- Led by Marquette transfer Sam Hauser, Virginia is the early +190 favorite to win the ACC conference title in 2021
- Duke (+250), Florida State (+450), and North Carolina (+700) are expected to be UVA’s biggest challengers
- A look at the title odds for all the ACC teams and analysis of the conference race can be found below
Technically still the reigning national champions due to the 2020 NCAA Tournament being wiped out, Virginia enters a shortened 2020-21 season as favorites to win the ACC at +190. The Wahoos only return two players from that title-winning team, but enter this season with high expectations to make another deep March Madness run thanks, in part, to Marquette transfer Sam Hauser.
In a conference that includes three of the last five NCAA tourney champs, the Cavaliers will face stiff competition from Duke (+250), Florida State (+450), and North Carolina (+700), who round out the top-four favorites in the ACC title odds.
The ACC slate gets underway Tuesday, Dec. 15 and ends on Saturday, Mar. 6.
2020-21 ACC Regular Season Title Odds
|North Carolina State||+5000|
Odds as of Nov. 22 at FanDuel.
Heavy Is the Head?
How Tony Bennett’s team handles being the ACC favorites — while still the NCAA defending champs — will be interesting.
As noted above, the Cavs may not have a ton of experience playing deep in March coming back to Charlottesville, but they do have depth and talent. Hauser is a big part of the latter.
The former Golden Eagle forward is a sharpshooter from beyond the arc, averaging 44.5-percent in three-pointers with a total of 553 career attempts during his Marquette career. He’ll be called upon to jell with returning guards Kihei Clark, Casey Morsell and Kody Stattman. Incoming four-star recruit Jabri Abdur-Rahim will be fun to watch as well. The son of former Cal standout and 12-year NBA vet Shareef might be one of the best freshman in the country come tourney time.
With a top-3 recruiting class — on top of two five-stars returning from its top-3 2019 class — Duke is as talented as ever. But during these uncertain times, the Blue Devils’ biggest asset might be their Hall of Fame head coach.
With no fans at Cameron Indoor, reduced media interaction and his players in a bubble, Coach K’s experience — along with his assistants and support staff — will shine. And having players like Jalen Johnson leading the way certainly helps.
Compared to Virginia, it seems like Duke is undervalued in this spot. Yes, they will be tested early by Big Ten powerhouses Illinois and Michigan State. But having those games to draw from will help them come conference play.
When he’s not trolling John Calipari over the Kentucky-Louisville rivalry, Cardinals head coach Chris Mack is busy being one of the most underrated coaches in college basketball.
The blueblood programs will, in fact, meet Dec. 26 at the KFC Yum! Center. The always-anticipated matchup is one of eight of Louisville’s 27 scheduled games against preseason top 25 squads. Of course, the Cards will likely end up playing more than eight contests against teams that are nationally ranked at the time.
Louisville is rated No. 28 by Ken Pom — just ahead of fellow ACC teams like Syracuse and Virginia Tech — for a few reasons. Yes, the Cardinals lost players like Lamarr “Fresh” Kimble, Keith Oddo and Jordan Nwora, who was taken by the Milawukee Bucks in the second round of last week’s NBA Draft.
But Mack brought in graduate transfers Carlik Jones and Charles Minlend from Radford and San Francisco respectively to help fill the void. Meantime, incoming freshmen JJ Traynor & D’Andre Davis should make an impact for this dangerous Cardinal outfit.
A key player to watch will be Samuell Williamson. The former McDonald’s All-American didn’t have quite the freshman campaign he hoped for — but I fully expect Williamson to develop before our eyes this season. Combined with the physicality and scoring ability of Davis and Minlend’s abilities at the three-spot, the Cards should get some solid play from the wing next season.
While Virginia should contend, I’m fading the Cavs as the chalk for the ACC title. I love the intangibles both Duke and Louisville bring from a coaching perspective.