Happy New Year to Wolfpack Nation. It is that time of year for black-eyed peas and cornbread, hang-over remedies, the final Bowl games, and one of my favorite hobbies….the Annual Bubble Watch.
Born during the days of the Great Herb Debates, our long-time readers are familiar with these entries where we take RPI, conference record (not included today obviously), and Top 50 wins to determine where the ACC teams sit with respect to receiving an at-large bid to the NCAAT. Before I get to my first table, let me give a couple of links for our newer readers so that they can catch up with what we are trying to accomplish with this entry:
My past over-use of quotation marks as a way to express my inherently snarky nature has finally caused problems by playing heck with the formatting in these older entries (at least when I look at them in Firefox and IE8). When you get to some weird characters in these old entries, you’ll have to figure out whether a quotation mark, apostrophe, or possible bullet should be mentally substituted for the weird characters.
So here is my summary of who has done what to whom and what it all means:
Random Observations on the ACC (while saving State-specific comments for a minute)
- Opinions may vary, but I think that the ACC’s performance thus far pretty much sucks…and would be even worse without two of this year’s new teams.
- Once again, Clemson is near the bottom of the conference in pre-season SOS (actually at the bottom this year). I swear that this trend goes back to when I was in high school when they would start the ACC schedule with a great record and then fade to the middle or bottom of the conference. (To explain my perspective, I distinctly remember watching Tree Rollins play on Sat afternoon/Wed night along with the Jefferson-Pilot theme song.)
- Even though Clemson’s OOC schedule is (once again) inexcusable, no team has reached the truly pathetic depths of Seth Greenburg’s scheduling while he was at VT. (I think that it is fair to say that Seth managed to schedule his way out of coaching and into broadcasting.) In other words, it doesn’t look like any team’s OOC scheduling has set themselves up for punitive measures by the NCAAT Selection Committee.
- While I would grade Duke’s OOC schedule as “better than average”, it is one of the worst schedules that I’ve seen Duke play since I’ve been writing about this topic (ie back to the days of the HSSS.)
- It is truly impossible to say how good Pittsburgh is going to be this year. They have only played two Top-100 teams and lost one of those games (Cincinnati, which at #52 is the highest ranked team Pitt has faced this year).
- UNC has been inconsistent thus far: Home loss to Belmont (RPI #65) versus home win against UK (#14). Road loss to UAB (#100) versus road win against Mich St (#20). Good News for UNC fans… the top 50 wins have virtually guaranteed UNC an at-large berth. (They could coast into the NCAAT with a 10-8 ACC record.) Bad News, those losses have lowered their RPI to the point that getting a 1 or 2 seed in the NCAAT will be extremely difficult.
I began working on this entry about two weeks ago and was looking at the best wins for each school. The results were frankly shocking. But luckily over the last two weeks, this table has gotten a lot less depressing. (For example, State’s best win -Tenn- has improved about thirty spots in the RPI rankings).
Is there any confusion over why the ACC is currently mired in 5th place in the conference RPI rankings? Looking at this table makes me conclude that more teams besides Pitt have something to prove to the NCAAT Selection Committee.
NC State Observations
This is Gottfried’s lowest-ranked OOC schedule since taking over in Raleigh. But I see no reason to really complain about that for several reasons:
- Gott has already proven (and not just with words) that he understands the importance of OOC scheduling.
- Any team that loses to NC-Central shouldn’t be complaining about needing a tougher schedule.
- Having complained long and loud over Sendek’s poor scheduling, it’s hard to get worked up when Gott’s worse schedule still ranks as “average”.
- So I’ll choose to go with an optimistic assessment (BJD, quit laughing) and conclude that Gott realized that this team couldn’t handle a tough schedule AND will return to norm with a better team (hopefully next year).
It’s tempting for me to conclude that any team that loses to NC-Central can pretty much start aiming for the NIT as a best-case scenario. While that conclusion may ultimately prove to be correct, it is too early to be quite that pessimistic just yet. (But when I combine the NC-Central and Mizzu losses, I don’t reach any rosy conclusions.) State still has enough quality games left on their schedule that they can earn a spot in the Big Dance…if they’re actually good enough.
- On a general note, the new ACC schedule has 4 games home/away, 5 away games and 5 home games for a total of 18 conference games. As we’ve seen in the past, this type of unbalanced schedule has the potential for creating quite a variation in conference SOS for the ACC teams. At this point in the season, State’s schedule looks like it would rank somewhere in the upper-middle in terms of difficulty.
- The rotation includes two permanent “partners” and everyone else rotates. I expected the ACC to keep at least one permanent partner to maintain the two Duke/UNC games, but I was a little surprised when they selected two. (I didn’t check, but the ACC usually puts up the multi-year schedule on their website. But they might not put up a multi-year rotation until after Louisville takes UMD’s place in the ACC.)
- It would have been possible to keep all four home/away games as permanent partners. If you take this option to an extreme, you could actually create three permanent basketball divisions. But before anyone starts screaming about wanting this option to keep the four NC schools in the same division, do me a favor: BUY A MAP AND LOOK AT IT. Three geographical divisions would put three NC teams and the two VA teams in a “Central” Division.
- If we include UVA as a resume-building opportunity, then State has 8 games BEFORE the ACCT to do something worthy of attention by the Selection Committee….with four at home and four on the road.
- Playing FSU and UVA at home certainly qualifies as good news for State.
Here’s a few comments when looking at the schedule chronologically,
- State plays back-to-back road games (WF /Duke in mid Jan and UNC/UM in the first week of Feb)
- State has a three game road stretch in mid-Feb (‘Cuse, Clemson, and Va Tech).
- Adding those previous two bullets together, State plays five road games in a six game stretch from Feb 1 (@UNC) to Feb 22(@Va Tech). The home game in that stretch is WF on 2/11. State’s “off-week” is also in that stretch of road games (ie no games between @UNC on Sat, Feb 1 and @Miami on Feb 8).
- After that stretch of road games, State ends the regular season with three of four at home, with the final game of the season in Raleigh against BC (Really????)
Yea, I know…conspiracy theories are usually hatched by idiots with no life and can generally be ignored. But here’s one that I wouldn’t laugh at.
First we need a little background. 60 years and a few months ago, seven teams left the Southern Conference to form the Atlantic Coast Conference. A few months after its formation, UVA was added as the ACC’s eighth member. This is UMD’s last basketball season in the conference that it helped form. What kind of send-off do you suppose was created for UMD in their one and only season in the 15-team ACC? Here’s UMD’s home schedule:
One home game against the other original seven teams. Five of eight home games against the six teams that took the ACC from 9 teams to 15. Doesn’t look like there’s much history in that home schedule.
In other words….Don’t let the door hit you where the Good Lord split you.