ACC Mid-Season Review

I’ve done a mid-season review each of the last several years and enjoy taking a broader look at the ACC. The past several years, I’ve used the data from CBS Sports and really like they layout they have for each team. The problem is that as of lunchtime on Friday, they have not included the last OOC games from Wed night. So if we are going to have a mid-season review before the ACC schedule kicks in, we are going to have to switch websites (to yahoo/rivals) and do what we can.

If you are new here, I did a little RPI primer last year to explain some often mis-understood aspects of RPI and SOS Rankings. I’ve also done a number of entries here on the NCAAT selection process and documented a number of key items from past years. During the season, I use the following simplistic evaluation process to judge the ACC teams:
– Top 40 RPI and min of 0.500 ACC record = IN
– RPI ranking >75 = OUT
– Everything else = BUBBLE

So with the preamble completed, here is a summary table that breaks down the various rankings along with their records versus the opponents played to date:

Random Thoughts

I’ve obviously only used the RPI rankings for today’s update. Even though there is a lot of basketball left to be played, it’s interesting to look back and see how the actual NCAA selections compared to this first, rough look:
In 2010, both teams graded “IN”, made the NCAAT. 3 of 5 Bubble teams made the NCAAT. Only 1 of 5 teams that graded “OUT”, made the NCAAT.
2011 was different in that no teams qualified for the bubble at the mid-season point. 2 of 4 teams graded “IN” made the NCAAT. 2 of the 8 teams graded “OUT” made the NCAAT.
– The obvious conclusion is that it is not too late to work your way into the NCAAT. However we shouldn’t expect too many of those bottom teams to make the big turnaround.

Using the last two mid-season reports, we can build a picture of how this year stands up to the past few. While this year is a slight improvement over last year, the ACC’s current ranking of 6th is substantially behind it’s historical norm. (Click here if you want to review history and a year even worse than the last three.)

Most of the other points that I would make have been fairly well covered either by entries to the main blog or in various forum threads. If you see something of particular interest, bring it up in the comments and we can hash it out.
NC State

As a refresher, here is the last update that I made to the historical OOC SOS table:

NOTE: Apathy set in during the Lowe era and I haven’t updated this table for the last two seasons. If anyone knows where I can get the information for the last two years, let me know.

In case you’ve been asleep during the college basketball “pre-season”, this is the strongest OOC schedule that State has played since we’ve been tracking this stat. If you will remember, one of the first things that Gott discussed changing was State’s OOC schedule. He managed to accomplish in a few months what Sendek and Lowe couldn’t do in 15 years. I have to take a moment here to once again laugh at the silly excuses from the HSSS on why State couldn’t put together a tougher schedule.

The HSSS excuses look even sillier if you compare the last two year’s schedules and see what really changed. The top of the 2010-2011 schedule was actually BETTER than this season. Last year, State’s top five opponents ranked 1, 4, 23, 37, and 54. This year’s top five opponents rank 1, 15, 44, 77, and 79. As I’ve been saying for nearly a decade, you get the most improvement in your overall SOS by eliminating dead wood at the bottom of the schedule. At the mid-way point last year, State had played 8 teams ranked 200+; with four of those ranked 300+. This year, State has played only 4 teams ranked 200+ and none ranked 300+.

Note that neither the OOC schedule nor State’s results against that schedule will bring any special attention from the NCAAT Selection Committee. However, there is no down-side in scheduling like this:
– If you are good enough to make the NCAAT, then you have a chance to get some good wins and build a case for a high seed.
– A bubble team gets a chance at a key win and the losses won’t hurt come Selection Sunday.
– If you aren’t going to at least be considered for the NCAAT, then it doesn’t really matter who you play.

Since I work with a number of VT grads, I know how painful it is to come up on the “last four out” lists. I find it comforting to know that State has a coach that recognizes how a weak OOC SOS has contributed to those frustrating Sunday afternoons for my friends and co-workers.

Here is State’s ACC schedule sorted by today’s RPI ranking:

Many people have noted that State’s easy ACC schedule could end up hurting on Selection Sunday. With no quality OOC wins, this fact should be obvious to the most casual observer. In fact, State is in virtually the same position as this time last year. (I’ll let our audience argue if a win against #79 Texas is better or worse than a win against #54 George Mason).

BOTTOM LINE: State needs as many wins as possible and especially needs wins against the top half of the conference. With seven games scheduled against the bottom four teams, it’s certainly possible that a 10 win conference season wouldn’t be enough to make the NCAAT (again).

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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33 Responses to ACC Mid-Season Review

  1. STLPack01 01/06/2012 at 3:48 PM #

    ACC Now has a series of stories up right now, in which Gott says that he thinks the pack needs to get to 11 wins to make the tourney.

  2. PackMan97 01/06/2012 at 3:53 PM #

    Just win the games we are favored (by RPI) and lose the ones against higher opponents has us sitting at 11-5. The opportunity is there.

  3. VaWolf82 01/06/2012 at 4:03 PM #

    The opportunity is there.

    The opportunity to be the first 11 win ACC team to visit the NIT?

    State needs Top-50 wins to make the NIT. Whether they are upsets or not is immaterial.

  4. Shadow722 01/06/2012 at 4:55 PM #

    NO. An 11-5 NC State will get an invite to the NCAA’s, and I believe a 10-6 NC State team would also get an invite.

    The differences this year are:

    68 Tourney Teams v 64

    State has a 2011-12 NCSOS of 39 vs VT 2009-10 NCSOS of 288

    In addition VT overall SOS for 2009-10 was 125. NC State’s 2011-12 projected Overall SOS is 44.

    My contention is any 10 win or better ACC team will make the NCAA’s as long as their NCSOS is better than 50. That goes for any Big 6 conference team: Make at least 10 wins and have a NCSOS greater than 50 or so…..

  5. Thinkpack17 01/06/2012 at 5:08 PM #

    I think it depends where 10-5 puts us in the standings. A 6th place 10-6 State team will probably be left out. A 4th place 10-6 State team could get in just off the historical strength of the ACC. History is a subjective measure that the committee considers. UNC and UCLA have made the tourny in down years off that.

    Also how we look at 10-6 will be a factor. If we are playing at a high level and are entertaining to watch at the end of the year that will be huge.

  6. VaWolf82 01/06/2012 at 5:09 PM #

    My contention is any 10 win or better ACC team will make the NCAA’s as long as their NCSOS is better than 50. That goes for any Big 6 conference team: Make at least 10 wins and have a NCSOS greater than 50 or so…..

    This contention has already been proven false. It happened to Indiana in 2005. They had a tremendous OOC SOS and 10 B-10 wins, but didn’t make the NCAAT.

  7. VaWolf82 01/06/2012 at 5:14 PM #

    A 4th place 10-6 State team could get in just off the historical strength of the ACC.

    The ACC is extremely weak this year. It’s historical ranking won’t matter on Selection Sunday.

  8. Shadow722 01/06/2012 at 5:18 PM #


    You’re right. The year was 2005. Indiana went 10-6 in the Big 10, 15-12 overall, no wins in the conference tourney, 5-6 in Non conference play and NCSOS of 20, and an RPI of 74.

    Although I suppose I could argue that a losing NC record of 5-6 is a wee bit difference than a 11-4 NC record, but I won’t.

  9. VaWolf82 01/06/2012 at 5:20 PM #

    Which site did you use for the historical OOC SOS? I want to update the table for the last two years.

  10. Shadow722 01/06/2012 at 5:26 PM #


    I used

  11. Thinkpack17 01/06/2012 at 5:39 PM #

    “It’s historical ranking won’t matter on Selection Sunday.”

    I disagree. I can’t see having only 3 ACC teams represented in the big dance. Didn’t UNC get an NCAA bid over Va Tech one year Tech had beaten them twice? The Committee cited UNC Basketball’s rich history as the determining factor. Sometimes history matters on Selection Sunday.

  12. VaWolf82 01/06/2012 at 6:02 PM #

    The Committee cited UNC Basketball’s rich history as the determining factor.

    You’re going to have to prove this one before I believe it.

  13. MISTA WOLF 01/06/2012 at 8:20 PM #

    If we don’t win 10 games I will be upset. You can say that this is a building year or whatever but we are prime for the pouncing and we best make it happen.

  14. ncsu1987 01/06/2012 at 8:31 PM #

    Very nice work, thanks for the effort. The Color coded historical SOS is most enlightening. Looks lIke (to my eye, anyway) State “wIns” with the most green. SMH with you over those HSSS excuses. Kudos to coach.

  15. Wulfpack 01/06/2012 at 10:05 PM #

    Awesome work. It’s going to be all about who we beat, assuming we can finish with 9 or 10 wins. With the ACC being so down, we’re going to have to post some solid wins to get a look. The problem is there are not all that many solid teams, so the opportunities are limited. It is entirely possible the ACC will be relegated to a 3 or 4-bid league this year.

  16. 61Packer 01/06/2012 at 11:16 PM #

    Mid-season actually won’t come until the league is about halfway through the ACC schedule, by the end of January.

    Right now, Duke and UNC are going to the NCAAT. BC and WF are not going to the NCAAT. Everyone else at this point is undecided. Right now I’d rank the remaining 8 in this order: FSU, NCSU, VT, UVA, Maryland, Clemson, Miami and GT. I predict the ACC will end up sending 5 teams to the NCAAT.

    The Maryland game will be perhaps the most important ACC home game of the season for us. It’s our only meeting against the Terps, and although they don’t appear to be the Maryland of old, they still have solid coaching with Gary Williams’ replacement, Mark Turgeon. Sunday night will not be an easy one.

  17. choppack1 01/06/2012 at 11:34 PM #

    Over the year, I’ve learned tons from VaWolf’s NCAA In/out posts, among the nuggets:
    * Your RPI is critical when it comes to the at-large bid.
    * You need quality Top 50 wins to get bids.
    * A lack of quality wins will hurt you more than BAD losses, providing those bad losses don’t kill your RPI.
    * As VaWolf indicates, merely playing a crappy team like Delaware State KILLS your RPI, so don’t lose to them.

    I’m waiting for some coach to game the system – and right now, we’re coming close. The real interesting thing I’ve seen this year occurred in the last 2 weeks.

    After we lost to #1 Syracuse on 12-18 our RPI was 72
    We peaked after winning 3 straight at 43 (or 49 depending on whom you read).
    Right now, we’re at 62 (again, depending whom you read)
    So, in spite of playing 4 lousy teams, our RPI has increased 10 points. This bodes well for a weak conference schedule.

    We have 17 games left. I think the most we can lose and feel really good about an at-large bid during this time is 6 games.

    So, in our next 17 games, we need to go 11-6. There are a lot of variables in play, but if we do that, I’m thinking we’d have a decent RPI…probably under 45.

    Now, if we can somehow beat UNC and Duke and make some noise in the tourney, we may be able to get away with losing 7 games in that span, but given the relative crappiness of the ACC that will be pushing it. I think right now, we’re looking at a 10 win season and a first round ACC tourney win as bare minimums to get into the tourney. We could still go 11-5 and not beat anyone in the Top 50 – but I don’t suspect we’ll arrive at that number that way.

    If we did go 12-5 in those 17 games, it’s still possible we’d have zero Top 50 wins. If that’s the case, I’d expect our RPI to be so high that we’d still get a bid unless our OOC that looks so good now goes south.

  18. tuckerdorm1983 01/07/2012 at 7:25 AM #

    The best I can see is 12 wins in the regular season and come in 3rd or 4th in the acc and a trip to the dance.

    The worst is 8 wins and come in 6th or 7th and NIT bound with us probably going to NY

    with that said can’t wait til MD comes to town

  19. VaWolf82 01/07/2012 at 10:08 AM #

    I doubt you’ll see State travel to many OOC games for several reasons:

    1) For one game, the effect on the RPI is small and thus it might not even change your RPI ranking.

    2) State needs a good number of home games for the money. A poster in one of these past threads counted up that State always played about 10 OOC games at home every year. Every game you move from home to the road costs State alot of money.

    3) The small schools that travel to Raleigh without a return game get paid an appearance fee. So when State plays Western and Central in Raleigh, State is actually helping fund their athletic dept. Other than ECU, I suspect that most of the other schools would rather play State in Raleigh than at home.

  20. MattN 01/07/2012 at 10:13 AM #

    You have Maryland as 0-3 against the top 50 and undefeated against the rest. Of their 3 losses, one of them is to Iona. I simply flat refuse to believe Iona is a top 50 team. They have losses to Hofstra and Marshall…

  21. Daily Update 01/07/2012 at 10:21 AM #

    Good stuff. One thing i have learned is that the Acc tourney really matters. If we were to go 9-7 and then 3-1 in the acc tourney, then i think we would get in. We probably need at least 11 wins. I think we would be a lock with 12.

  22. LRM 01/07/2012 at 10:22 AM #

    “I disagree. I can’t see having only 3 ACC teams represented in the big dance.

    It happened in 1999 and 2000. And in 2002 only 4 got in.

  23. VaWolf82 01/07/2012 at 10:36 AM #

    I simply flat refuse to believe Iona is a top 50 team.

    I don’t see how your belief in something changes whether it is true or not. 😉

    I got my info here (and Iona is ranked 28th):

  24. MP 01/07/2012 at 10:50 AM #

    Always one of my favorite posts of the year – Thank you!

    As mentioned by others, based on current data, it appears 11-5 is our target. That is assuming Home/Away losses to Top 40 teams, Away losses to 40-80 teams, and No losses to sub-80 teams.

    I get that there are no guarantees, but I agree with those that expect this to be good enough to make the tournament. However, if that record is achieved with no wins against Top 40 teams then we may not get a bid without holding serve in the ACCT. It may not be good enough to beat bad teams all year and then sheet the bed against one in the ACCT Quarterfinals.

    To me, if you prove you are a good enough team to win the games you “should” win (and demonstrate that you are competitive in other games, although difficult to quantify), you should make a 64/68 team tournament [I just hope we are beginning an era of NCSU BBall where this is normal and expected].

    Unless you have a whole lot of company in that regard. Usually by early March, it is pretty clear who fits the profile. Every year 1 or 2 teams get hosed – out of a 10-15 team pool – for the final bids. If you are riding the razor’s edge within 10% of the final at-large group, I don’t know that you can complain when left out.

  25. Thinkpack17 01/07/2012 at 1:03 PM #

    “It happened in 1999 and 2000. And in 2002 only 4 got in.”

    That was back when we only had 9 teams I believe. And I’m sure only 65 teams went to the show back then.

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