The ACC teams are about half-way through the conference season so it seems like a good time to update where the teams are with respect to making the NCAAT. Note that none of the â€œnumbersâ€ presented in this entry include the effect of Sundayâ€™s gameâ€¦but the outcome of UNC at UMD wonâ€™t have any big effect on our conclusions.
We have looked at the NCAAT bubble many times over the five years that I have been writing here. Based on those observations, I use really simple criteria for placing teams in the three categories:
IN = RPI <40 and a minimum of 0.500 in the ACC
OUT = RPI >65
BUBBLE = Anything in-between those two extremes
– I have never encountered a team with a record like UVa’s this year. Their bad RPI ranking is a function of a weak OOC schedule and a relatively poor performance against that schedule. They still have time to dig their way out of their hole, but make no doubt that they are definitely in a hole.
– This is probably the last time that I will include the opponents that make up Top 50 wins for the ACC schools. But I found two things interesting while I was compiling the list:
a) It is really easy to pick out the three teams that are clearly in the NCAAT solely from the number of Top 50 wins.
b) It is impossible to look at only Top 50 wins to separate the bubble teams from those that are clearly out of the running for the NCAAT.
– Itâ€™s unusual for five ACC teams to be so clearly off of the pace required to make the NCAAT at the half-way point of the conference schedule. (Half of the conference teams were OUT before a 2-0 week by VT.)
– Most people feel that UMD, Clemson, and FSU are well on their way to the NCAAT. While I donâ€™t necessarily disagree, none of these teams have cemented their position as well as the Top-3.
UVA (176->90), UMD (94->46), and GT (69->24) have all used their ACC schedule to make the biggest moves in RPI ranking since our previous look just before the conference schedule really got started.
Duke, UNC, and NCSU are the only ACC teams with worse RPI rankings today than our previous look. Duke has dropped one spot in the ranking while UNC and NCSU have taken bad rankings and made them worse.
CONFERENCE STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE
We have looked at conference strength of schedule at the end of the year each of the last four years. For some reason, Barry Jacobs and the ACC Sports Journal jumped on this subject a little prematurely (and rather haphazardly) and we had a good discussion on this article in the forums.
So just for kicks and giggles, I prepared a table summarizing conference strength of schedule as calculated by CBS Sports. I havenâ€™t found an explanation for their numbers, but they are still useful for a quick look today. (After the season, we always do a subjective evaluation to make sure that the numbers make sense.)
CBS Sports calculates the raw number and displays it on their RPI BREAKDOWN page for each team. (They also provide a national ranking for this raw number.) I then normalize the RAW number to make it easier to tell how much variation there is between one team and the next.
The last two columns are my quick and subjective evaluation of the two halves of the season for each team. The harder half of the conference season was easy to identify for most teams but WF seems like a toss up to me.
I wouldnâ€™t recommend making too much over the second half of Stateâ€™s schedule being easier than the first half. At present, State is a woeful 1-5 against teams ranked from 51-100. In the ACC, even if your schedule gets easier, it doesnâ€™t mean that you will get a lot of teams ranked over 100.
Based on a quick, subjective review of the schedules, I would guess that GT will end up with the hardest conference schedule. They play Duke, WF, Clemson, FSU, and UNC twice.
VT will probably end up with the easiest schedule since they play Duke, Clemson, GT, WF, FSU, and UMD once each. At present, VT is 1-2 against the RPI Top 50 and only has four more games against teams in the Top-50. This easy schedule means that VT doesnâ€™t have many chances to get those note-worthy wins required to make the NCAAT.
Itâ€™s way too early for hard and fast conclusions, but the top three teams are pretty solid and the next three are in reasonably good shape to make the NCAAT.
UVA has to be the surprise of the season so far. You just donâ€™t expect a team with three losses to OOC teams ranked 100+ to turn around and go 5-3 in the first half of the conference schedule.
UNC is probably the other surprise in the conference; but I just canâ€™t seem to take any solace from that fact.
Between the main blog and the forums, there must be at least a dozen different places for people to complain about State’s basketball program. Please note that this entry is not one of those places.