns won 59-3. 

Trevor Lawrence: The likely 2021 first overall pick in the NFL draft also started his season on the road Saturday against the Demon Deacons. Lawrence threw for 351 yards and 1 TD and ran in 2 TD against Wake en route to a 37-13 win. Lawrence and the Tigers looked like they never came off of autopilot and cruised to an easy opening win over Wake Forest.

Top Returning ACC Guards: #3 – Jose Alvorado, Georgia Tech

We are officially past the halfway point of our top returning ACC guards countdown, and slotting in at #3 is Jose Alvorado of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. A three-year starter out of Brooklyn, New York, Alvorado shot 45% from the field last season and bumped up his scoring average to 14.4 points per game, to go with a team-leading 4 assists per game, as well as 3.4 rebounds. Alvorado’s bread-and-butter is his defense, as he lead the ACC with 2.2 steals per game, racking up as many as nine in a single contest. His versatility and production on both ends of the court earned him the #3 spot in our countdown of top returning ACC Guards. 

Alvorado was not exactly on a tear out of the gate last season, but as the calendar flipped to 2020, and ACC play began in earnest, the junior guard turned up the heat. In the first game of the new year, Alvorado, after not scoring more than 14 points in any game to that point, poured in 25 against UNC, while dishing out seven assists for the road victory. 18 and 20-point efforts against Duke and Virginia soon followed, and Alvorado began to tear it up on the court. He posted his lone double-double of the year at #6 Louisville (13 points, 10 rebounds) and torched NC State for 26 points, 9 steals, and 8 boards. 

Georgia Tech spent most of the season wallowing in the bottom half of the ACC standings, but behind the consistent and dynamic play of Alvorado, the Yellow Jackets skyrocketed up the standings in the final weeks of the regular season. Entering that aforementioned NC State game, Alvorado and Co. sat at 3-6 in conference play, but they used that big win as a launch pad, winning 8 of their final 11 ACC contests, and six of their last seven. In that stretch, Alvorado averaged 19 points a game to spur the ‘Jackets, and he boasted a four-game streak of at least 3 steals in each contest, highlighted by a 7-steal effort against Miami. Georgia Tech finished 11-9 in ACC games, their first winning record in conference play since 2003-04. 

Alvorado is evidently an elite defensive contributor, but he brings a versatile set of tools to the offensive end of the court as well, as he can shoot the three decently (35% in that 11-game stretch, 33% on the year), and he’s deadly efficient when he gets inside the arc, making shots at a 53% clip. At the free throw line, Alvorado sinks 80% of his efforts, and he posted some clutch performances at the charity stripe, including a 13-15 outing against Wake Forest to seal a critical road conference victory. A defensive stud and steady offensive contributor, Alvorado could be the driving force behind a potential Georgia Tech run back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2010.

Recruiting Headlines: LSU gets Kiner, Georgia Tech adds another playmaker

In today’s recruiting headlines, we certainly have a few notable names that made their verbal commitment from the Class of 2021. 

LSU steals Corey Kiner from Cincy, Louisville

Kiner is a four-star running back from Cincinnati, Ohio. Despite visiting the Bearcats twice, Cincinnati never seemed to be a huge favorite for the backfield star. Kiner was looking for Power-5 programs, and for a while, most people predicted him to commit to Louisville, remaining close to home while taking the chance to play for team on the rise in the Cardinals. However, LSU was a late comer, and despite his three visits and intense recruitment with Louisville, Kiner was convinced by the reigning national champions, who saw their workhorse back, Clyde Edwards-Hillaire, get picked in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Kiner had also visited Ohio State and Michigan twice each, but he said a virtual tour of LSU sealed the deal for him. Having averaged a touch under 2300 all-purpose yards in three years of high school, Kiner is the 7th-ranked back in his class. He joins recent LSU commit, four-star Garrett Nussmeir, in creating a formidable looking offense in the bayou. 

Georgia Tech gets a pleasant surprise

Four-star wide receiver James Blackstrain had previously announced his top-ten, with offers coming from Florida, LSU, among other big-name schools. Georgia Tech was not on his list, but the Yellow Jackets kept recruiting Blackstrain. Blackstrain then announced he would visit Georgia Tech before making a decision, and he then completely turned the tables by verbally committing to the Yellow Jackets after a virtual tour. Paired with fellow receiver recruit Malik Rutherford, Georgia Tech has clearly moved on from the triple option, and they look to be gaining momentum in the ACC from a recruiting standpoint.

Florida State comes in late, grabs 4-star cornerback
Long thought to be headed to LSU, the forecast on four-star cornerback Hunter Washington flipped last week, and the Tigers ceded their spot as favorites to the Florida State Seminoles. Washington confirmed that forecast yesterday by announcing his commitment to FSU. According to Washington, a borderline top-10 corner in his class, FSU was always on his list, even if the coronavirus pandemic prevented him from taking a spring visit. The Seminoles, who also beat out Oklahoma and Texas for Washington’s commitment, needed this, as they had not added a player to their Class of 2021 recruiting class since April 13. 

ACC Coastal Quarterback Rankings

The ACC Coastal division, as it has been for several years, is both the little brother of the ACC and completely wide open. The division has sent all seven of its teams to the conference title game in the past seven years, although none of them have emerged a winner. That trend figures to continue, as the winner of this division will have an uphill battle against Clemson, assuming the Tigers hold serve in the Atlantic Division. However, this should make the regular season highly interesting, as no team is truly incapable of making a run within the division. A key part of each team’s ability to make such a run will hinge on their quarterbacks, so let’s take a look at the rankings for the ACC Coastal signal-callers.

7. Chris Katrenick, Red-shirt Junior, Duke

Katrenick was a true backup in 2019 behind senior Quentin Harris, who started all 12 games for the Blue Devils. The former three-star recruit is a 6’3 red-shirt Junior from Algonquin, Illinois. He is just 8 for 25 passing in his collegiate career and is not in the best situation to succeed in Durham. Duke was 114th in total offense in 2019 and just 5-7 on the year. The sample size is very small for Katrenick, but with a lack of experience and not much offensive talent around him, it might be an uphill battle in 2020.

6. Brennan Armstrong, Red-shirt Sophmore, Virginia

Another guy who spent last season servicing as a backup. Unlike Katrenick, Armstrong is getting put into a good situation, as the Cavaliers spent most of 2019 ranked inside the top 25 and played in the ACC championship game. The former three-star is a  6’2 southpaw from Shelby, Ohio, and he looks to pick up right where last season’s starter Bryce Perkins left off. Perkins threw for 3538 yards in 2019, breaking the school’s passing record. Armstrong showed promise in his limited action in 2019 completing 15 of 20 passes for 196 yards. He could succeed in 2020 but he finds himself at #6 on the list largely due to his lack of experience. 

5. James Graham, Red-shirt Sophmore, Georgia Tech

Graham and the rest of the Yellow Jackets really struggled in their first season away from Paul Johnson and the triple option. In his red-shirt freshman season, Graham was the main guy under center in Atlanta. He came to Tech as a four-star commit out of Fitzgerald Georgia with big upside as a dual-threat QB. After a red-shirt year, he only completed 45% of his 193 passing attempts in 2019. He finished second on the team in rushing with 290 yards. Graham will look to make a jump in his second full year under center for the Jackets.

4. Hendon Hooker, Red-shirt Junior, Virginia Tech

After injuries left starting QB Ryan Willis sidelined, Hooker was forced into action in his red-shirt sophomore year making eight starts for the Hokies. At 6’4” the former four-star for Greensboro, North Carolina, is a very dangerous dual-threat quarterback who was second on the team in rushing a season ago with 520 yards. Hooker is also a very accurate thrower who completed 61% of his passes while only getting picked off twice. Coming into the season as the starter, Hooker is set up for success with more control of the offense on a team that is favored to win the ACC Coastal. 

3. Kenny Pickett, Senior Pittsburgh

It took us all the way to number three on our list to find a guy who has not taken a red-shirt season in his college career. In his true junior season, Pickett’s number took a massive jump, turning himself into one of the top passers in the conference. Pickett went from averaging 140 yards per game passing in 2018 to nearly 260 yards per contest in 2019. He was a three star-recruit coming out of Oakhurst, New Jersey, and tossed for nearly 3,100 yards in 2019, the fourth-most in the ACC. If Pickett’s numbers continue to raise he could be a late-round steal in the 2021 draft. 

2. D’Eriq King, Red-shirt, Senior, Miami

Don’t look now, but the U has a quarterback. King said enough with the University of Huston just four games into the 2019 season and decided to red-shirt to keep a year of eligibility, before choosing Miami in January. He is a very dangerous dual-threat QB who rushed for 674 yards in 2018 to go along with 2,982 passing yards. He accounted for 50, yes 50, Cougars’ touchdowns in 2018, the most in a single season in school history, and he also sat out the last 2 1/2 games with an injury. If King can put up anywhere near the production for his historic 2018 season, the Hurricanes will get what the so desperately crave: national relevancy

1. Sam Howell, Sophomore, North Carolina

Sam Howell had one of the best true freshman seasons in the history of college football in 2019. He was second in the ACC in passing with 3,641 yards, and he set the FBS freshman record as well as the UNC school record with 38 passing touchdowns. He was the 2019 ACC Rookie of the Year and took the Tar Heels from two wins in 2018 to seven wins in 2019, punctuated by a 55-13 beatdown of Temple in the Military Bowl. The sky is the limit for Howell in 2020, as the sophomore will look to build off of his incredible first-year campaign.

Wait ‘Til Next Year: NCAA Basketball Bottom 10 Power Conference Teams

No conference wins are a guarantee in college basketball, but a few are pretty close. Recently, our podcast discussed the worst teams in the country, and this article puts a spin on that, ranking the worst 10 teams in Power-6 basketball. #1 is who we consider the worst team in these rankings. 

Dishonorable Mention:

  • Boston College 
  • St. Johns
  • Pittsburgh

#10 – Wake Forest Demon Deacons

  • The Demon Deacon are saved from the basement of the ACC by North Carolina, but this team is just 4-12 in conference play and 11-15 overall. They’ve been competitive in some games, but they’ve hit some bad lows recently, losing by 17 to a dismal Miami squad and at home to a really bad Georgia Tech team. 

#9 – DePaul Blue Demons 

  • In a competitive Big East, where seemingly every team has a chance in every game, the Blue Demons simply do not. They are a horrific 1-12 in conference games – somehow defeating a ranked Butler team once. After going 12-1 with a weak non-conference schedule, DePaul is now 13-13 and on an 8-game losing streak. 

#8 – Washington State Cougars

  • The Cougars do have a 5-9 conference record, but that’s not saying much in an exceptionally weak Pac-12. They just lost at home to Cal, one of the worst teams in the conference, which is their second loss to the Golden Bears. They’ve been blown out by USC, Stanford, and their lackluster offense leads them to some really ugly games. 

#7 – Kansas State Wildcats

  • The Wildcats bring up the rear of the Big 12, which is entirely mediocre outside of Kansas and Baylor. The biggest headlines K-State has made this year has been their postgame brawl with Kansas. They are just 2-11 in conference play and 9-17 overall, with just one decent win over West Virginia saving them from slipping lower on this list. 

#6 – Texas A&M Aggies

  • This might be a harsher ranking than the Aggies deserve, but they have been so horrifically uncompetitive in so many games that they just played themselves onto this list. They went just 6-6 in a pretty soft no-conference schedule, losing by 11 to Harvard, 23 to Temple, and losing to Fairfield. They hosted Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, currently 10-16 and in 9th in the Southland Conference, and they won by just three. This team is not good, and it’s embarrassing to the SEC that they’ve half a dozen conference games. 

#5 – Cal Golden Bears

  • That bad Cal team that beat Washington State twice? Yeah, they’re going to make this list too. In compiling just an 11-15 record, including 6-7 outside of the barely relevant Pac-12, Cal has been blown out by the likes of San Francisco, Santa Clara, Saint Mary’s, Stanford, and USC, while also dropping home games to Boston College and Harvard. It’s not exactly a bevy of quadrant one losses, and they haven’t beaten any conference opponent that’s more than a half-game better than them in the standings. Tough look for the Golden Bears. 

#4 – Northwestern Wildcats

  • You may have thought the Northwestern athletic department hit their low point with a dismal football season, but they actually may be looking back fondly on their season on the gridiron, after seeing their product on the court. They’ve lost ten straight conference games and bring up the rear in the Big 10 with a 1-14 conference record. Their one win is at home versus Nebraska who – not to offer spoilers – will also appear on this list. Embarrassing results include losses to Hartford, Radford, and Merrimack. Wouldn’t surprise me if Northwestern’s ranked field hockey and women’s lacrosse teams start getting more attendance than their basketball team. 

#3 – Vanderbilt Commodores

  • This team may have been #1 on this list until they somehow manhandled LSU. But at 1-12 in SEC play, that remains their only conference win, as the Commodores sport a measly 9-17 record. They’ve lost to Tulsa and Richmond while also dropping six conference games by at least 15 points, including a 19-point decision to the aforementioned Aggies. At least it’s baseball season for Vandy. 

#2 – Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

  • I’m avoiding recency bias with this ranking. Georgia Tech has been one of the worst teams all year in Power-6 basketball. Somehow, they’ve won three of four including a stunner of a Top-10 Louisville team. Between November 28 and their recent hot streak, a span of over two months, the Yellow Jackets scored more than 74 points just once in an ACC conference hardly known for its defensive prowess. They’ve lost to Ball State by 18 points at home, and by 34 at home to Syracuse. They hosted Bethune-Cookman and barely defeated them as well. If the Yellow Jackets can keep playing well, maybe they’ll work their way off this list, but their offense remains a gigantic eye-sore that fails to remedy their early season woes. 

#1 – Nebraska Cornhuskers

  • The only Big 10 team to fall victim to the atrocious Northwestern team, Nebraska’s equally dismal season has them topping off our list of the worst Power-6 teams. The Cornhuskers have also lost ten straight, and they’ve lost home games to North Dakota and George Mason this year, the latter coming by 19 points. They’ve been blown out by UC Riverside and lost to Southern Utah, teams so irrelevant in the national picture, you may not have even heard of them or known they played D1 basketball before this article. Nebraska has a dismal record of success in most of their major sports, and that certainly does not exclude their basketball team, which is an embarrassment to Power-6 basketball.