2013 Preseason Review

Mr Wuf red uniform PNC Arena

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:

A discussion explaining and defending my definition of the Bubble

The first half of this entry is a simplistic discussion and explanation of that most frequently misunderstood stat: RPI.

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.


Schedule Observations:

- 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:

Georgia Tech
Notre Dame
Miami (Fla.)
Florida St.
Wake Forest
Va. Tech


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.

About VaWolf82

Engineer living in Central Va. and senior curmudgeon amongst SFN authors One wife, two kids, one dog, four vehicles on insurance, and four phones on cell plan...looking forward to empty nest status. Graduated 1982

13-14 Basketball Stat of the Day

Home Forums 2013 Preseason Review

This topic contains 32 replies, has 19 voices, and was last updated by  Rick 3 months, 1 week ago.

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    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.
    [See the full post at: 2013 Preseason Review]



    Forgot a disclaimer

    The RPI and SOS numbers were taken from CBS Sports yesterday afternoon. Yes I hate to visit the home of an unusually large number of State-haters, but I like their RPI breakdown. Problems with the math is their problem, while any transcription errors are mine.

    There is great deal of volatility in the RPI numbers this time of year, so don’t get too worked up about differences between the CBS numbers and your favorite site. For instance, from yesterday to today State’s RPI ranking has improved and their SOS ranking has worsened (which is very strange).



    Good article. Thanks for sharing. Little bit of mixed feelings on Maryland. I don’t like ‘em, so it doesn’t hurt to see them go. But I do hate to see the old ACC get further broken up, even if that old ACC is long dead now.



    “Sail with the Pilot,…”

    Great analysis, as always. Opportunity to make the Dance, I think, but close to zero margin for error.

    Love the take on the Twerps’ schedule, hadn’t seen that called out before.



    MD had to go because they were foolish with the $$. Hope all involved learned from it.



    20 wins prior to the ACC and a win in the tourney has usually been a good formula. I agree that the loss to NCCU would probably fault that opinion this year. If you want to look at the schedule and find the most likely losses you would probably come up with @ Cuse, Duke, and UNC. That leaves 15 games and I would think we would have to be very, very good at home. 10-8 would give us a chance. 12-6 and we would look good finishing 22-9. Seems like a long shot but I’m going to be a believer for now. If we can get consistent scoring out of 2-3 players other than TJ we could be very good. We have not found that yet. The talent is there but we are going to need some guys to grow up in a hurry. Let’s play them one game at a time and see what happens. Beat Pitt!



    Thanks for you work, as always.

    Even though it’s early season rpi, I am surprised Pitt’s rpi rates as high as it does given their schedule thus far.

    I don’t think we have much of a chance to reach the tourny, but it will be fun watching the team. Go Pack.

    You can’t take much from results against common opponents, but Maryland – who has been pretty bad this season – just beat Central by 14 the other day :(



    Good work. It just reaffirms what I already was thinking – we have a lot of work to do. Certainly not impossible but very little room for error.

    I just hope we can show some good solid improvement with this young team to set the stage for a better chance at it next year.



    I subscribe to the ’20 wins heading into the ACCT and you’re solid’ theory as well. But I don’t see that happening this year, so I think our best shot is to pull off a couple of upsets and get to 20 with a couple of ACCT wins. Then I think we have a shot at the NCAAT.
    That means we need to win 8 before the tournament.
    I think we’ve got a pretty good shot at WF (2), GT, Miami(2), Clemson, VT. Unfortunately, 4 of them are road games. So assume we take 2 of the 4 and win the home games, that’s 5.
    So I’m looking for 2 -3 wins from the tier two teams, Pitt, ND, MD, FSU and BC. Four of them are home games. So lose the road games and split the home games, and we only have to steal another one from somewhere.

    It’s a stretch, but if we keep getting better, maybe …

    An upset over Pitt Saturday would be a great start at trying to build a tourney resume.



    Since we have an 18 game schedule and the tournament, I would set our magic # at 11 wins in our next 19 conference games. That record would probably give us enough quality wins combined with a minimum amount of head scratching losses and would give us an RPI in the 50s (I suspect) on selection Sunday. If we hit 12 we are a lock. With 13, we could have a decent seed.

    In general, I loathe the RPI. I think its lazy and is specifically designed to benefit mid-majors. I prefer pomeroy’s rating



    Overall wins is a meaningless stat, dance card-wise. The committee has made that clear.

    What will matter most for us is how our OOC foes play the next few months, particularly TN. A road win against a Top 50 OOC team would be good, Top 25 would be fantastic.



    In general, I loathe the RPI. I think its lazy and is specifically designed to benefit mid-majors. I prefer pomeroy’s rating

    I know absolutely nothing about Pomeroy, Sagarin, or any other ranking system. Since the other ranking systems are not used for anything real, it’s not worth my time to follow them.

    I think that you are both right and wrong about the RPI benefiting mid-majors. The last change to the RPI calc gave a higher weight to road wins and home losses. This change benefited the best mid-majors over teams at the middle of the BCS conferences.

    However, the SOS component gives a major advantage to teams from the power conferences. As we saw over and over during the Herb years, a miserable OOC schedule + middle of the conference results + one good win in the ACCT earned State multiple at-large bids to the NCAAT. That wouldn’t have happened in a mid-major conference.



    One random thought, from watching the Big East marathon on NYE – what they’ve done is essentially create the SEC football of mid-major basketball. It will be very interesting how that alters the major vs mid-major landscape.



    The most encouraging thing I have seen is the fact that Tennessee absolutely destroyed UVa. That provides some hope that the win in Knoxville may eventually mean something. The loss to MIZZOU really hurt, especially after having a ten point lead and then just crapping our pants. The scramble slap slap offensive rebound that lead to the banked in 3 – pointer may well end up being the play that sends us to the NIT.

    I have a couple of reasons to still hold out hope. Lo Brown, who didn’t have the natural PG instincts of Cat Barber, got noticeably better with making the right reads in the UCLA offense as his first season progressed. I think Cat will continue to get better. The second reason is Washington/Freeman/Anya. I’m encouraged by their progress already. They might get us over the hump in a couple of Top 50 or Top 25 games that we will need in order to make the NCAAs. On the negative side, an injury to TJ would make us a 4-14 team in conference at best.



    No – it wouldn’t have. However, the drag is that you have to play and beat those teams….and you have to avoid losing to talented teams that won’t make the tourney.

    I would love to see the math on what the UNCG road did vs a home loss to Missouri.



    This is a very enjoyable post, Thank you.

    This analysis, while fueling the hunger for tourney talk, is extremely premature. That’s not a criticism of the post (as I am very hongry) – But just a fact that needs to be stated. I mean, based on the data presented – UMASS is the best team in the country!

    Just sayin’… RPI is gonna be ‘fluid’ in January.

    Here’s to 6+ wins for State in January!



    The great thing about league play is that it will raise the RPI of most of the conference, so and early conference season victory over currently #97 Notre Dame could become a top 50 or 60 victory by the end of the year.

    I agree with the notion that if we win 12 we are a lock. We we really need to ask for is our team to play in an un-NC State like manner, which is to win the games we should win (which would give us 10 wins according to the current RPI ratings) and pick off 2 of the 8 that we shouldn’t.

    And for every WTF! we have from here on out, we need to beat a Duke, Pitt, Syracuse, UN* to make up for it.

    Personally, I’m looking forward to watching this team grow.



    This analysis…is extremely premature.

    Are you sure? Last year’s entry at the same point in the season correctly identified the four ACC teams to make the NCAAT.


    I’ve looked back once before to compare the conclusions reached from the OOC schedule to the actual tourney selections. That year:
    - The two teams graded “IN” made the NCAAT
    - 3 of 5 Bubble Teams made the NCAAT
    - Only one team graded “OUT” turned their season around and made the NCAAT

    At some point, I’ll have to dig up all of the old entries and see how many teams played their way into or out of the NCAAT with their conference schedule. But my main point is that even though less than half of the regular season has been completed, ACC teams good enough to make the NCAAT have generally accomplished something of note by this point in the season.



    This analysis isn’t premature. The season is more than 1/3rd over. It is pretty set in stone now what we have to do to make an at large bid likely. One thing about the RPI and conference, I wouldn’t expect that our entire conference’s RPI ranking will change much. In essence, everyone is swimming in the same fishtanks now so the number of slots is somewhat predetermined (I would think)…this doesn’t mean that the acc can’t get all the “in” and “bubble” teams and US in, it just means you won’t see 8 teams from the conference getting in



    I think projections on what we’ve seen thus far are worth very little, other than to form a potential projected curve. Due to all the new components, NC State is far from a finished product. Much more so than most.

    Barring a shockingly extreme performance (good or bad) through the first half of the ACC season, a 2nd half push (or flop) probably determines our NCAA fate.

    From looking at the schedule, 5-4 or 4-5 is probably a rational, objective, expected baseline half way through conference play.

    Then it’s on, with the second half starting with Miami and Wake, before heading to Syracuse. My way too early and little informed projection has that game as our touchstone.



    “I think projections on what we’ve seen thus far are worth very little”

    I misspoke, or mistyped, and there’s no edit function.

    I meant to convey projections at this point in the season are worth much less than other seasons due to all the new components.



    ” UN*”

    Just my opinion, but in think the asterisk should be on the “u” for university, and that the letters should always be lower case, reflecting the appropriate level of respect and stature that institution has earned.



    Fun debate. Again, the Pack tantalizes us with possibilities.
    A most interesting season is unveiling in front of us. We’ve got a lot of talent, including the best player in the league, most of which we’re seeing inconsistent glimpses of. We all feel like if we could pull it all together we could do some real damage.

    I think the question becomes, can this coaching staff put it all together that quickly? I really want to believe, but I am skeptical. I’ll be very impressed if they do it … and think it bodes well for the Pack long term.



    Simple. If we can offset the loss of efficiency on the offensive end with much improved defense, which will create better opportunities to score, then maybe we dance. I think we’ll improve our offense in the half court, and I defense may also improve, but I’m not convinced that either will be good enough. Gottfried’s teams don’t have a track record of sound defense. Offense looks to be a challenge for this team.



    “If we can offset the loss of efficiency on the offensive end with much improved defense, which will create better opportunities to score, then maybe we dance. “

    ^Agree completely. Defense (and by extension defensive rebounding) leading to transition is our best hope. I’m not sold that our half-court offense will improve.

    I love our bigs – Vberg’s been great in transition and Anya great on the defensive end (w/r to blocking shots) – but currently they + Barber are not executing any type of fluid half-court offense.

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