Overview of ACC Basketball

The ACC has limped through the first half of the conference schedule. So let’s see if it looks as bad as it feels:

ACC Summary 2-3

We have looked at the NCAAT bubble many times over the last several years. Based on those observations, I’ve developed the following criteria for ranking the teams:

IN = RPI <40 and a minimum of 0.500 in the ACC
OUT = RPI >65
BUBBLE = Anything in-between those two extremes



– In case you haven’t noticed, the ACC really sucks this year. In fact, it’s the weakest the conference has been since 2000. The ACC currently ranks fifth in the country…just behind the Mountain West in two different on-line RPI sites.

– Here is a graph that illustrates just how much the ACC has dropped off compared to last year (when the ACC was the third ranked conference).

ACC RPI Graph 2-3


Boston College

With losses to Harvard, Yale, and Rhode Island, no one expected BC to take the conference by storm this year. However, there are several things worth discussing (beyond their recent slide, losing four of the last five games to fall onto the Bubble).

BC has the 39th ranked OOC SOS per CBS Sports. If you have never looked at OOC schedules before, I encourage you to take a look and see what a “challenging” OOC schedule really looks like. (Hopefully, you picked up on the sarcasm.) As I’ve said a bazillion times before, you don’t have to schedule Top-25 teams to build a strong OOC schedule. Just eliminate those horrid programs that State always seems to schedule and the ranking will take care of itself.

There is no downside to playing an OOC schedule like BC’s:

– If you have a good team, then the wins in the ACC season will give you a good RPI ranking and you can secure a decent NCAAT seed before the ACCT even starts.

– If you don’t have a good team, then it doesn’t really matter anyway. Even if you build a bloated record on the Savannah States of the world, you will be exposed as a fraud by the ACC schedule and you’ll still be sitting home after the ACCT.

– If you have a Bubble team, then you have given yourself a chance to acquire a few more Top-50 wins to help out your overall resume.

BC’s losses to Yale, Harvard, and RI illustrate why the NCAA Selection Committee is justified in including SOS in the RPI calculation and in their selection process. The dregs of the basketball world are never going to beat an ACC team. But those teams in the middle might sneak up and surprise you. Teams that take a “risk” by playing those teams in the middle, deserve a “reward” for beating them instead of cupcakes. (From Jerry Palm – About 75% of the NCAAT teams are seeded within one spot of where you would predict based solely on RPI.)

Florida State

FSU has a really unimpressive resume for a team that was ranked in the AP Top-25. They do have a home win against Duke, but their only other Top-50 win was also at home against BC (#43 and fading). Since they don’t play BC again this season, you can be sure that BC will have no bigger fans than FSU between now and the ACCT.

The only Top-50 games left for FSU before the ACCT are against UNC (twice). One win over the Heels and a 10 win ACC season should be enough to secure an at-large bid before the ACCT even starts.

VT and Maryland

The difference in these two teams comes down to last night’s results…a road win versus a home loss. Both teams have exactly one Top-50 win – #44 Penn State. If you throw in Clemson, any of these three teams could make the NCAAT, but will most likely enter the ACCT still needing Top-50 wins to secure a bid.

It looks unlikely to me that more than one from this group stands a chance at making the NCAAT. It’s not hard to imagine a scenario where the #5 and #6 seeds in the ACCT could have a really rough road to make the NCAAT. Round 1 of the ACCT will be against the bottom of the ACC…where the win counts as nothing special. Round 2 could be against two bubble teams…which might not be all that impressive. Bottom line: I can see a scenario where a bubble team would need an appearance in the ACCT finals to secure an at-large bid. (Remember that VT has won on Friday in the ACCT and still not received an at-large bid.)

NC State

To date, State has a grand total of three wins against teams ranked in the Top-200 (#30 George Mason, #72 Miami, #127 ECU).   End Discussion.


Their free-fall continues having lost six of seven games in 2011. Has anyone seen the posters that were trying to argue that State’s win over Miami was a “good” win?



One of the first pieces I wrote at SFN covered common mistakes made during internet “analysis” of State’s teams. I briefly thought about rehashing the claims made over the last two seasons into the outline of that piece, but then decided against it. The horse is nearly dead and there is no reason to beat it any more.

If life doesn’t interfere, I’ll do one more of these updates in the days just before the ACCT starts and we’ll see just how depressing the ACC is going to look in this year’s NCAAT. Friendly reminder – Keep the comments on the topic of the ACC season and NCAAT projections.

This article originally posted on Thursday, February 3rd but remains relevant and relatively unchanged to allow us to feature it again on Saturday.

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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31 Responses to Overview of ACC Basketball

  1. Wufpacker 02/03/2011 at 9:51 PM #

    Is it as bad as it feels? I would say it’s worse, actually. Only two teams in the top 40? That’s almost unbelievable.

    As far as FSU, I think barring a collapse they’re in despite only one top 50 win (even if they lose both against Carolina). Besides the two remaining against Carolina, their remaining schedule has only two of the other six at home, but the road games are against GT, Wake, UMd, and NCSU. With the possible exception of UMd, those should all be wins.

    Anyone think George Mason is looking at their loss to us as a “bad loss”?

  2. swamppack 02/03/2011 at 10:15 PM #

    Just watched last 8 minutes of GT/Miami game. Game was at Miami. Attendance looked just like RBC Center, sparse. Miami moved into a tie with State for next-to-last place in ACC.

    Quality of game was dismal. I remember many years in the past in ACC teams from top to bottom being competitive or at least dangerous on any given night. Made the ACC fun to watch.

    Really not very fun to watch anybody in the ACC this year unless you like watching the keystone cops in BB jerseys.

  3. Wolfy__79 02/03/2011 at 10:34 PM #

    the scrappy nature of the miami-gt matchup tonight reminded me of the sloppy natured big east play a few years ago. i feel our league is trending towards more brawn than brains. despite the pedigree, the teams that play within a system appear to have more success over the past few seasons.. while the rest appear as bumbling idiots.

    of the top seven in this list.. the top two are in, the remaining five excluding miami have the fire power to make the neccessary run in the acct.

    the bottom half is what reminds me of the sloppy play of the big east a few years ago. i think the ACC gets 4 just based on principle and most likely +1 for a late run.

  4. Tampa-Pack 02/03/2011 at 10:36 PM #

    “NC State
    To date, State has a grand total of three wins against teams ranked in the Top-200 (#30 George Mason, #72 Miami, #127 ECU). End Discussion.”

    CANNOT be said enough.

    And somehow Sid still has some supporters, really?? I guess we do really own those top 200+ teams though…..

  5. rtpack24 02/03/2011 at 10:53 PM #

    Without looking at stats I felt like this is really a weak year in the ACC. Then tonight I went and watched UNC-A beat Presbyterian by 30. This is the same Presbyterian team that beat Wake at Wake.

  6. JeremyH 02/04/2011 at 12:48 AM #

    I love the stats, because you can back up your point with it.

    But let me be concise.

    ACC Basketball = poo

  7. BureauOfMines 02/04/2011 at 1:35 AM #

    The ACC ain’t what it used to be. Even th’ Doohockeys are getting manhandled by the likes of St. John’s Wort.

  8. wufpup76 02/04/2011 at 5:38 AM #

    As always, thanks for putting all of this together. Excellent work.

    We can only hope for brighter days ahead for both State and the ACC. One of the unfortunate things is that this backs up the notion of “The ACC is just Duke, Unx, and then everyone else.”

    Sad but true at this point.

    “Anyone think George Mason is looking at their loss to us as a “bad loss”?”

    ^They have to be. There seemed to be so much promise at that point though. Sigh.

  9. BJD95 02/04/2011 at 8:40 AM #

    These are always my favorite articles every year. And the numbers certainly do match up with the “eye test.” The ACC is simply putrid this year, and NC State is a big part of the suckage.

    The biggest numbers/eyes disconnect involves UNC. I swear to God, my brain simply cannot fathom how they are a Top 20-caliber team.

  10. Rick 02/04/2011 at 8:55 AM #

    Great article.
    You will probably not get much response because people are mailing it in but it is really good stuff

  11. ryebread 02/04/2011 at 10:05 AM #

    Great article and thanks for pulling it together. There are some things that I’ve been saying for a while that this reinforces:
    – Duke’s not all that great without Irving and their record looks more impressive than their potential/product. This is a Sweet 16/Elite 8 kind of team right now.
    – The ACC is a 4-5 team league. We probably deserve 4, but I expect we’ll get 5.
    – UNC is going to the tournament and with a pretty decent seed.
    – FSU isn’t all that good. Yes, they’ll likely finish 3rd in the league, but they’ve not exactly impressed — especially in the non-conference. They’ve had chances for good wins (OSU, Butler, Florida), but just couldn’t get it done.
    – VT is starting to come on while BC is starting to play the tougher ACC teams. At the beginning of the year I had VT down as 3rd in the ACC and BC down near the bottom. They’re each trending in that direction. VT still has some work left to do given their perception issues (play a weak schedule, got snubbed last year, not a “name”), but they took care of business in a must win road game this week (against us).
    – MD did themselves no favors with their non-conference losses. Because the ACC is a 12 team league, I think we’re probably getting 5 in. In that scenario, MD is probably the last team in. Their name and the league’s name alone probably put them over the hump even if they don’t deserve it. They need to go 5-3 in the second half and win 1-2 in the ACC tournament though to get the benefit of the doubt.
    – Clemson could actually make a late push and get in (passing MD). With Purnell coaching, they’d be done, but I think Brownell has them rounding into form. They’re really getting hurt by Purnell’s scheduling philosophy (which produces gaudy non-conference records and a paper tiger). That loss against S.Carolina is going to haunt them — because it’s their only real non-conference game.
    – This is the worst that I can ever remember the ACC. It’s worse than last year and it is worse than 2000 (regardless of what the numbers say).
    – The bottom 4 in the ACC — Miami, State, GT and WF — are just awful. It’s obvious when you watch the teams play and it is obvious on paper here. All four teams need coaching changes if the league is going to elevate itself. GT is a bit stuck due to a ridiculously dumb contract and I don’t think that Wellman can afford to make a change at WF this season. I hope that State and Miami do something to improve themselves as both are clearly underachieving and poorly coached. As a league, we can survive with 1-2 bad teams, but we can’t have 4.

  12. VaWolf82 02/04/2011 at 10:24 AM #

    Note to those that can’t find their posts…there are other entries or our forums if you wish to discuss coaching issues. There is no need to drag that conversation into this entry.

  13. WolfInVolCountry 02/04/2011 at 11:35 AM #

    Just looked up our RPIs for the last four years. 77,111,111 and 89. Add to that our current RPI of 110.


    BTW, VA… very nice job as always

  14. rtpack24 02/04/2011 at 12:45 PM #

    Wonder if Larry Drew II leaving UNX will effect their RPI?

  15. Wolfy__79 02/04/2011 at 2:09 PM #

    i cannot agree more BJD95. unx is winning though, despite not by much? i’ve seen in each one of those games their brand of toughness get them back into it!

    i have to say that with how many new coaches, 3?, in the league that this has had an impact as well! +1 for uva. i’ve seen some fight out of these teams play but nothing has stuck and so no consistency.

    league wide, my eye test sees the league around the same level it’s been for the past few seasons, more of a trend down whereas the big east & bigten are trending up. i expect the league to be the same or a shade better rpi next year equaling a couple of bubble teams + three to four solids. the ACC will continue to have a bad bottom half of teams.

  16. VaWolf82 02/04/2011 at 2:17 PM #

    The biggest numbers/eyes disconnect involves UNC.

    UNC is 2-4 against Top 50 teams. So it’s not surprising that an NC State fan wouldn’t be all that impressed with them.

  17. LRM 02/04/2011 at 3:55 PM #

    Keep in mind too that these numbers change throughout the season, and they’re only going to get worse — not just for State, but the ACC as a whole.

    What’s really amazing is that Duke has spent so much of the season in the Top 5 with only a single win against the Top 25 (although they’ll get their chance for #2 on Wednesday because Carolina will likely move into the next Top 25).

  18. pack44fan 02/04/2011 at 5:50 PM #

    I like the statistical comparisons because it shows, without emotion, how bad NCSU basketaball, and for that matter, the ACC has become. I still can’t get over the fact that we have won only 6 ACC road games the past 5 years. Unbelievable!!!

  19. Wulfpack 02/04/2011 at 9:36 PM #

    Pack44, that is indeed the most amazingly pathetic stat I have ever heard. It HAS to be some kind of record after 5 years. I don’t think we make enough of it. It speaks to our collective lack of toughness, as well as having no identity under Lowe. What do we hang our hat on? Nada.

    As for the ACC, I think it gets 3 to 4 bids. Duke, UNC, FSU and someone else like VT or Maryland. Duke is trending downwards and UNC upwards. That match-up next week certainly will be telling.

    One thing is for sure: we’re sitting at 2-7 this time tomorrow evening. One more loss would provide the death nail. No 8-8 ACC team is making the tournament. Not that we could reach that anyways.

  20. LRM 02/05/2011 at 11:38 AM #

    With 10 Big East teams and so many mid-majors likely to make the NCAAT, I don’t think any ACC team is in at 9-7 unless it’s playing on Sunday in the ACCT. 10-6 will be the cut off. Usually a win or two in the ACCT gives you the extra boost off the bubble, but I don’t see it doing that this year.

  21. RickJ 02/05/2011 at 11:54 AM #

    Duke & UNC were the two schools most against expansion because they feared it would damage the league in basketball. They did not realize how great a deal this was going to be for them.

  22. Wolfy__79 02/05/2011 at 12:26 PM #

    wow wulfpack.. i’m hearing a little optimism from you. i would say we already have a death nail in our tournament hopes. it makes since when you say no 9-7 team will make it.. that’s pretty realistic.

  23. eas 02/05/2011 at 3:42 PM #

    Only way we are making it to the dance is if the 83 team shows up. We only have a couple of teams left that we could possibly beat if we play team ball.

    I say the ACC gets 3 teams in. Especially since everyone knows the league as a whole is pretty darn bad.

  24. section2chuck 02/05/2011 at 3:55 PM #

    The biggest problem with the ACC right now is this: Only 3 legit head coaches Coach K, Roy, Gary Williams…here is the rest: Lowe, Hewitt, the guy from Miami, the guy from BC, Clemson guy, Wake guy, etc…

    See what I’m saying? We only have 3 really good coaches…during the great 1980’s the ACC had all the coaching talent…it’s just like the SEC in football now, and the Big East in bball…they have all the big time coaches, which translates into better teams…..

  25. PoppaJohn 02/05/2011 at 4:04 PM #

    Are you saying you DON’T think we are going to make the NCAA Tourney???


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