In the latest update on the ACC, we’ll highlight what’s going on in the middle of the conference…otherwise known as the “mess in the middle”. Depending on the author, a picture is not always worth a 1000 words…but we’ll use one for the summary of both the middle of the ACC and where they are with respect to the NCAAT Bubble.
If your first thought was “what a mess”, then you’ve grasped the point of this chart. When I first saw it, I thought of a box of sand crabs trying to crawl on top of each other to get out of the box. As soon as one gets close to the top, it either falls back or is dragged down by the others.
I’m going start on this mess by justifying the range that I call “slim chance”. If you go back to the data that I use to evaluate teams on the Bubble, you’ll see that there have been years where no team with an RPI ranking >55 was selected for an at-large bid to the NCAAT. Also the highest RPI ever selected for an at-large bid was 74. For those with both the inclination and low-enough IQ to quote “Dumb and Dumber”, that data should pretty much define where “a chance” (no matter how slim) transitions into “no chance”.
During the UNC/UVA game, the announcers were wondering what the NCAAT Selection Committee would do with UNC if they finish with a losing record in the ACC. The answer is quite simple and unsatisfying…it depends on a lot of other things. But it is beyond doubt that a losing conference record is a huge negative when a team’s resume is reviewed by the NCAAT Selection Committee.
It might be a little early to be overly concerned about conference record, but only one team in this mess has a winning ACC record (Clemson). WF and UMD are currently at 3-3 and everyone else has a losing ACC record. At present, it seems unlikely that any of these teams (with the possible exception of UNC) could end up with a losing ACC record AND an RPI ranking high enough to warrant serious NCAAT discussion. At the very least, we will cover this subject again during the last Bubble Watch entry just before the ACCT.
The performance of the teams in the middle always seems to be about the same…an absolute dog fight when they play each other. What varies (sometimes greatly) is where you draw the line between top, middle, and bottom. To me, it seems like that there is a pretty big difference between the top 5 and any of these in the middle.
There is still time and opportunity for any of these teams to move onto and/or over the bubble. The open question is whether or not any of them have the ability required. From what I’ve seen, an absolute maximum of two teams from this mess will make the NCAAT and I wouldn’t be shocked if none of them did.
PLAYING FOR NCAAT SEED
Not much has changed since our last update, but Teams 2-5 all have a nice upward trend over the last two weeks. Upward trends will inevitably turn into either Plateaus or Peaks…but those fans can enjoy the upward ride while it lasts.
If there is a great amount of confusion on how an undefeated team can drop in the RPI ranking, then it might be time for another RPI refresher. But I suspect that the “give a shit” quotient for Syracuse is pretty low around here.
It is important to remember that the trends that we look at for the ACC are not taking place in a vacuum. All of the blanks in these charts are occupied by other teams that are doing their best to climb as well. Just for kicks, let’s summarize the teams at the top of the NCAA world and see if we can avoid logo over-load.
Let’s do a little simplistic math in regards to the NCAAT:
Most of the teams in the RPI Top 40 will get either an automatic or an at-large bid to the NCAAT.
19 other conference winners will get an automatic bid.
The NCAAT consists of 68 teams. Which means that only about nine teams with RPI >40 will get an at-large bid to the NCAAT. To me, this simplistic math emphasizes the “slim” in the label applied to RPI Rankings of 56-75 range discussed above.
Today’s History Lesson
After being pillaged by the ACC a second time, the old Big East split into two conferences. The football schools formed the American Athletic Conference and the basketball schools kept the Big East label. Along with the Big East, Conference USA is obviously the other big loser in the conference expansion wars. (In the past, there were years where C-USA ranked in the top 5 basketball conferences.) Looking over the standings, it appears that the Atlantic 10, Missouri Valley, and the MAC also lost schools to the AAC/BE duo.
Coolest Logo – Mountain West
Most Boring Logo – ACC
Stupidest Logo – Big 10
Dumbest Names – Tie between Big 10 (w/ 12 teams going to 14) and Big 12 (w/ 10 teams)
HOW DID I MISS THAT? (Part 2)
First I missed the fact that the ACC was playing conference games on Monday night. But I also missed that the FSU/Clemson game on 1/9 was the last Thursday night game until the ACCT. Not that anyone (ie ESPN) cares, but I prefer Thursday games over Monday even though that feeling is mostly based on “not the way it used to be”. But at least this break in the weekly schedule gives me two days to get an ACC Update thrown together before the next conference games jumble the rankings.
STATE’s UPCOMING SCHEDULE
State’s next two games are at home followed by a brutal stretch of 5 games out of six on the road. At the start of the season, it looked like State had four home games against teams good enough to highlight on an NCAAT resume. The first two of those games turned into blow-out losses and the third is a rivalry game that might not mean much to the NCAAT Selection Committee after the way UNC’s season as progressed to date. All of that means that next Wednesday’s game against FSU may be State’s last home game against a resume-worthy opponent.
It’s also worth noting that State’s conference SOS will likely turn out to be a little better than I thought at the first of the year as State plays the bottom four RPI teams (ND, GT, BC, VT) only once. But the top of State’s conference schedule is not overly ambitious with home/home games against Pitt, Miami, UNC, and WF…which translates into only six games against the top 5 teams in the ACC.