ACC tournament: Semifinals betting preview

NC State Wolfpack vs. Miami Hurricanes (-2, 139.5)

North Carolina State has been impressive in dispatching Virginia Tech and Virginia in the first two days of the ACC tournament. The Wolfpack will have to raise their game a few more notches against top-seeded Miami (Fla.) in the semifinals at Greensboro, N.C., on Saturday. North Carolina State won by an average of 18 points the first two games, getting contributions from inside and outside. The Hurricanes fought off a challenge from Boston College with a late run for a 69-58 victory in the quarterfinals.

Lorenzo Brown of the Wolfpack, who did not play in the 79-78 loss to Miami on Feb. 2 because of injury, will take on Miami’s Shane Larkin in a battle of two of the best point guards in the league and the nation. The other key matchup is inside between the top rebounders North Carolina State’s Richard Howell and Reggie Johnson of Miami.

TV: 1 p.m. ET, ESPN, ACC Network

ABOUT NORTH CAROLINA STATE (24-9): One concern after the 75-56 in victory over Virginia on Friday was the health of Howell. The senior forward played through a thigh injury in the second half and still finished with 12 rebounds. The Wolfpack will need him to be 100 percent and join C.J. Leslie to win the battle on the boards. North Carolina State was third in the ACC in rebounding margin, one spot behind Miami, in league games. Leslie has averaged 16 points and nine rebounds in the tournament. Brown has recorded 18 assists and three turnovers in the first two games and Scott Wood has drained 10 from 3-point range.

ABOUT MIAMI (25-6):
The 10th-ranked Hurricanes expect a lot from Larkin and ACC Defensive Player of the Year Durand Scott also provides leadership, but Kenny Kadji has quietly put together an impressive run. The 6-11 senior has averaged 18.6 points over the last five games and registered double-doubles in the last four. Kadji will have to come up big along with Johnson and starting center Julian Gamble inside to make room for outside shooters Larkin and Trey McKinney Jones, who combined for 32 points in the quarterfinals. Larkin, a sophomore, has averaged 16 points in his first three ACC tournament games.

TRENDS:

* Wolfpack are 5-1 ATS in their last six games overall.
* Under is 6-1 in Wolfpack’s last seven overall.
* Underdog is 5-0-1 ATS in the last six meetings.

TIP-INS

 
1. Miami has reached the tournament semifinals for the second time since joining the ACC before the 2004-05 season.
 
2. North Carolina State leads the ACC with 35 double-doubles - 17 by Howell.
 
3. The victory over Boston College improved Miami to 7-3 after trailing at halftime.

Maryland Terrapins vs. North Carolina Tar Heels (-4.5, 141.5)


Dez Wells has led Maryland back into contention for an NCAA bid. The sophomore swingman has 51 points in the last two games to carry the seventh-seeded Terrapins into the semifinals of the ACC tournament against North Carolina on Saturday at Greensboro, N.C. Wells poured in a career-best 30 points to beat No. 2 Duke 83-74 on Friday as Maryland limited the talented Blue Devils to 4-of-25 from 3-point range.

The Terrapins have good size and are one of the nation’s top rebounding teams but have dropped two games to the Tar Heels, who often go with a relatively small lineup. Third-seeded North Carolina hammered Florida State 83-62 in the quarterfinals, but suffered what could be a damaging injury late on the contest. P.J. Hairston, who scored 21 points against the Seminoles, suffered a cut on his left hand that required eight stitches and is questionable for Maryland.

TV:
3 p.m. ET, ESPN

ABOUT MARYLAND (22-11): The Terrapins looked as if they were headed for the NIT after some rough road losses, but they can make all their fans forget with two more performances like the one Friday. Wells came up big, but Maryland placed four other players in double figures including 7-1 sophomore Alex Len. Freshmen Jake Layman and Seth Allen had strong games against Duke and junior point guard Pe’Shon Howard may have been the most important with seven points, five assists and zero turnovers. Howard also had 10 points in the first-round game after going scoreless in four of his previous five contests.

ABOUT NORTH CAROLINA (23-9):
The Tar Heels have won seven of eight games as coach Roy Williams turned to a quicker lineup. Hairston has averaged 17.7 points in the last nine games and made 24 from 3-point range in the last eight contests. James Michael McAdoo and Reggie Bullock also average in double figures for North Carolina. The Tar Heels will have to play better defense if they are to have postseason success. Freshman point guard Marcus Paige, who had a career-high 10 assists Friday, will also have to play beyond his years. Paige had eight turnovers in the 79-68 victory over Maryland on March 6.

TRENDS:

* Tar Heels are 8-1 ATS in their last nine games overall.
* Terrapins are 0-4 ATS in the last four meetings.
* Under is 6-1 in Tar Heels’ last seven overall.

TIP-INS
 
1. North Carolina is first in the ACC in assists, one spot ahead of Maryland.
 
2. Maryland advanced to the semifinals for the first time since 2009 and the 29th time overall.
 
3. North Carolina has won 17 ACC tournament titles, second to Duke’s 19.

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