Mid-Season ACC Review

As we reach the mid-point of the regular season and move into conference play, I thought it would be interesting to take a little time and look at what has been accomplished thus far in the season. So here is a summary of State’s season to date:

RPI Rank – 96
OOC SOS Rank – 247
Overall SOS Rank – 202 (Includes WF game)


Jan6 States Results

Note: This breakdown comes from CBS Sports. Go here if you want to follow this type of information as the season unfolds.

A few random thoughts:

– To date, State has only played one game against a team that is on track to receive an at-large bid to the NCAAT.

– With only two-Top 100s win at the half-way point of the season, anyone talking about improvement, NCAAT, or NIT needs to be taken with a rather large grain of salt. (Note that Marquette had a big win last night against #14 Georgetown to move into the Top 100.)

– For all of the heat generated by the Florida game, the actual impact on the season is nearly imperceptible. Florida is neither a good team, nor a bad one. Thus the loss isn’t embarrassing (except for the way it was lost), nor would have a win have constituted anything significant.

– In past seasons, we’ve compiled and discussed the OOC SOS for the ACC. Sidney is continuing Herb’s tactic of playing one of the weakest OOC schedules in the conference. Anyone that attributes that trend to “bad luck” simply hasn’t been paying attention. BTW, look for the already bad OOC SOS to take a big drop once State plays NCCU….currently 0-13 vs Div 1 opponents.

For a little broader perspective, let’s summarize the season for all of the ACC teams with each team’s games broken down into categories:

Jan6 ACC Summary


– I highlighted a few items of general interest
– OOC SOS ranked 200+ with special emphasis on UM’s 300+ ranking
– Top 25 and Top 50 wins (required to get at-large NCAAT bid)

– I generally hate the NCAAT brackets done early in the year. Very few teams are actually “In” during Jan (though a good number are definitely “Out”). So think of my NCAAT projections more of a judgment of the season to date, rather than a prediction. The teams that are “In” have done well and just need to continue. The “Bubble” teams need to step up and improve their resume to insure that they fall on the right side of the bubble.

– The ACC is currently ranked third by RPI (behind the Big East and Big 12). Interestingly enough, the Atlantic 10 is ranked 5th pushing the Big Televen and Pac-10 into 6th and 7th.

– Many people around here have commented that the ACC is weaker this year. I think that this table supports that conclusion because there only two teams currently on track to the make the NCAAT and five teams pretty much out of contention (barring a dramatic turnaround).

– It’s shouldn’t be hard to see that there is a very real possibility of having a 9-7 conference record and still needing multiple wins in the ACCT to get an at-large bid. (This happened to VT just two years ago when the ACC was the #1 ranked conference.)

Just for kicks and giggles, let’s look at wins against Top 25 and Top 50 competition that ACC teams have accumulated so far:

Jan6 Top 50 Wins

There is a distinct shortage of big-name opponents on this list. You have to wonder how many of the mid-majors (other than Gonzaga) will still be in the Top 50 on Selection Sunday.

Let’s wrap up the mid-season review with a little preview of State’s ACC season:

2010 ACC Schedule

– If I could rearrange the schedule, I would swap the home games against Duke & Clemson for home games against FSU & GT. I figure that location won’t improve State’s chance for a win against either Duke or Clemson…but historically, FSU and GT are much tougher at home than they are on the road.

– Based on what little we know now, State’s schedule looks pretty balanced and would probably place State somewhere in the middle with respect to toughest conference schedules. If all goes reasonably well at home/work, we’ll take another look at conference SOS during the week leading up to the ACCT.

Closing Thoughts

I’m a results-orientated type of guy so State hasn’t accomplished anything to date that leads me to believe that this season is going to be substantially better than the last three. Those that are claiming “improvement” are apparently seeing things that somehow haven’t translated into wins. I hope that the claims of improvement are correct…but for now, I’m extremely skeptical.

Note that this entry is not a discussion about coaching, but about the results to date, the other ACC teams, and prospects for the season. Post any coaching comments on the forum thread created just for that purpose.

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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70 Responses to Mid-Season ACC Review

  1. StateFans 01/07/2010 at 11:34 AM #

    God you do great work!!! Marquette has lost to two Top 10 teams on a last second shot. I can only imagine how strong their RPI would be with those wins.

    *If* we could have held off Arizona & Florida and Marquette could have snagged any of those close wins…our RPI would be in the Top 40 and we’d be currently projected as an NCAA Tournament team.

    4 games (2 of ours AZ & UF; 2 of Marquette vs WVU and Villanova)
    4 possessions

    Un F’ing believable.

  2. VaWolf82 01/07/2010 at 11:46 AM #

    *If* we could have held off Arizona & Florida and Marquette could have snagged any of those close wins

    I try to not to spend much time in the land of “IF”. But even in that scenario, that would still be only one decent win on State’s resume. State would still need several more real wins to be a legitimate NCAAT team.

  3. bradleyb123 01/07/2010 at 11:55 AM #

    This team is BETTER than last year’s team. This blog doesn’t do anything to support your assertion that it isn’t. All I know is we’re 11-4, and barring a made 75-footer, we’re 12-3. And although this cannot be proven, I feel pretty certain that with Tracy Smith in the lineup, we also beat Arizona and we’re 13-2 right now.

  4. Daily Update 01/07/2010 at 12:24 PM #

    We have games against Marquette, Arizona and UF. Those 3 teams have been very, very good in recent years. We got a weaker Big 10 game because of last year’s finish. Plus we played an SEC team and a tournament at a neutral site instead of a Cupcake Classic in the RBC Center.

    Overall, it looks as if Sidney has tried to upgrade the OOC.

  5. Thinkpack17 01/07/2010 at 12:26 PM #

    It’s hard to argue with this work. I rarely see eye-to-eye with VaW but he is just the messenger in this case. I think he has included the proper disclaimers:

    “So think of my NCAAT projections more of a judgment of the season to date, rather than a prediction.”

    “Those that are claiming “improvement” are apparently seeing things that somehow haven’t translated into wins.”

    Pretty hard to argue with those caveats added to a lot of data. I think when all is said and done 6 ACC teams will get in, those that finish strong have the best chance. I know people think 6 may be a little high but the Big East, Pac-10 and ACC are all down. This could be the year a few Mid Majors snatch up some at large bids. But they have been saying that for years and it never happens.

  6. VaWolf82 01/07/2010 at 12:27 PM #

    Upgrading the top of the OOC schedule is not where the improvement is most needed. Eliminating the anchors at the bottom of the schedule would pay far greater dividends that just adding a few “name” opponents.

  7. Wulfpack 01/07/2010 at 12:42 PM #

    Thanks for this very insightful, objective, analysis. Very hard to argue with it at this stage. I must say, it is awesome to see UNC on the bubble!

  8. steve 01/07/2010 at 12:43 PM #

    I have been griping to my friends about the quality of the cupcakes on our schedule for several years now. Is it that hard to schedule some that are of just a little higher quality? As VaWolf points out, it wouldn’t take major adjustments to improve our SOS.

  9. Will NCSU 01/07/2010 at 12:45 PM #

    The improvement is seen by not losing games we shouldn’t lose, which we have accomplished for the first time in a long time. 11-0 against 75+ RPI teams is an improvement over any of Sendeks teams, not to bring up old stuff or anything. Who knows, maybe we will even beat a few teams we are not supposed to beat.

  10. Derek Medlin 01/07/2010 at 1:08 PM #

    Great stuff VaWolf, gotta love looking at stats.

    One way I look at the quality win vs not quality win is this…

    Any victory the Pack can get in the ACC is a quality win. Even if the ACC is down this year, all of those potential wins are quality. So say NC State somehow gets to 6-10 in conference play and beats NCCU. That would leave State at 18-14 and most likely a show in for the NIT. That would be improvement would it not?

    Disclaimer: I don’t live in the land of “if” either, so maybe 6-10 is ludicrous, but just a thought.

  11. wolfpackattack89 01/07/2010 at 1:16 PM #

    Yea, Sidney has definitely tried to strengthen our OOC schedule. He can’t help it that two historically great teams in Florida and ARizona are having pathetic seasons. And even Marquette. They’re usually sick.

  12. VaWolf82 01/07/2010 at 1:26 PM #

    He can’t help it that two historically great teams in Florida and ARizona are having pathetic seasons. And even Marquette.

    S$#! happens and you can’t stop it. But you can avoid scheduling programs that have always been bad in the past.

    With the new format for the NIT, I frankly have no clue what it takes to make the field…and I just can’t bring myself to study the loser’s tournament long enough to figure it out.

  13. mwcric 01/07/2010 at 1:31 PM #

    I think claims of improvement are legitimate, thus far, but in an intangible way. The team chemistry appears better than it has been in years. Players on the bench jump up and cheer and otherwise show enthusiasm and support during the games; I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen that on a consistent basis. While the Pack has had inexplicably close wins (Elon), there have been no head-scratching blowout losses. This team has had the opportunity to win every single game in which its played this season, and that is not something that has been the case over the last half-decade or so. Further, this squad is showing resilience – was it the AZ game where they overcame a six-point or so deficit over the closing 90 seconds or so? In seasons past they would have folded. And does anyone doubt that in past seasons, being down 11 to Marquette on the road at halftime would have resulted in a 20-point-plus loss? Or that the Florida loss would’ve begat a lengthy losing streak? Also, consider that State is two seconds away from a 13-2 record. I’m not real interested in the RPI of those teams or the SOS or any of that – bottom line is that the schedule is not significantly different from schedules of seasons past, but the overall team performance and attitude has changed. Finally, I consider any win against any opponent in any major conference a quality win (granted I’m not on the NCAAT committee so nobody cares). State is perennially picked in the bottom quarter of the ACC, so these wins are akin to defeating their peers or better. Again, none of this may equate to a dance invitation at year’s end, but for me at least it portends good things for the future and finally – FINALLY – it appears a building block or two may be in place.

  14. Wulfpack 01/07/2010 at 1:32 PM #

    The NIT is getting more and more difficult to qualify for. If you are at the bottom of your conference but still have a winning overall record, that can relegate you to the CBI. The NIT is taking those bubble teams first, but have really drawn from a large pool of mid-major programs that have had solid seasons. No longer can you win 5 games in the ACC and expect an NIT bid.

  15. Alpha Wolf 01/07/2010 at 1:44 PM #

    mwcric hits it on the head – the improvements are intangible. Have they won more games and are they mentioned for the field of 64? No. But are they playing harder and with more cohesion? Absolutely.

    For the record, I do not think that this team will finish in the basement of the ACC. It just needs to find a little more luck and I am firm believer that one makes their own luck.

  16. Rick 01/07/2010 at 1:59 PM #

    “Nice attempt to discredit anyone talking about “improvement”. This team is BETTER than last year’s team.”

    It depends on what you define as better. If you mean some subjective measure of “effort and team work” then we could argue until the cows come home. If you look at the results you cannot see that. Va’s post proves that.

  17. MP 01/07/2010 at 2:13 PM #

    What a great post! This is the good stuff. I do hope you are able to repeat/update before the ACC Tourney (maybe even at the conference mid-point!). The numbers made me consider this way of looking at the forthcoming conference schedule:

    NCSU has (so far) beaten all teams with RPI >80. IF this continues they would go 6 – 0 against UM, UMD, BC, UVA.

    NCSU has “played even with” teams with RPI 60-80. Presuming this is representative of how they would play against bubble teams in general, they would go around 3 – 4 against GT, VT, UNC, FSU, and CU (which conveniently matches the home/away split against these teams).

    NCSU has given us no reason to predict a victory against a solid NCAA team. For sake of discussion and sanity, one could assume a record of 0 – 3 against WFU & DU.

    Mythical projections leading to a 9 – 7 ACC record. As suggested in the post, I can’t see why that would be good enough for an NCAA bid without adding wins in the ACC tourney (a first round win alone probably would not do much to change the team’s overall body of work).

    On the other hand, take those 9 wins and throw in a home win against either Wake or Duke…

  18. Texpack 01/07/2010 at 2:16 PM #

    As for improvement, or lack thereof, I’d look at it this way. We have better PG play this year out of Javi without question.

    Our consistency of effort is where it should have been for the last four years.

    I’d have to confirm this with the stats, but my gut says our eFG% is down due to some horrendous 3-pt shooting games.

    Our free throw shooting is the worst it has been in 10 years (once again I’d have to confirm with stats).

    The two digressions have off set the two areas of improvement and resulted in no improvement to the record.

    At the beginning of the year I’d have picked us to lose to Marquette and beat Florida. I think with Tracy Smith in the lineup we’d have beaten Arizona, so it’s hard to support the case for improvement with objective measures. I do think the improved effort/defense and the improvement at the point make our games a little less frustrating to watch. I also think people believe that Scott Wood will shoot more like he has the last 3-5 games than the first 8 games or so. More than anything else this team needs shooters that can consistently knock down open 3’s. If we can find a couple of guys that can do that for the second half of the campaign, we can go 8-8 in the conference.

  19. Thinkpack17 01/07/2010 at 2:20 PM #

    I would LOVE to beat Greivis twice.

  20. VaWolf82 01/07/2010 at 2:34 PM #

    Small correction to the entry. The Atlantic 10 is currently the 5th ranked conference which pushes the Big Televen and Pac-10 into 6th and 7th.

    If the season ends with this conference ranking, it will be interesting to compare the selections from these three conferences.

  21. StateFans 01/07/2010 at 2:52 PM #

    I’m surprised that a couple of people were looking to argue about these numbers.

    I don’t see why/how people can be unhappy about much of anything at this point in our basketball season.

    I think these numbers are great, but also firmly believe and have concluded that this team is (a) better than expected (b) clearly better than the last couple of teams.

  22. StateFans 01/07/2010 at 2:56 PM #

    VaWolf — I do challenge one of your comments and perspective that we would still be short ‘quality wins’.

    I think you are putting way too much stock in the importance of real ‘quality wins.’

    IIRC, Herb Sendek had an NC State team make the NCAA Tournament without a single win over another tourney team. In a couple of other seasons we literally had only a couple of wins over (weak) tourney teams. There are other formulas to position yourself to get in.

    If you play in the ACC and you get 20 wins (and 8-8 in the conference) you can pretty much rest assured that your getting a bid regardless of how many ‘quality’ wins. ESPECIALLY in years when other major conferences (like the Pac 10 & Big East) are down a little and not taking up as many spots.

    Lastly, Marquette will prove to be a ‘quality’ win at the end of the year the way they are playing.

  23. Broccoman 01/07/2010 at 2:59 PM #

    Even the CBI would be improvement.

    I do see things picking up, and NIT and NCAA are still possible if luck happens.

    We deserve some good karma.

  24. VaWolf82 01/07/2010 at 3:12 PM #

    I think when all is said and done 6 ACC teams will get in, those that finish strong have the best chance.

    Last year, UNC, Duke, WF, FSU, and Clemson were all in the RPI Top 30. That depth at the top of the conference gave BC and UMD chances at some big wins which put both of those teams in. This year, wins against Nos 3,4,5 in the conference might not mean all that much….which will make it harder for the ACC bubble teams to get in.

  25. nope 01/07/2010 at 3:14 PM #

    S$#! happens and you can’t stop it. But you can avoid scheduling programs that have always been bad in the past.

    You mean like adding games against Holy Cross and Winthrop, two programs who have made the NCAAT multiple times in the past 10 years? How about the early season tournament that gave us games against Akron and Austin Peay, the type of mid-100s RPI teams our schedules have been lacking recently? I think you’re giving Lowe (or whoever composed the schedule) too much credit if you think he masterminded a schedule where we would play “name” teams but they’d all be terrible. Were they supposed to forecast that William and Mary, a squad that went 9-20 with a 235 RPI last year, would be good and play them?

    I have no problem with the OOC schedule this year given the team we have. A couple of the ~300 RPI teams need to be cut, yes, but I imagine they will be over the next couple years. The contract with New Orleans ended this year, the UNCG game was set to give the team experience in the Greensboro Coliseum and I feel like the NCCU game serves a purpose by having a game in between what would be a long layover in ACC play while also giving the team a non-threatening win when they could be in the middle of a slide (previous 4 games: Clemson, Duke, Maryland, UNC).

    The Georgia Southern and Elon games serve little purpose and need to be upgraded. But that’s 2 aberrations when we used to have 5-6. Provided the expectation is that our team will improve over the next 2 years, I hope to see a couple of the more traditional basketball powers added to the schedule, or maybe a top mid-major like Gonzaga or Xavier. Playing those games this year would’ve served little purpose, however. We have plenty of games against top 20 teams that we have little chance of winning coming up in conference play.

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