# The Real ACC SOS – State’s The Toughest

Since the ACC plays an unbalanced conference schedule, it should be obvious that some teams will play a harder conference schedule than others.

Last year, we developed an analysis technique to which Atlantic Coast Conference squads played the toughest and the easiest conference schedules. This year, both Coach K and the N&O have already chimed in with their thoughts.

So, letâ€™s see if we can do a little more thorough job than they did. 🙂

NEW TECHNIQUE

Last year, I totalled conference wins by each teamâ€™s opponents and then ranked the various teamâ€™s schedules. The â€œtotal winsâ€ technique has one obvious flaw which was discussed in the comments to last yearâ€™s entry: The teams at the bottom of the conference â€œcontributeâ€ a lot of wins to everyoneâ€¦thus inflating their conference SOS.

This flaw is relatively minor as long as you donâ€™t try to compare the SOS of the regular season champion with the teams at the bottom of the conference. However, I did say last year that there was always the possibility of coming up with a new technique.

This year’s technique is not really new, itâ€™s always been used in the RPI formula. When calculating a given teamâ€™s SOS for the RPI calculation, the opponentsâ€™ winning percentages do not include the games against that given team. We can use that same principle and look at the opponentsâ€™ adjusted wins (now that Iâ€™ve figured out how to do it in a spreadsheet and not completely by hand.)

Hereâ€™s an illustration of the new technique using NC State and the two VA teams:

 Excerpt from NC State’s Opponentsâ€™ Win Totals Total Adjusted Wins Wins Virginia 11 9 Virginia 11 9 Virginia Tech 10 10 Virginia Tech 10 10

State played both Virginia teams twice, thus the Wahoos’ and Hokies’ conference win totals are used twice when calculating Stateâ€™s SOS. In last yearâ€™s system, the two VA teams would contribute 42 wins towards Stateâ€™s SOS. Using adjusted wins, Stateâ€™s two losses to UVA are not included when calculating Stateâ€™s SOS.

If Iâ€™ve confused anyone, either ask questions in the comments or just trust me.

RESULTS

So without further adoâ€¦here are the results for 2007:

 Opponents’ Adjusted Wins North Carolina St. 122 Duke 121 Clemson 117 Virginia Tech 117 Maryland 115 Georgia Tech 114 Miami FL 114 Wake Forest 113 Boston College 112 Florida St. 112 North Carolina 112 Virginia 111

DisclaimerThe total wins analysis had a built-in self checking technique, but this one doesnâ€™t. So, there is always the chance that Iâ€™ve fat-fingered something. If you find a problem then please let me know in the comments.

OBSERVATIONS

* Several weeks ago, I said that the team that finished highest in the conference among UVA, VT, and BC should win ACC Coach of the Year. But after seeing the conference SOS results, I would now vote for Seth Greenburg of Virginia Tech.

* Coach K was a little off on his projections. Iâ€™m not sure why he was even bringing up the conference SOS issue. He certainly canâ€™t be feeling any heat in Durhamâ€¦.do you think heâ€™s embarrassed by his teamâ€™s results this year?

* The N&O said that Duke couldnâ€™t have the toughest schedule because they canâ€™t play Duke. This yearâ€™s results donâ€™t support the assertion that playing Duke significantly contributes to anyoneâ€™s SOS. 🙂

A CLOSER LOOK AT STATE

– There are five teams that earned double-digit conference wins this year. State played nine games out of a MAXIMUM of ten potential games against these five teams.

– State only had six games against the other five teams at the bottom of the conference.

– Stateâ€™s three road-only opponents this year were GT, FSU, and Miami. These three teams won a combined 19 conference games but 15 of those wins were at home. This type of â€œbad luckâ€ can be obvious when you look for it, but is nearly impossible to quantify.

– Bottom line – Stateâ€™s conference schedule was clearly the toughest in the conference and nearly as hard as theoretically possible.

From my perspective, I would rather for State to have the toughest schedule when their post-season hopes were minimal than during a bubble year. It would really be tough for your conference schedule to play a major role in going to the NIT. If you look at last yearâ€™s results, it would be easy to make the argument that UMD might have made the NCAA Tournament with an easier conference schedule.

CONCLUSIONS

We have to be really careful about the conclusions drawn from the conference SOS. The HSSS used to try and wave their hands to make losses disappear. I ridiculed those attempts in the past and will not hesitate to do so in the future.

That does not mean that this type of analysis is meaningless. Iâ€™ve already mentioned one potential use for these results in analyzing coaches – Seth Greenburg and VT both deserve major props for outstanding results against a difficult schedule. If you go back to last yearâ€™s entryâ€¦I said the same thing about Roy Williams and UNC-CH then. Tough schedules reveal good teams; and VT has earned the title of a good team this year.

– Several VT grads that I work with have pointed out that they would have won the regular season title if it werenâ€™t for NC State. It makes me chuckle when they say that they hope that someone else can beat State on Thursday.

– Itâ€™s always difficult to evaluate a coach when circumstances beyond his control leave him with a depleted team. However, itâ€™s hard to imagine any coach doing substantially better than Sidney Lowe has done this year. When you throw in Stateâ€™s recruiting class for next year (and the one after that); it shouldnâ€™t be hard to see why most fans are extremely optimistic about the future.

– One word of caution, coaches should be evaluated for winning more than expected; not losing less than expected. If youâ€™re confused about the difference then look up Pete Gillenâ€™s record and see when he was given a 10-year contract extension.

– With one of the easiest conference schedules, Florida State has still managed to lose enough games to land squarely on the NCAAT bubble. Where would they be if they had played a tougher conference schedule? (Donâ€™t forget that FSU had a three-game losing streak BEFORE they lost anyone to injuries.)

– Before anyone accuses me of needless Seminole bashing then realize that FSU has managed to stay on the bubble through two different losing streaks because they substantially upgraded their OOC schedule versus last yearâ€™s. I suspect that this yearâ€™s ACCT is essentially the NCAAT play-in game for FSU.

RUNNING TOTAL

Since I used last yearâ€™s results to work out the spreadsheet formulas for adjusted wins, I might as well post the results from both years of unbalanced schedules with 12 ACC teams.

 CONFERENCE SOS 2006 2007 UM 123 NCSU 122 UNC 123 Duke 121 VT 120 CU 117 UMD 119 VT 117 WF 119 UMD 115 FSU 115 GT 114 Duke 114 UM 114 UVA 114 WF 113 GT 112 BC 112 NCSU 112 FSU 112 BC 106 UNC 112 CU 103 UVA 111

I find it interesting that the spread from easiest to hardest is much closer this year than last year. I attribute the difference to the fact that the top of the ACC is both deeper and bunched closer together this year. Because of this, Iâ€™m resisting the temptation to total the adjusted wins for each team.

Itâ€™s also interesting to see that Virginia Tech had one of the toughest schedules both years while Boston College had one of the easiest. This would be the perfect place to insert something witty about ACC expansion. but nothing comes to mind. Iâ€™m sure that our readers can come up with something for me.

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

### 34 Responses to The Real ACC SOS – State’s The Toughest

1. choppack1 03/05/2007 at 4:50 PM #

GA – In a year where there was a lot of parity, you’d think that would be the case…

I don’t think it’s coincidence that UNC and UVa finished a game above UMd, VaTech and BC when you look at those #s. I wonder, does the ACC make an effort to NFLize their schedule? I still don’t know who decides what or how in terms of scheduling – but I think you can see that this could have a huge impact. It could be the difference between NCAA tourney bid – w/ a decent seed – and no bid at all.

2. Glen Sudhop54 03/05/2007 at 4:50 PM #

Thanks Noah^ Expansion was a huge mistake. At least I can say that I was always against it. I think it’s losing money instead of making money. And, that damn Championship Football game has not been a success. That is the only reason expansion came about. Swofford has nearly ruined the conference by letting the absolute thugs from VaTech and Miami into the league.
Also, for those of you who attend the Tournament–Arent you sick of seeing guys like Rick Barry, Bimbo Coles, Alan Bristow being honored as ACC Legends??? THEY NEVER PLAYED IN THE ACC!!!!!!!!!!
It would be the same thing as Bobby Cremins and John Roche being honored as SEC Legends because they played at a school that moved to the SEC from ACC.(South Carolina) People are now just figuring out that we have an unbalanced basketball schedule?
DUH!!!!
Expansion is the biggest mistake the ACC has ever allowed to happen next to allowing Maryland to fire Lefty because Len Bias overdosed.

3. GAWolf 03/05/2007 at 5:36 PM #

I don’t think you can make a blanket statement that the Championship Game is a flop based on one completely crazy year where Wake makes the game out of nowhere. This football season was a pretty uneventful year for the ACC… minus Wake’s fantastic run. Nationally speaking, Wake’s run probably was not the best thing for exposure and excitement surrounding the Championship Game.

4. shellnc 03/05/2007 at 10:05 PM #

We need divisions just like football. Play a round robin with your own divison. and play 8 games against the other 6 teams.

5. VaWolf82 03/05/2007 at 11:40 PM #

I still donâ€™t know who decides what or how in terms of scheduling

The ACC has a master schedule on their website. The home/away/both rotations have been spelled out ever since BC joined the conference.

6. TNCSU 03/06/2007 at 8:55 AM #

My biggest concern is that I think State should play UNX, Wake, and Duke home and away EVERY year…with the rest of the league, I’m fairly ambivalent, but the Tobacco Road teams should play twice per year.

7. choppack1 03/06/2007 at 8:55 AM #

Why do we say expansion was a mistake? Without expansion ACC football would be an even bigger joke than it is now – and that’s saying a lot.

I think BC and VaTech have added something to the conference – I’m still trying to figure out what Miami brings to the table, but I’ll probably find that out my next road trip to Coral Gables!