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 “numbers” presented in this entry include the effect of Sunday’s game…but the outcome of UNC at UMD won’t have any big effect on our conclusions.

ACC BB Update 2-7

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.

– It’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 don’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.


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 haven’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 wouldn’t recommend making too much over the second half of State’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 doesn’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 doesn’t have many chances to get those note-worthy wins required to make the NCAAT.


It’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 don’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 can’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.

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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34 Responses to ACC UPDATE

  1. 61Packer 02/07/2010 at 4:26 PM #

    It looks pretty good to me, although I think Maryland, barring a huge collapse, is in. There may be more bubbles in this season’s NCAA pool than there are in a king-size bottle of Herbal Essence Shampoo.


  2. Wulfpack 02/07/2010 at 4:35 PM #

    Great analysis. I agree with 61Packer that Maryland will be dancing. Clemson, FSU, VT and UVA have work to do. I think GT is going to have a a few more WTF losses. They simply do not pass the eyeball test of a good team. They’re going to get in, but it’ll be a very short stay. Go ahead and put a fork in UNC, Miami, BC and State. No chance there for any of them, aside from an ACC Tournament Championship, of course. Hopefully the league can get six bids.

  3. Canus Lupus 02/08/2010 at 6:43 AM #

    I disagree about UNC. I have a feeling that Roy will get 4-5 more wins in the ACC and win one in the tourney. If so, UNC will be dancing IMO. Too many Walmart fans for UNC for them to not make the show if they are sniffing .500.

  4. wolfmanmat 02/08/2010 at 7:31 AM #

    Yea, UNC still has a chance. OSU/MSU wins OOC loom large. If they get to 7-9 in conference(big if IMO), they can get in. Tough to keep out defending champ even if their resume isn’t 100% deserving. Somehow, I’m sure the committee will cut them slack.

  5. coachkoh 02/08/2010 at 7:57 AM #

    Did not enjoy hearing the announcer at yesterdays unx vs maryland game continually throwing out the disclaimer that unx lost 5 out of their last 6 acc games with their only win being against nc state.

  6. VaWolf82 02/08/2010 at 8:02 AM #

    I disagree about UNC.

    Let’s make sure that we actually disagree. My tables are not a prediction, merely a summary of the current status. AFAICT, no BCS school has ever gotten an at-large bid with an RPI>65. So UNC has alot of work to do before they can be included in any type of NCAAT talk.

    I know of no reason to believe that the NCAAT Selection Committee cares about UNC at all. They certainly didn’t talk about folding up the tourney when Doherty was stinking up the court.

  7. packfan03 02/08/2010 at 8:24 AM #

    There are so many enigmas in our conference, Clemson being one of them. What are your thoughts on their team? Seems every year we see the same thing from them – fast start, slow finish.

  8. RSP123 02/08/2010 at 9:11 AM #

    Good info to ponder. However, count me in as one who believes that if the Heels are close then they are in. As for the ACC Tourney, any team that avoids the play-in round (4 wins to win the tourney) has a bigger advantage this year then most to win the ACC. The amazing thing is that any team at the bottom – including State – with an improbable string of victories could find itself in the middle of stack sniffing fourth place. I know not likely, but possible. A crazy year in the ACC – just in a different way. Go Pack!

  9. choppack1 02/08/2010 at 9:38 AM #

    “There are so many enigmas in our conference, Clemson being one of them. What are your thoughts on their team? Seems every year we see the same thing from them – fast start, slow finish.”

    Clemson isn’t really an enigma at all. They are a team that relies on pressure to win. As they’ve done the last 3 years – they excel when their pressure creates TOs and the excel at home. If you can handle their pressure and/or play them at home, they are very beatable.

    They have improved in some areas – but don’t really have a reliable scoring threat from the guard spot (especially w/ Stitt’s injury).

    I certainly don’t think Clemson or FSU is a lock yet.

    UMd is pretty much a lock -but I’m counting on them playing fairly consistently down the stretch.

    I actually think UVa is more likely to put together a solid second half of the season than Clemson or FSU. Of course, a couple of key injuries can change all of this.

    As for UNC, right now, they are looking at having to win at least 5 games w/ 9 left. That doesn’t seem like too much of a stretch – but 2 of those are vs. Duke…and it this point, they aren’t locks vs. anyone – including lowly NC State.

  10. VaWolf82 02/08/2010 at 10:51 AM #

    I think that Clemson, FSU, and UMD are all in about the same position. They have done some good things….but haven’t done anything really great.

    The Dance Card has all three teams in the NCAAT, with Clemson being only two spots from their conjectured line. So they are all in pretty good shape…but not good enough to coast into the NCAAT.

  11. choppack1 02/08/2010 at 11:15 AM #

    VaWolf – I think UMd is the strongest of those 3. Of course, I’m looking at how UMd (and Clemson and FSU) has been playing in the month of January and Feb – and projecting that to continue vs. “a total body of work” w/ all games being totally equal.

    They are 8-2 since that point – w/ an OT loss to Wake and a headscratcher 2 Clemson. 6 of those wins are ACC wins..and they have dominated much of their opposition in an impressive manner.

    FSU, OTOH, is 5-4 in a similar stretch, w/ losses to lowly NC State (whom UMd dominated) and total domination from UMd- and hair of my chinny, chin wins vs. GaTech and BC.

    Clemson, is also 5-4 in a similar stretch, w/ a loss to lowly BC – and a couple of chinny-chin wins of their own. Their impressive win during this stretch – a win on their home court over UMd.

    Look at it this way – FSU and Clemson’s headscratchers since conference play started are losses to teams in the bottom of the conference standings, UMd’s headscratcher is a loss to Clemson.

    I have to agree w/ dance card here – that if these teams “hold serve” – all will be in. However, I think UMd is reaching the point where they are looking at a Top 5 seed if they play like they have in the last 5 weeks, whereas Clemson and FSU are somewhere in the 7-12 area.

  12. wolfonthehill 02/08/2010 at 12:35 PM #

    So if UVa were to go 5-3 in the 2nd half of the conference schedule, where do you believe that puts them? Hard to imagine a 10-6 team getting left out, but their OOC performance was truly deplorable…

  13. BJD95 02/08/2010 at 12:44 PM #

    Very interesting. Maryland certainly passes the “eyeball” test when I’ve seen them play. I think they are also more likely than the rest of the bubble teams to completely hold serve at home and consistently take advantage of the rampant inconsistency of their ACC counterparts.

  14. TomPack 02/08/2010 at 1:16 PM #

    But look on the bright side…Sid has done something that HWSNBN never did. We are right there with UNX in the ACC standings!

  15. VaWolf82 02/08/2010 at 1:22 PM #

    It’s hard to imagine a 10-6 being left home, but it did happen to Indiana a few years ago. The key thing is who you beat, not just some raw number of wins.

    If all goes well at work, I should be able to do one last bubble check before the ACCT. Then all of our conjecture will be limited to just a few games…rather than a near infinite number of possibilities.

  16. choppack1 02/08/2010 at 1:22 PM #

    TomPack, had to rain on your parade, but that statement isn’t accurate.

  17. MA Wolfpack 02/08/2010 at 2:08 PM #

    UVA is not going 10-6 so do not worry about that scenario. They have 2 games with Maryland and one with Duke left (1-2 would be a miracle, but they get to play Maryland in between UNC and Duke so it is a HUGE trap game for the Terps). Also have 4 other road games and FSU at home (going off memory but pretty sure that is correct).

    UVA had an extremely easy first half of the ACC….reality is heading to Charlottesville.

    UNC is not getting in unless they beat Duke. In other words, Wed night is a NCAA “stay alive” game for the Heels.

    VaWolf, great work as always.

  18. GoldenChain 02/08/2010 at 2:19 PM #

    Sorry, I don’t see UMd as on the bubble. In fact I think they’re the hottest team in the league right now! Their game with Duke will tell a lot next weekend.

  19. MA Wolfpack 02/08/2010 at 2:23 PM #

    One other thing, I think we can start to see the talent rising to the top of the ACC. Here are my thoughts on NBA talent in the ACC and other key players. Basing this on what we know now (so Howell would not get drafted now so he’s not on the list even though he might develop into a future draft pick). Interested to read others thoughts.

    Duke – Scheyer, Singler – NBA; Smith, Plumblee – NBA borderline
    Wake – Aminu (lottery), Smith – NBA; McFarland – NBA borderline
    Maryland – Vasquez (lottery); Hayes – NBA borderline
    GT – Favors, Lawal (lottery picks), Shumpert NBA

    Clemson – Booker, NBA borderline
    FSU – Alabi, Singleton – NBA
    VT – Delaney – NBA
    UNC – Davis – NBA; Henson, Drew – NBA borderline

    UVA – Landesburg – NBA
    BC – None
    NCSU – None
    Miami – None

  20. VaWolf82 02/08/2010 at 2:43 PM #

    UMD is hot, which is why they made the “Big Mover” list (in a good way). But they had one of the easier conference schedules to date and their only Top 50 wins came against another bubble team (FSU) twice. I’ll be impressed when they get some more wins against the top teams in the conference.

  21. choppack1 02/08/2010 at 2:43 PM #

    MA Wolfpack – we’ll see. I think they can beat FSU – and Duke (providing those ACC refs aren’t trying to get Duke a #1 seed vs. letting UVA get an at-large bid).

    No one really expected them to be 5-3 at this point, so I wouldn’t remove the possibility of 5-3 from the equation in the second half of the season.

    One thing to keep in mind, VaWolf may be able to correct me here, but in the past the NCAA commitee has considered your last 12 or so games when looking at large teams and seedings. However, for some reason, I recall reading that they’d no longer consider that. If that’s the case, UVA probably has to go 5-3 in the second half of ACC season to be considered.

  22. choppack1 02/08/2010 at 2:53 PM #

    “It’s hard to imagine a 10-6 being left home, but it did happen to Indiana a few years ago.”

    Indiana did this in 2005 – Their overall record was 15-13 (I think) heading into selection Sunday. It would have been interesting to see if they got an at-large if they’d had beaten Minnesota in the tournament.

    They actually had some good conference wins – but at one point they were like 2-7 or something in the regular season.

  23. GoldenChain 02/08/2010 at 3:46 PM #

    Chop I heard that too (probably on sports talk radio) about them not putting so much weight on the end of the season.

    As far as UMd playing the easy part of their schedule in the 1st half…so they beat people by 8 instead of 21.

    I honestly hope Duke does well down the stretch just so we have an ACC team (although ABC) in the top 10 just to save face a little.

  24. rtpack24 02/08/2010 at 4:01 PM #

    Vawolf82 great work putting this together. Can you imagine who gets in if the go to 96 teams. If you look at it counting all of the conference tournaments were the winner goes to NCAA wit automatic birth then the number is well over 96. They should factor that in before adding teams. Again, good work and remember anyone of the lower teams gets hot in the ACC tourn and they are in.

  25. fullmoon1 02/08/2010 at 5:18 PM #

    choppack- Tompack is right on the money as far as standings go but they clearly have an edge as far as getting into the bubble with a couple of reg season wins and a tourney run. . UNC is only a half game ahead of us in the acc standings according to the report I heard on the radio this morning. Don’t get me wrong, it is not something to brag about this year.

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