ACC Mid-Season Review

Now that we’ve reached the half-way point in the conference schedule, you would think that we could divide the conference into the good, the bad, and the forgettable.    But somehow over the last two weeks, various teams have managed to change directions and are blurring the cross over points between the expected groups.

For starters, UNC and FSU decided to converge and invalidate some of the SOS projections that I made last week.   There’s probably a lesson in there somewhere….about the dangers and differences between analyzing facts and making projections.    I’m pretty good at the former, but not so much the latter.   So let’s get back to analysis and look at the teams playing for NCAAT seeding and those on the good side of the bubble.


I’ve changed the aspect ratio and extent to display the timespan required for the entire conference schedule.    This different aspect ratio highlights FSU’s freefall over the last several weeks…losing four of five games (and three in row) to fall back down on the bubble.   A home win against VT last night stopped the bleeding (for now at least).

Before the FSU-NCSU game, I commented that Hamilton had been channeling his inner-Sendek by losing to the other teams in the top 1/3 of the conference and beating everyone else.   But losses to State and Clemson, along with the loss of their leading scorer to a sprained ankle raise questions about exactly where FSU fits among the conference hierarchy.  Their best wins are OOC (UMass and VCU) and last Sunday’s Dance Card has them listed as the first team out.

Here is FSU’s remaining schedule with one note for clarification…since UNC and FSU can’t decide where they fit in the conference, I’m done with picking for them.   So I’ll call both schools “undecided” until they work out their issues:

  • Top – @Pitt, SYR
  • Undecided – UNC
  • Middle – @UMD, @WF,
  • Bottom – UM, GT, @BC

UNC has managed to move from a 1-4 conference record to a winning one by beating Clemson, State, and UMD at home along with GT on the road.   (Yea I know, not exactly an impressive set of wins.)   But as I said on New Year’s Day, their wins against Mich St, Kentucky, and Louisville mean that UNC only needs about a 10-8 conference record and a bubble RPI to get into the NCAAT.    That’s a good thing for UNC fans because at #62, State is their best conference win so far.

Today’s expanded “IN” graph shows how UNC’s winning streak moved them through and above our bubble criteria   Winning multiple ACC games will always pay off, even if they are not signature wins.   The other thing to notice is the difference between where UNC entered the conference season versus where they are now.   You need to do a lot better than one game over 0.500 in conference if you want to move up against national competition.

UNC’s schedule looks pretty balanced to me (but a little harder than FSU’s):

  • Top – Duke(x2), Pitt
  • Undecided – @FSU
  • Middle – @NCSU, WF
  • Bottom – ND(x2), @VT

From the beginning of the conference schedule, Syracuse has looked like the class of the ACC.   Their remaining schedule is about as tough as the ACC can manage this year especially with their toughest games all on the road.

  •  Top – @Pitt, @Duke, @UVA
  • Undecided – @FSU
  • Middle – Clemson, NCSU, @UMD
  • Bottom – BC, GT

Duke and UVa are both clearly playing for seeding in the ACCT and the NCAAT.   Duke’s early stumbles on the road have positioned UVa firmly in second place.    With UVa’s easier schedule, Duke will need help from some unexpected places if they are going to catch the Cavs.

Duke Schedule

  • Top – SYR
  • Undecided – UNC(x2)
  • Middle – UMD, WF
  • Bottom – @BC, @GT, VT

UVA Schedule

  • Top – SYR
  • Middle – UMD (x2), @Clemson,
  • Bottom – @GT, @VT, ND, UM

On New Year’s Day, I said that it was hard to tell how good Pitt was because they hadn’t really beaten anyone.   Unfortunately for Pitt, that hasn’t changed much:

  • Record Breakdown:
  • vs Top 25:  0-4,
  • vs 26-50:  1-0,
  • vs 51+:  18-0

Pitt’s back-to-back home losses to Duke and UVa lead me to pencil them into the 4 seed in the ACCT…based on both their performances against the top three as well as losing the tie-breaker to both Duke and UVa.    If Pitt can’t hang onto fourth place with this schedule, then they’re not nearly as good as I’ve concluded by watching them play:

  • Top – SYR,
  • Undecided – @UNC, FSU
  • Middle – NCSU, @Clemson
  • Bottom – VT, @BC, @ND

Here’s a snapshot of the Bubble’s backside:


I haven’t really paid any attention to Clemson, even with their upset of Duke early in the year.   I expected Clemson to lose @FSU and eventually drop completely off the Bubble chart.     But a road win @FSU (after FSU’s leading scorer twisted his ankle) and a home win (struggle against GT) has Clemson working their way up the bubble instead.

Clemson has 3 wins against the bottom of the conference to go along with FSU, Duke, and WF.   Three losses @UNC, @Pitt, and FSU are certainly nothing to be ashamed of.   All of this means that Clemson currently sits at 6-3 and tied for fourth place in the ACC.

Clemson’s biggest problem is not their W/L record.   It’s a horrible OOC schedule that looks worse and worse as the season progresses.    Their OOC SOS has dropped about 50 spots since our first look on New Year’s Day.   It currently sits at #292 and is moving into that zone where we’ve seen the Selection Committee take punitive action in the past AS WELL AS dragging their RPI ranking so low that their accomplishments in the ACC are easy to overlook.

On the off chance that you think that I’m full of excrement, the Dance Card has them 20 spots below the burst line, over a dozen spots behind State, and one spot behind WF.   Note that Clemson has a better overall record, a better conference record, and better wins than State or WF…but is actually much further from the NCAAT than State.   Once again let me point out that you don’t need a back-breaking OOC schedule to put yourself in a good position for an at-large bid.  (State’s OOC schedule is only ranked #109.)    But there is absolutely no reason for an ACC team to have an OOC schedule ranking near #300.   (End of Diatribe #238 on the importance of OOC scheduling.)

There’s still plenty of time left for Clemson if they’re really good enough.   (I’ll give my basis for that statement next week as this length of this entry has already gotten out of hand.)   Their remaining schedule looks fairly well-balanced but is a step up in difficulty when compared to their first-half schedule:

  • Top – @SYR, UVA, Pitt
  • Middle – NCSU, @WF, UMD
  • Bottom – @ND, @GT, UM

Maryland looks like it is sitting pretty good shape with a 5-5 ACC record.   But if you expect me to say the same sorts of things about the Twerps as I did the Tiggers, then you’ll be disappointed.    UMD is 5-0 against the bottom 1/3 of the conference and 0-5 against the top 2/3.   Guess what?   UMD doesn’t have many games left against the bottom of the conference:

  • Top – UVA(x2), @Duke, SYR
  • Undecided – FSU
  • Middle – WF, @Clemson
  • Bottom – VT

 WF is in a three-game slide and is 3-6 since their win over UNC on Jan 5.   Not much good to talk about here as WF is in contention for the last slot on Wed in the ACCT.   Here’s WF’s remaining schedule

  • Top – Duke
  • Undecided – @UNC, FSU
  • Middle – @NCSU, @UMD, Clemson
  • Bottom – BC, @UM


NC State’s Upcoming Schedule

Miami has settled into the bottom third of the ACC in both RPI and conference standings.    Unfortunately, no one bothered to tell Larranaga.   UM just took one of the teams that has already spanked State (in Raleigh no less) into overtime.  Sat’s game might turn out to be an easy thrashing of a bottom-dweller…but I wouldn’t bet any money on it.

Wake Forest has the weekend off before heading to Raleigh for the rematch against State next Tuesday.   WF thinks that Miller-McIntyre’s sprained ankle will be strong enough to play by then.   (Their medical dept kept him out of this week’s game against Duke.)

State’s entire second-half schedule:

  • Top – @SYR, @Pitt
  • Undecided – UNC
  • Middle – WF, @Clemson
  • Bottom – UM(x2), @VT, BC

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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  • #39893

    Now that we’ve reached the half-way point in the conference schedule, you would think that we could divide the conference into the good, the bad, and the forgettable.
    [See the full post at: ACC Mid-Season Review]


    UNC undecided?

    No way! They’re IN. Do you think ESPN would allow them to sit out an NCAAT? They’ll manufacture a dozen excuses to include the Heels, although I think they’ve earned it at this point.

    Barring a total collapse, I think the “ins” and “outs” are pretty well determined in the minds of those who matter. The ACC will likely send Syracuse, Duke, UVA, Pitt and UNC to the NCAAT.

    Concerning the rest of the ACC, FSU, Clemson, WF, Maryland and the Wolfpack have much work to do. It’s likely already over for VT, BC, GT and Miami. The Seminoles need to beat Maryland Saturday; if they do, they have an excellent chance to Dance considering that they have both UNC and Syracuse at home in addition to an otherwise relatively easy late-season finish. Other than FSU, I don’t see any other ACC team making a late-season run for the NCAAT. Clemson may be close, but where’s the necessary ESPN storyline that would get them in? Beating Duke early will be long forgotten next month. And for us, the 95-60 loss to Duke won’t be forgotten by that committee.

    So much for the “greatest conference ever”.


    UNC undecided?
    No way! They’re IN.

    I clearly said that UNC had worked above the screening criteria that I use for bubble….and I have never said in any of these entries that UNC wouldn’t make the NCAAT. Here’s what I wrote:

    since UNC and FSU can’t decide where they fit in the conference, I’m done with picking for them. So I’ll call both schools “undecided” until they work out their issues:

    Do UNC and/or FSU deserve to be considered among the best in the conference or are they at the top of the “mess in the middle”? Time will tell.

    PS – Your claims about ESPN influencing the NCAAT selection sound pretty silly. I would suggest dropping that claim unless you have some pretty damning evidence.


    I appreciate the hours of work you put into these as I very much like the analytical side of life (and sports). As for UNC being undecided, I totally understand what you are saying. From a purely analytical (numbers) position, their in the “undecided” range. Analytically, we have to keep the “ESPN would never let them be kept out” discussion out of it.

    Thank you, VaWolf the hard work that so many of us, like myself, enjoy reading when I just need a break from writing this sql that I’m working on (i.e., killing time at work).


    I understood what you meant by UNC and FSU as undecided if they would join the top or not. It clearly shows that UNC is trending upwards and I believe they will hold the 5th spot if not climb above Pitt. Key games for them are us, and Pitt, @ FSU and their games against Duke, especially the home game. They would need 3 of those 5 to climb higher.

    As to the Wolfpack, I believe 11-7 gets us in, 10-8 is a high bubble, 9-9 no way. So we must win the middle and bottom games. Lose just one and we have to beat @Syr, UNC or @Pitt. To get to 11-7, we have to win all others and one of the those 3. I don’t think a strong tourney can help us at 9-9, unless maybe the finals combined with a strong RPI win or two.

    That said, I think we need the win at Pitt, and I’m worried about UNC.


    Additionally – 11-7 vs 10-8 vs 9-9 is not just about our conference record. It’s about what the wins and losses that it will take for the pack to achieve the conference record and what it would do for our RPI. 11-7 means no bad or even medium losses and a top 40 RPI Win along with 6 other good wins. It would be very tough to do.
    10-8 means going 6-3, either a top 40 win or no losses to our peers and the bottom dwellers. This also is looking very tough. The door is closing, our boys either have to kick it in or get out of the way.
    May they fight to the end. Go Pack


    Dang it, posted the below on the wrong thread. So much for the ‘genius’ option.

    From looking at the schedule, 5-4 or 4-5 is probably a rational, objective, expected baseline half way through conference play.

    Then it’s on, with the second half starting with Miami and Wake, before heading to Syracuse. My way too early and little informed projection has that game as our touchstone.

    -tjfoose1 01/02/2014 at 3:38 PM

    Pure genius at work.

    Or something akin to the blind squirrel thing. I prefer the former, but more likely that latter.


    Yep, we started the home stretch on the road and this is it. We need to be 8-6 when UNC comes to town, and then beat them or Pitt and Miami and BC.
    Maybe there’s not much chatter today because this task is about impossible and the Football Recruiting news offers more hope.
    Hope goes down hard. I’ll be hanging on every game.


    Funny that NC State beating GT at home actually resulted in a slight drop… But not nearly as big a drop as losing to them would cause (ahem… Wake Forest…).


    I think that 6-3 for the remainder of the season is not unreasonable, but agree that the most likely end will be 5-4 or 4-5.

    I believe that we will win 1 of the 3 games against Syracuse, Pitt, and UNC (would actually be best to win the Syracuse game), and we will win 5 of the 6 other games (probably losing one of the 2 vs. Miami).

    That would round out our season at 10-8, with 1 more good win, and another not so good loss (is any loss really good?).

    Then, our fate resides in the ACC tournament. We we about the dreaded first round, and win our second round game, we will have another “marquee” opportunity in the quarter finals vs. Syracuse/Pitt/Duke/VA.

    I think our “best dream” for the remainder of the regular season is 7-2, and on the bad side, we could go 3-6.


    Apparently I forgot my english in my excitement to type as fast as I possibly could…in the above…4th paragraph, 2nd sentence…should read

    We would avoid the dreaded first round


    We we about the dreaded first round

    Lost the edit button here, so this was the best I could do…


    ” (End of Diatribe #238 on the importance of OOC scheduling.)”

    ^But there can never be enough diatribes on this subject imo.

    Bottom line for State – we need to win a lot of games. We more-or-less need to sweep VaWolf’s ‘undecided’, ‘middle’, and ‘bottom’ games (‘bottom games’ – tee hee) unless we find a way to win at Syracuse. A win at Pitt would be helpful so far as raw numbers, but they’ve literally beaten no one of significance.


    The schedule from here on out is fairly winnable, with the tough games against SU and Pitt (and UNC given how bad they beat us, but we can turn the tables at home; we played awfully bad). We can go 6-3, though it will be tough.

    As for the ESPN remark, maybe 13 meant the NCAAT committee or Possibly CBS? Either way, ESPN has little to do with this one. The tourney is on CBS.


    9 or 10 conference wins doesn’t take too much fantasizing to account for. If we go 11-7 in conference we will be bubblicious at worst.


    Yes, PackFamily, I did mean CBS, but what I really meant is that tv has taken over the direction that the NCAAs have gone.

    But I still maintain that ESPN is responsible for WF, VT and Clemson being left out of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge this season, and were replaced by 3 teams that had at that time never played an ACC game (and two of them got home games on top of that). That was patently wrong. I understand television wanting good games, but the league should have told ESPN that the new teams would have to compete for one season before being slotted into this event. You can bet that never in a hundred years would UNC (or Duke) have been left out the way the Deacs, Hokies and Tigers were. And despite being an NCAAT team last year, our opponent was the B1G’s worst program.

    You can also look at ESPN’s Big Monday and see who gets all the games (Blues). Count ’em.

    And it is beyond obvious that ESPN wants Syracuse to be Duke’s “new” rival, which will more than likely limit the frequency of seasons in which we get to play Syracuse (and maybe even Duke too) twice. Who is naive enough to believe that next season, we’ll be playing both Syracuse and Louisville at home while Duke and UNC won’t?

    The bigger this league gets, the smaller schools like the Wolfpack, Wake Forest and Boston College will become to our own league officials. When the games that matter are shown, these 3 teams will seldom be included, especially if they’re not having a “top 20” season.

    Division One sports has become the land of the Big Dogs, and not in just revenue sports. Look no farther from here than Buies Creek, and what happened to Campbell last season when the NCAA baseball committee made its NCAAT selections.


    13ot – its hard to deny that is a possibility when you look at what happened in the big east. Of course, it’s a chicken-egg discussion. Will we be shut out because we are mediocre or are we mediocre because the conference and the mother ship arent giving us the publicity/ support as the big dogs?

    I tend to believe its because we suck. Hell, I am a state fan and I sometimes don’t want to watch us.


    You have to make your own luck. Wichita State made their own luck. Creighton made it. Butler made it. VCU made it. George Mason made it. Considering our resources, history/tradition, and fan support, NC State should not be playing the “woe is me” card and blaming others.


    ^ you are absolutely right Wulfpack. We are at the point were we have a good enough coach, and are recruiting enough high quality players that we need to make our own luck.

    There is no reason that State can’t be consistently a NCAA tournament team, making the tournament at least 3 of 4 years. The ceiling is higher than that, but that should be the floor.

    Once we make ourselves competitive in the ACC…as the story goes…if you build it, they will come.


    The credit for any successes and the blame for any failures of State’s programs lie solely within the confines of State’s athletic dept. To be more specific, you can blame/thank the head coaches. They hire their staffs, recruit their roster, pick the big-pictures strategy, teach the kids, and make the in-game decisions that can win/lose ball games.

    I just realized that I did an entry on this very subject as excuses for Herb were flowing like rain-water. (The entry was done a week before Herb fled to the desert.) We’ve lost a table and the punctuation has been scrambled during the various site-upgrades, but it’s just as valid today as the day I wrote it.


    Regarding bubbles, LSU lost to uga last night. That’s a very good thing for us.

    There is a ton of volatility on the bubble… and right now we are on the wrong side of it. However, if we win our next 2, we will be “in” on dance card (depending on what the teams right around us do.)

    For reference, fsu went from being “in” solidly to being out with 2 consecutive losses.


    One word of caution about the Dance Card…..State’s current position is based on two Top-50 wins (Tenn and FSU). It is possible for State’s position to degrade even with two wins over the next week if Tenn and/or FSU drop out of the Top 50 (both currently in the 40’s).


    Good info vawolf. Tennessee has held steady….FSU OTOH. Pulling hard for noles. Of course, if we can take UNC @ home we can make some of this academic. (I would guess we can make this all Academic by winning 7 of our next 10.) We have the schedule to do it…an NCAA worthy team would go 7-3 vs. That schedule.

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