One Month In…

This update might get lost in the post-game threads, but let’s look at where the ACC stands after the first month of the conference schedule.   We’ll start with the top 1/3 of the conference and the teams that are playing for seeding in the NCAAT tournament.


Nothing earth-shattering going on here, but FSU is beginning to turn the upward trend noted in the past into a peak.   Since FSU is State’s best win, they should be every Pack fan’s second favorite team at least thru the end of the regular season.

For the Bubble graph, I decided to remove some of the clutter and use Tuffy to highlight State’s season thus far.


Hopefully, last night won’t be the high point of the season…but it’s certainly the high point so far.    It’s hard to know just how much effect last night’s win will have on State’s post-season chances.   Baring a major road upset against Pitt or Syracuse, this will be State’s best win going into the ACCT.  (But a win is always tons better than a loss.)   Tenn might also be another Top 50 win as they keep dancing back and forth across that line (checking in at #49 this morning.)



With the unbalanced conference schedule, there is often a great disparity between one team’s conference schedule and the next.   For example, UMD has home/home games with Pitt, UVa, and FSU while BC has home/home games with ND, GT, and VT.   (Just another fond farewell from the ACC to Maryland….ain’t karma a bitch?)  As you might expect, UMD and BC represent the two ends of conference SOS variation this year.

In addition to the overall disparity in schedule difficulty from one team to the next, there can also be a variation between the two halves of a season for a single team.   For instance, UVA only has one home/home series with the other teams in the top third of the conference….FSU.   With the “new and improved” ACC scheduling, UVa and FSU have already played each other twice in a two-week period.

In past years, I’ve looked at the ACC SOS variations at the end of the season.   When I started doing some preliminary work for another entry, I realized that there are some things that we should discuss now and see how they play through the second half of the ACC regular season.

CBS Sports has a page for each Div 1 team that they call the RPI breakdown (ESPN has something similar).   One of the interesting things that CBS calculates is a conference SOS.   So a quick collation of the conference SOS lets us compare the schedules played to date.    Here’s a normalized summary of the CBS data:


I was certainly surprised to see that not only was Syracuse at the bottom, but by a large margin.   If you wondered about how an undefeated Syracuse goes up and down in the RPI Rankings, this conference SOS should help explain it.   Here is a simplified RPI formula illustrating that the RPI calculation is simply a combination of your winning percentage and your strength of schedule (SOS is a combination of your opponents’ winning percentage and their opponents’ winning percentage.)


Basically the first-half of Syracuse’s ACC schedule is dragging down their overall SOS which allows teams with stronger schedules to move past them.    But then as those teams ranked ahead of them lose, they slide back down past Syracuse in the rankings.

But for those who prefer graphics, I have the same information along with my projection of where the end-of-the year SOS ranking will end up.   I suggest right-clicking the chart and opening in another window as I explain what I’ve tried to show with this graph.


As discussed above, UMD looks to have the toughest ACC schedule with 8 games (compared to a maximum of 9 games) against the top 1/3 of the conference.   It is difficult for teams in the top 1/3 to match schedule difficulty of teams from the bottom of the conference, but Syracuse should end up with one of the tougher schedules in the conference.   The Orange play home/home series with both Pitt and Duke and play FSU and UVA on the road.   Of those toughest games, they have only played their home game against Pitt.  The orange arrow is intended to show where I’ve projected Syracuse’s SOS ranking to end up after playing the harder games on their schedule.   If Syracuse runs through their first ACC season undefeated, then that would say a lot about the ACC…and none of it good.

Miami and Clemson both have two home/home series against teams in the top 1/3 and that should put their SOS rankings close to Syracuse…which is what I’ve tried to show with arrows.    If you combine the current RPI rankings of UMD, Miami, and Clemson with their projected schedule difficulty, I expect all three teams to drop out-of-sight low in our bubble graph.

The difference between Duke and Pitt’s schedule is very slight.   They both play only one home/home series against the top 1/3…with both teams playing Syracuse twice.    Duke had to travel to Pitt which gives them a tick mark towards a harder schedule.   But Duke gets a home/home with GT and Pitt doesn’t double up on any of the bottom four teams….so a tick mark in Pitt’s column for harder schedule.   My arrows show both teams moving towards the middle of the conference and I’m content to wait on CBS’s math to separate them.

UNC, NCSU, and WF have such similar schedules it’s almost frightening.   All three teams have home/home series with the other two.  All three teams have home/home with one team in the top 1/3…UNC and WF against Duke and State against Pitt (not much apparent difference there).   If I’m right about there being little difference between Pitt/Duke, then the relative SOS ranking of these three teams will come down to how ND (for UNC), Miami (for State), and Clemson (for WF) match up against each other at the end of the season.     FSU should end up somewhere close to these three, depending on how UVA compares to Duke and Pitt at the end of the year.      All of these teams have arrows pointed towards the middle of the conference and we’ll wait on CBS to separate them.

UVA looks to have the easiest schedule of those teams in the top 1/3 of the conference…and the toughest part of their schedule is behind them.    Their completed home/home series against FSU along with a trip to Durham means that UVA only has two games left against the top of the conference…home against Syracuse and on the road at Pitt.

During the Leitao years, UVA tied for first place in the regular season thanks to one of the easiest schedules in the conference.    This “earned” them a higher seeding than their RPI ranking warranted and it came as no surprise when they exited early in the NCAAT.   History doesn’t always repeat itself, but sometimes it does.   Just something to keep in mind.

One last thing on the arrows…if you look at the arrows of those teams pointing to the middle, I’m not necessarily saying that their remaining schedule is much easier or harder than what they’ve already played.    You would have to look at an individual team’s schedule before reaching that conclusion.

For instance, State plays six games against the top 1/3 of the conference and four of those have already been played.   So it’s fair to conclude that State’s remaining schedule is a little easier than what has already been played.   The purpose of the arrows is to show those teams that will cluster near the top or near the middle once the regular season is over.

One other note, the SOS ranking can change wildly from one day to the next.   I prepared a graph yesterday to play around with how I wanted to present the data.   Since WF played Syracuse last night, their conference SOS ranking jumped from the middle of the pack to 2nd place based on that one game.   But that’s OK because the point of this exercise is not to judge what is happening in the middle of the conference.   The point is to identify teams with harder or easier schedules and to see how the unbalanced schedule affects the actual conference standings.


State’s Upcoming Schedule

Well the east-coast road trip we’ve talked about for weeks kicks off Saturday in the Dean Dome.   Regardless of how that game turns out, the week off before a trip to Miami the next Saturday should give Gottfried time to pull their heads out of the clouds…or the dumpster.

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

13-14 Basketball ACC Stat of the Day

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  • #39181

    This update might get lost in the post-game threads, but let’s look at where the ACC stands after the first month of the conference schedule.  
    [See the full post at: One Month In…]


    Excellent food for thought. Our schedule does lighten up, but as your data always shows…double edged sword. You really have more pressure to win every time out (against lesser foes), and your chance to get Top 50 wins is limited. We need TN to stay above that line because it’s not only a Top 50 win, but also a Top 50 ROAD WIN. That’s the kind of stat that wins a lot of tiebreakers, should we finagle our way back on the bubble.


    I think Wake should be ahead of State at this point, since they beat State and have a more impressive resume. However, there is no way I think Wake is better than State, not as long as the Deacons have their current coach.

    I still think the ACC will send 6 teams to the NCAAT- Syracuse and Duke with very high seeds, UVA and Pitt with possibly a top 4 seed, plus UNC with an 8th or 9th seed, and FSU also in that range.

    State has a very difficult stretch coming up. The last thing they need Saturday is a lopsided loss, but any loss in Chapel Hill is a bad one. The Pack has all but won enough games to make it to the NIT, but they need more than 2 or 3 wins to finish out the regular season.

    But after last night, I’d be surprised to see this team do a dive. They should avoid the Wednesday ACCT muddle if Warren continues to lead and if Lewis, Lee and Washington continue to improve.

    Prowling Woofie

    Great breakdown, VaWolf.

    Appreciate the time taken to pull this together.

    And yes, BJD – it does add a certain amount of pressure to win the games against the lesser opponents from here on out. The TN win will look very good at season’s end…

    Saturday will be key – we don’t HAVE to win, but we CAN’T get decimated over there.


    Great stats/info. It’s time to go into the CH and get a win. I think we get them when they come to Raleigh, just like WF will lose to us, but it would be great to sweep U*NC and Miami. Easier said than done. The team has had a good week, let’s hope the mo continues.


    Wake’s head to head win means bupkus, unless we are Top 50 at the end and provides them a quality win. The committee does NOT look at head to head results to determine the fate of conference mates. Their job is to see who stacks up best against the field, not against one another.


    One other point – dont look know but Cincy is sitting strong at 19-2 and ranked 13. Not sure where they are in the RPI – how does a road loss against Cincy help/hurt us in the RPI and strength of schedule? At the time, early in the year, none of us were sure how good/bad Cincy would be.

    Cincy’s only 2 losses are to a New Mexico at 16-4 and a city rival Xavier at 15-5.


    Great work VAWolf.

    As it stands today, I think the ACC gets 6 in (the top 5 + UNC). UNC, FSU, State and WF have a chance to play their way in or out.

    State got a big win last night, but FSU and WF missed golden opportunities. For every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction.

    NC State really needs a win over UNC. With our luck, the top 5 beating UNC team shows up and is paired up with an officiating crew that really studies the “tendencies.”


    State lost to Cincy, so it doesn’t matter very much how they do come Selection Sunday. A better W/L record would help State’s SOS, but that will be a pretty minor effect over-all.


    Thanks VaWolf – I know losses are losses and W/L record is always beneficial. Just curious what a “good” loss on their court might mean. I still think the MZ loss on our court will end up being the one we cannot afford.


    With two game left against an improving UNC-CH we may end up with the remaining schedule being equally as difficult as the competed portion was.

    A win on Saturday and we will move squarely onto the bubble.


    Personally, I don’t believe that there is such a thing as good loss. I believe that the best you can hope for is that your losses are not face-palm worthy and truly embarrassing.

    I’m also not convinced that the so-called bad losses matter all that much when it comes down to picking through the bubble. Usually every team among the last 5-10 to pick from has warts on their resume. It’s alot easier to see who the Bubble teams have beaten than trying to decide how to evaluate a 20-pt loss to #10 versus a 2-pt loss to #25.


    Agreed VaWolf. The last team is is basically the winner of the Fat Chick Bikini Contest.


    Amazing analysis, thank you!


    I was looking at Joe Lunardi’s prediction on ESPN. I’m kind of scratching my head at his prediction that the PAC 12 will get 7 teams. I understand Arizona is undefeated. No other ranked teams in that league. Yet they are holding down a majority of the bubble spots. I’m not going to waste my time researching the PAC 12 at this point. Can anybody shed any light here?


    AP rankings are worthless. Look at RPI or The Dance Card.


    I’m not going to waste my time researching the PAC 12 at this point. Can anybody shed any light here?

    ^Has to be purely numbers based … Not one resume sticks out aside from Arizona’s. As you said, no need to worry about it at this point. I’d be shocked if they sniffed six bids. Nobody outside of ‘Zona did anything of real relevance in the non-con (Arizona St. lost on neutral court to Miami; Washington lost on neutral court to BC – lollll) .. I’d give a clear edge to the ACC in that department. Problem for the ACC at this point is being ‘top heavy’ (good imagery, but still).

    I feel confident about the ACC getting six though, seven may be possible (we – NC State need for it to be) – but we’ll see. FSU and Unx appear to be the front-runners for numbers 5 and 6, respectively … NC State, Wake and Clemson are still alive for number seven. State is definitely alive for sliding into the ‘comfortable’ fifth slot thanks to the win last night and our upcoming schedule (Unx twice, Wake at home, and other opportunities like Syracuse + Pitt). Wake’s still alive for number six having beaten State and Unx … I do not expect this to last, though. We’d better trounce them in Raleigh, and I foresee plenty of losses for them on the horizon. We’ll see what Clemson does, but they have to be stalwarts down the stretch and I can’t see that against their schedule. Our game at their place may not even matter much by Feb. 18th for either team, but we’ll see. The schedule was not in our favor on this one (going there).

    Bottom line, we’re still alive! For now! 🙂

    Edit: I am fully aware that bid allocation has nothing to do with ‘conference vs. conference’ – it’s each team for itself. Grouping those teams by conference just makes illustrating a point simpler.


    I would say we are on the bubble right now. We were only 7 spots away from “in” before the FSU game.

    The key to our last 10 games will be to hold serve at home and to beat the bottom half teams on the road. If we do that I think there’s a great chance we’ll have a strong enough RPI to get an at-large bid.


    If we split UNC and find a way to win one of the games at Syracuse or Pitt then we would get two solid resume building wins. Then we need to win 4 or 5 out of the remaining six. That would give us 20 or more wins with a chance earn more in the ACC tourney.

    When I saw the schedule at the beginning of the year I named February, “Roaduary.”

    How in the world did we get a schedule like that?

    I hope Florida State starts to fall apart. That would help. Better if Carolina did, but let’s be real. The powers that be love them and they would have to lose a lot more to get counted out. Florida State just won the National Championship in Football, so I’m not worried about their feelings for a few years.


    ^Actually, as VaWolf noted in the OP, we need FSU to continue to do well. They’re our only solid top 50 win … For now, we need them to stay there. We beat Pitt and/or Syracuse, then FSU can do what they want to 🙂


    Do remember that the committee does NOT look at conference mates as “either/or” – it’s much better for us for FSU to play well and stay a “quality win” (Top 25 would really be nice) rather than fall out of the at-large pool.


    ^Good Point. I guess I was just looking at it from the standpoint of finishing better than FSU. I think we have a shot at finishing 5th or 6th as of right now.


    It does not get any more simple — if we want to have any reason to hold on to conversations and hope about an NCAA Tournament bid we MUST win at Miami on Saturday. Period.

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