New ACC Tournament Format

2014-ACC-Tournament-Logo

With conference expansion swelling the ACC to 15 teams, the conference either had to pick a new tournament format or kick the bottom three teams out.   I would have been OK with either decision, but the ACC is going to use the same tournament format as the one used by the Big East from 2009-2013.

The ACC office must have issued a press release with that little piece of info (probably over the summer), but I missed it somehow.   In case anyone else missed out on the news, let’s take a look at the new ACCT (or old BE) format and also take some time to drive a few stakes in one more piece of nonsense that floats up every year during bubble discussions.

 

NEW TOURNAMENT FORMAT

The 15/16 team conference tournament format basically takes the concept of the LRI to the next level.  (There’s an acronym that google won’t help you with.)

-   On Wednesday, the bottom six teams play to determine who is going to move into 12 team format that the ACC has used for the last several years.

- On Thursday, seeds 5 thru 7 play the Wednesday winners along with the 8-9 game.

- Seeds 1-4 get byes to the first two rounds and play on Friday (just like the 12-team format).   Semis on Saturday and finals on Sunday finish up the ACCT a couple of hours before the Sunday evening NCAAT Selection Show on CBS.

Here is a pdf with the bracket and this year’s game times.

 

ANALYSIS

The ACC/BE tournament format is not one that I would have chosen, but I’m finding it hard to get too worked up about it.

-        This format does reward teams for finishing in the first four slots, but is that really needed?

-        The format isn’t really fair to the bottom six teams, but does it really matter?   How far do you expect the bottom third+ of the conference to go anyway?

-        The 64+ team NCAAT has essentially killed the drama from the old ACCT.   The ACCT basically just boils down to the last chance for the bubble teams to get a big upset or someone looking for a #1 seed in the NCAAT.   (You can be sure that Boeheim cares about the ACCT this year because he never wanted to move to the ACC and he’ll want to make a point.)

Bottom line…it is what it is.   We can’t change it and it doesn’t totally suck.   The biggest “issue” is going to come when teams tie for the 4th and 9th seeds….especially if the loser of the tie-breaker actually played a tougher conference schedule.    But once again, it is what it is and I’m content with letting the print media or someone here break down the tie-breaker rules and various possibilities as the regular season comes to a close.

The more interesting analysis is what does the new format mean for the bubble teams?

 

HARD TO KILL (Part 2)

Lestalt

“Win one in the ACCT and then we’re in!”

People that spew this line about any bubble team are probably in the same demographic as those that watch the Sasquatch and UFO shows for late-breaking news on their respective phenomenon.   The 12 team ACCT completely voided this concept, though a lot of people evidently didn’t get the memo.   So let’s look at what we can expect from the 15 team tournament along with a little historical perspective from the 12 team ACCT.

Stake #1

In the 15 team ACCT, how many teams do you think will enter the ACCT with their ticket already punched or are looking to climb above the Bubble?   I’m going to put the IN group at around 4-6 teams and the BUBBLE group at 2-5 teams most years (with more teams “IN” leaving fewer teams on the bubble).    Another way to look at this issue is to glance at the new ACCT format and answer this question….In an average year, how many bubble teams do you expect to see playing on Wednesday with the #10 to #15 seeds?   My answer is “probably none” (and definitely none this year).

But even if you have a bubble team playing on Wednesday, does anyone expect a victory over one of the worst three teams in the conference to mean anything?   The Thursday games aren’t much better with the bubble teams playing either a team from the bottom half of the conference or another bubble team (at best).   Let’s list the Thursday matchups just to be crystal clear:

  • #5 vs #12/#13
  • #6 vs #11/#14
  • #7 vs #10/#15
  • #8 vs #9

You would have to envision an insanely deep conference to imagine that any of these match-ups would produce anything resembling an impressive win to the NCAAT Selection Committee.   At best, you will have one bubble team playing another bubble team.  The more likely scenario is that a team that is already IN or on the bubble will play one of the dregs of the conference.

There are many, many examples to show that beating other bubble teams is not always good enough.   Here’s one example that sticks in my mind from a couple of years ago.  ASU was 2-0 over Arizona and didn’t get an at-large bid even though Arizona did.  (Those two wins were the only ones ASU had versus the Top 50 and Arizona had better wins.)   In the ACC, it also happened to VT in 2008 when they beat UM in the ACCT and went to the NIT while UM went to the NCAAT.

It doesn’t take much imagination to see how a loss on Thursday could move a team from the Bubble to OUT.   But there is simply no matchup compelling enough that a win on Thursday followed by a loss on Friday to one of the Top 4 seeds would guarantee an at-large bid.    Win on Friday and then you’ve got something worth talking about.

Stake #2

Now we’ll move past logic and take a look back at history.   In 2008, VT finished 9-7 in conference play and earned the #4 seed.   Miami was the #5 seed (8-8) and won their opening round ACCT game over #12 NCSU.   VT won the Friday game against Miami easily (63-49) and lost a heart-breaker to the eventual champion UNC (68-66, with some questionable calls going UNC’s way).   Net Result?   VT got a #1 seed to the NIT.

Now compare the Wed/Thurs games in the new ACCT to the VT/UM game from 2008.   The odds of a bubble team getting a better win on Wed/Thur than the one that VT got in 2008 (versus #34 Miami) are pretty small…damn near microscopic.   Thus it is silly to make proclamations about what one ACCT win will do for a bubble team.

Stake #3

For those that are still not convinced, I’ve got one last stake.   Here’s an article that boils down the bubble to 19 teams looking for one of the last 5 spots.   The accuracy of this projection is not nearly as important as the concept that there are a lot of teams fighting for the last few spots.   To be sure of capturing one of those last spots, a bubble team needs something positive, not just avoiding a big negative during the ACCT.

So just exactly how is a win against a bad team on Thursday followed by a loss to a good team on Friday supposed to move (or keep) your bubble team ahead of other teams that keep winning?   Basically, anyone claiming that a Thursday win is all that is needed is also assuming that a bunch of other bubble teams across the country will lose as well.   Possible?….yes.  Probable?…not so much.

But even beyond the stupidity of betting on long odds, there is a serious problem with assuming that most bubble teams will lose early in their conference tournament.   That possibility only helps your team, IF your team was out in front to start with.    How sure can anyone be on that point?

 

Bottom Line  

If a team isn’t IN before the ACCT, then it needs something significant to be sure of getting in.   No matter how you look at it, a win against a team from the bottom half of the ACC on Thursday won’t count as anything significant.   You need to beat one of the Top 4 seeds on Friday before a bubble team has accomplished anything worthy of discussion.

PS:   In addition to the obvious conclusion discussed above, I draw several other ones from the 2008 ACCT tourney:

-        ACCT seeding doesn’t help with NCAAT selection or seeding.

-        There is no such thing as a good loss.

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

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This topic contains 33 replies, has 19 voices, and was last updated by  choppack1 7 months ago.

Viewing 25 posts - 1 through 25 (of 34 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #41738

    VaWolf82
    Keymaster

    With conference expansion swelling the ACC to 15 teams, the conference either had to pick a new tournament format or kick the bottom three teams out. 
    [See the full post at: New ACC Tournament Format]

    #41741

    tractor57
    Participant

    If a team is not in before the ACCT the only way to insure a bid is to win it all. That obviously is very difficult/next to impossible for the bottom teams, pretty damn difficult for the mid tier teams and only of impact in potential seeding for the top 4 teams. Agreed a lot of the character of the ACCT died once more teams than the tourney winner were incited. Even so for a college basketball fan the concentration of so many games in such a short period of time is appealing. As to like/dislike this format given the size of the current ACC I really don’t care. Lots of problems with any format in my opinion and like you I don’t see a better format. What this does is put the emphasis on winning during the season over teams with decent RPI numbers (and a few “signature wins”).

    #41745

    VaWolf82
    Keymaster

    If a team is not in before the ACCT the only way to insure a bid is to win it all.

    Herb proved that this wasn’t true a decade ago.

    #41746

    tractor57
    Participant

    You miss my point. The only way to INSURE a bid for a team that does not have one prior to the ACCT is to win all. Winning through Saturday probably earns a bid but that is not guaranteed. Winning on Saturday PROBABLY garners a bid but it is not cast in stone.

    #41748

    Pack85EE
    Participant

    The format is about the best it could be for a 15 team conf. The bottom six get a chance at a Tourney win or two. The middle teams, who might be on the bubble, get an easier game and then one that means something for the all important top 50 or top 25 win list.
    The question is often pondered, is it an advantage on Friday to have played one warm up game, or is the advantage to the fresh team. We know some teams start their first game cold.
    One thing is clear, when it comes to a 3rd game against a 2nd, or a 4th game against a 3rd, the fresher team has a definite advantage.

    #41749

    VaWolf82
    Keymaster

    We have different definitions of “sure”. The selection process is well-known and easily predicted. The only suspense on Sunday night is over the last few at-large bids (and of course seeding).

    #41752

    Wulfpack
    Participant

    If I am a top four seed I want as few games as possible. You’ve got other things on your mind, and you don’t want to tire out/be exposed to injury before the Big Dance.

    #41754

    13OT
    Participant

    The only thing you need to know about the upcoming ACCT’s new 15-team format is GENERAL ADMISSION seating for Wednesday and Thursday. This is a clear admission that ACC officials see a continued decline in fan interest and will be desperate to sell tickets. Adding an extra day to the tourney will only make things worse, and will hasten the tourney’s move northward.

    Walk-up ticket sales in NYC would certainly surpass the numbers in Greensboro, especially with the continuing decline of nearby Wake Forest and NC State. Again this season, as has been the case nearly every season for the past two decades, neither of these teams has a snowball’s chance of going to the post-season, so there goes a large chunk of local fan interest. As much as Duke and UNC have carried the ACC in the past two decades, I don’t think they can do it alone anymore with the new teams and the lure of the NYC dollar. Lord knows I hate NYC and the new ACC/Big East, but the reality is that teams like Wake and State are being swallowed up by this new league.

    For next year’s ACCT, I’d vote to get rid of the opening round altogether, and move the ACC Championship back to Saturday night, which would give all the NCAAT-bound ACC teams an important extra day’s rest. This expanded league is enough of a grind as it is, and a longer ACCT will only make it tougher in March.

    #41755

    Pack85EE
    Participant

    13OT Do you really think NYC will better support viewing the bottom 6 teams.
    I think it will be the fans of those teams that will be the main attendees. I think it’s the opposite. I live in Greensboro and I am the type that would walk up to see NCSU on Wednesday or Thursday. Fans buying book tickets are those that want to see the top teams, but the GA format lets fans of the bottom team attend with out forking out big bucks for the whole weekend. So I go see NCSU on Thursday and if we win, I pick up a side of the road ticket for Friday and if we win…..

    But, who knows, it’s all about TV money isn’t it?

    #41758

    VaWolf82
    Keymaster

    But, who knows, it’s all about TV money isn’t it?

    Good point and it especially applies to the Wed games. What else is ESPN going to broadcast that would get more viewers?

    Here’s the format I would have used:
    - Give the #1 seed a bye until Friday
    - On Wed #2-#4 play #13-#15 with winners getting Thursday off.
    - On Thurs, #5-#12 play.
    - Quarters thru Finals stay the same.

    I’ll bet that my format would get more viewers on Wed than the format chosen.

    #41762

    PittsburghPackFan
    Participant

    Good thing it isn’t up to me…

    I would just drop the bottom 7-8 teams and start the Tournament on Friday. NO PLAY-IN GAMES. Can’t finish in the top half of the conference? See you next year.

    #41766

    Pack85EE
    Participant

    PPF’s plan is best for the 8-5 spot. Not wore out vs the top 4 (in days played).
    VW’s plan also gives the lesser teams a bit of a break but not as much (4 days straight, vs 3 games in 4 days).
    You could also take the current format and let the upper ranked team play at home Monday and Wed for the Wed Thursday games. Home team fans will fill the seats better than anything going. Then start the 8 team 3 day tourney with all fresh legs on Friday.
    But the ACC does not care about fairness to the lesser teams.

    #41767

    Pack85EE
    Participant

    But it just seems like 6 of 1, 1/2 doz of the other. At least we don’t have the Les Robinson invitational to get invited to every year.

    #41768

    Wufpacker
    Keymaster

    But the ACC does not care about fairness to the lesser teams.

    At least they got that right. Tournament seeding isn’t about giving lower seeded teams a break but rather rewarding higher seeds with regard to opponent and scheduling (ie…rest).

    That being said, I do like Va’s format as far as a happy medium between that aspect and having something interesting on all five days.

    #41769

    MP
    Participant

    my format

    I think you mean Coach K’s LRI mercy format.

    Let me be the first person this year to say:
    “Win one in the ACCT and then we’re in!”

    #41770

    BJD95
    Keymaster

    Man, is Wednesday ever going to full of televised abortions.

    The interesting thing to me is how many layers it creates. For example, 9th gets you out of Wednesday. 7th is the minimum to ensure you play a Thursday foe that’s on short rest.

    #41779

    packof81
    Participant

    13OT is right about the ACCT moving north. Boeheim was pre-complaining about having to play in Greensboro last year. Sooner or later, it will happen as ticket sales here decline further.

    The ACC was ruined long ago.

    #41780

    rlgray
    Participant

    I am old enough to know (because I was there) what the LRI was (is)!

    #41781

    PapaWolf
    Participant

    I read the article, then all the posts. And then I realized I don’t care.

    If the Pack gets good enough to do some damage some day, then I’ll care about the format and the seedings. For now, it’s about ‘how long can we avoid losing?’

    And then the NIT. Is it even televised anymore? If so, I can’t imagine why.

    #41782

    ryebread
    Participant

    If a team isn’t IN before the ACCT, then it needs something significant to be sure of getting in. No matter how you look at it, a win against a team from the bottom half of the ACC on Thursday won’t count as anything significant. You need to beat one of the Top 4 seeds on Friday before a bubble team has accomplished anything worthy of discussion.

    The ACC is dead. Kill the ACC tournament too. It does nothing for the league at this point, except maybe add some TV revenue.

    I’d argue that a team that makes a deep run in the ACC tournament, but doesn’t win it is actually hurt by doing so (unless it gets them off the bubble). The winner at least gets to hang a banner and gets an emotional and confidence booster. The loser often is rewarded with tired legs on a tight turn around to the NCAA tournament, particularly with this “Last 4 in” strategy. Hello first round upset.

    For the bubble team, there is a chance to get off. Really though, with the new look ACC and the merger of conferences, there should be enough bids to go around. Cancel the tournament, and go schedule some real teams non-conference. Take care of business and you’re in.

    Clemson is this year’s example of poor scheduling. With the win last night, they should be trending towards the positive side of the bubble based on what they have accomplished in league play, and thus how they stack up nationally. Their schedule will keep them out though.

    Maybe if there was no ACC tournament, no proverbial “get out of jail free” card, then the coaches would get motivated to play tough schedules. They couldn’t just hold out hope that maybe their team would get hot at just the right time and get in.

    That’s one thing that I can say for Gott. I have no complaints with the scheduling strategy.

    The other added benefit of no tournament is that the ACC regular season games would mean more. I would also argue we’d have a more legitimate champion. The conference season is long enough anyways at 18 games. Now they’d be 18 meaningful ones.

    #41786

    VaWolf82
    Keymaster

    …there is a chance to get off.

    You shouldn’t leave straight lines lying around like that. :-)

    #41788

    BJD95
    Keymaster

    Alternatively, you could have a tourney for teams 8-15 only, winner gets NIT bid. LMAO.

    #41792

    MP
    Participant

    Totally agree with Ryebread.

    What they ‘should’ do is kill the ACCT and play two additional regular season games. The odds of playing valuable games would increase for the teams that actually need to play valuable games. And just crown the leader in the standings as conference champion. But instead… we’ll get a (more) watered down version of something that used to be awesome.

    #41793

    pakfanistan
    Participant

    The other added benefit of no tournament is that the ACC regular season games would mean more. I would also argue we’d have a more legitimate champion. The conference season is long enough anyways at 18 games. Now they’d be 18 meaningful ones.

    I don’t think you can make that argument with an unbalanced schedule.

    Why not split the conference in half, go 8 and 8 home and away, and let the winners from each division play a “championship”.

    "I want my ten dollars!" -Abraham Lincoln
    #41795

    PittsburghPackFan
    Participant

    Alternatively, you could have a tourney for teams 8-15 only, winner gets NIT bid. LMAO.

    In all seriousness, I would totally do that for my #9-15 ACC-leftovers tournament

    Why not split the conference in half, go 8 and 8 home and away, and let the winners from each division play a “championship”.

    I could get behind that, but I would want to split it up “old ACC” (including FSU) vs “new ACC/Big East” (VT and Miami onwards)

    OLD | NEW

    NC State | Virginia Tech
    Duke | Boston College
    Wake | Miami
    Virginia | Syracuse
    FSU | Pitt
    Clemson | Notre Dame
    Georgia Tech | Louisville
    UNX | ?

    That even looks like a pretty balanced set of divisions, strength-wise (at least to a moron like me) Forgive the formatting

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