Snowy ACC Update


Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night can stop our weekly ACC updates.   I hope that everyone stuck in what passes for a blizzard in the southeast is most of all warm and safe…followed closely by continuing cable/satellite and internet access.

Just remember that you can’t fix stupid because I’m sure that there will be a lot of that driving around.    Driving in snow (even for someone from NC) is not that difficult, but driving in a pinball machine can be quite hazardous. Here in Central VA, it looks like our accumulation was towards the bottom of what was forecasted (~6-8 inches) with a chance for some more this afternoon.   If my company decides to open tomorrow, I expect that I will develop an “eye problem”; as in “I just can’t see it”.

We have another thread for the weather anyway, so let’s move on to the update.  I have adjusted the scale on our two charts so that they both display RPI rankings from 35-45 to give a little context to the way UNC and FSU have moved over the last several weeks.    As long as you recognize that FSU’s inclusion is a sign of what used to be, then I expect that most people would agree that these five teams are near certain locks for the NCAAT.   It would take a collapse of Herbian proportions (circa 2000) to move any of these teams to the NIT.



WARNING – Those who go cross-eyed when the details of RPI calculations are discussed should start skimming now.

As predicted, the movement of these teams through the Top 40 has essentially plateaued.   I’ve never dug into the minutiae of the calculations, but there has to be several different effects going on.   First, as the number of games played increases, the change in the calculated RPI results for any one game begins to decrease.   If the calculated RPI value doesn’t change very much, then the ranking can’t change very much either.

Another effect is that all of the vertical blanks in our charts are actually other teams.   As the season moves on, the riff-raff (like FSU) falls away and eventually is out of the picture.   So at some point in the season, upward movement mostly happens as the teams above you lose.  (Of course, downward movement is not impeded.)

I expect that most of our readers understand why an undefeated Syracuse (and Wichita St) are not at the top of the RPI rankings….Strength of Schedule.   It’s not that Syracuse has a weak schedule, but there are a lot of teams with stronger ones (51 teams to be exact)…and the strongest schedules are simply insane.   For example, check out Kansas (#1 in SOS and RPI):

  • 9 out of 24 games are against Top-25 teams.
  • 14 out of 24 games are against Top-50 teams.
  • Only 3 games are against #100+ teams


Let’s move to the bubble teams for another example of the effect of SOS and winning percentage play out in the RPI Rankings.


From our chart, UNC bottomed out on Jan 23 with a 1-4 conference record.   Yet FSU appears to be in free fall with a 5-7 conference record.   Why the difference?    UNC’s OOC SOS is ranked 24th and helped cushion their fall at the start of the ACC schedule.   FSU’s overall schedule is ranked #41 and provides less cushion.    There is also a matter of perspective as UNC quit losing by the end of Jan and no one knows when FSU will stop.

Let’s take a closer look at UNC’s five game winning streak.    The streak is made up of home wins against the middle of the conference (UMD, Clemson, and NCSU) and on the road against teams from the bottom third of the conference (GT and ND).    This lucky bit of scheduling maximized the chances of winning by having what should have been the toughest teams travel to CH and maximized the RPI effect by playing the weakest teams on the road.   (They also dodged the two RPI anchors in the ACC, BC and VT, during the winning streak.)

What’s interesting is that the win at ND had essentially no effect on their RPI ranking?   Why?   Let’s start with the simplified RPI formula.


I checked on Wednesday and found that UNC had one of the highest RPI rankings for a team with seven losses.    I don’t intend to calculate or even look up the adjusted winning percentages, but their overall SOS ranking is #21.   So it follows that their winning percentage has caused their RPI ranking to plateau in the upper 30s.   Exactly like Kansas’ #1 SOS has moved their RPI ranking (even with six losses) above Syracuse’s undefeated ranking.   Bottom line…both SOS and winning percentage have big effects on a team’s RPI and you have to consider both when evaluating changes in RPI rankings.

If anyone wants to discuss/argue/question my RPI conclusions, we can hash out any issues in the comments.   But let’s bring back the folks reading through glazed-over eyes.   If you were skimming to find the end of the RPI crap, it’s safe to start reading again.



Mark Gottfried

What are you doing?    You’re killing me!

With two wins (against teams that will playing on Wed in the ACCT), State is at its highest point in the RPI rankings since conference play began.   But FSU’s collapse leaves State with only one Top 50 win and Tenn is barely hanging on at #50 today.   Bottom line, State fans need State, FSU, and Tenn to get more wins NOW.    FSU’s collapse adds even more importance to the UNC game in Raleigh.




In the basketball world, there are a lot of people staring down at the bubble teams.   The problem is that all those at the top of the hole are going to be even less help than Piglett.    The bubble teams dug their own hole and it’s going to up to them to see which ones can climb out.    Let’s highlight two ACC teams from the past that managed to climb out of deep holes.




A few words of clarification:

–        The opponents RPI ranking is that team’s final ranking for the year.

–        The only OOC games listed are Top 50 wins.

–        The RPI rankings down the right hand side of the tables show how the RPI changed through the ACC schedule and ACCT.

Both teams finished the regular season with 7-9 conference records, which is a really big negative on Selection Sunday.   So we can consider both of these examples as “worst-case”.

Let’s look at few similarities between these two teams.

–        From Feb 1 through the end of the ACCT, both teams compiled a 6-6 record.   Conclusion:  a red-hot finish is not required to overcome a poor start.

–        Both teams had multiple Top-50 wins and both teams had at least one Top 25 win.    Conclusion:   if you want to get an at-large bid, you need several victories worth noting.

–        Both teams beat MOST of the teams that they were supposed to beat, but both teams stumbled in Feb.  Conclusion:   You can still recover from a bad game, even at the end of the regular season (check out UMD’s bad loss to UVA just before the ACCT).

–        Both teams beat an RPI Top 25 in the ACCT.    Conclusion:   A big win in the ACCT is very good and most likely required.

Within the last several years, the Selection Committee has specifically stated that all wins will be given equal weight regardless of when they occurred in the season.  Before this statement was made, it was easy to show that wins in conference tournaments were given more weight.    I’m still waiting on a good example where a bubble team got in with Dec wins over a team with March wins.    So until proven otherwise, I’m going to assume that a big win in the ACCT carries as much weight today as it has in the past.

It’s especially interesting to note that in 2005, NCSU’s RPI ranking was #76 before the ACCT; which is worse than any team that has ever received an at-large bid.   Unless I’ve missed something over the last few years, this NCSU team’s final ranking of #63 is the worst RPI ranking of any BCS team that received an at-large bid to the NCAAT.

So it is possible to dig yourself out of a hole as long as you are actually good enough to beat good teams.  It is not particularly clear that any of the four ACC teams within the historical bubble range are in fact good enough to earn an at-large bid.    But as we saw with several of Herb’s NCSU teams, it doesn’t take that many big wins to earn an at-large bid.


Upcoming NCSU Schedule

State finishes up its terrible early Feb schedule with road trips to Syracuse on Sat and Clemson/VT next week.   Going 0-2 between now and next week’s update would NOT aid in climbing out of the hole State finds itself in.

Next week’s update won’t be out until Friday so that we can capture the rankings after the Thursday night UNC/Duke makeup game.

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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This topic contains 50 replies, has 27 voices, and was last updated by  VaWolf82 4 years, 3 months ago.

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    Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night can stop our weekly ACC updates.  
    [See the full post at: Snowy ACC Update]



    I don’t see any way we make the NCAA tournament this year. We haven’t risen above our level all season, and I don’t know why we would start to now. We’ll probably win some of the games we should be close in, lose to Syracuse and Pitt, still not have any good top 50 wins, and be NIT bound.



    Wow, less than 10 years ago WF and GT had good teams….



    I know it is highly unlikely and there is probably money involved, but I would love it if Deb Yow decided we are never going to the NIT. Nobody cares about it. It is a sign of failure. And I don’t buy into the “tournament exposure helps us get ready for tourney play next year” crap. You ever hear anyone say, “the reason we did so well in the NCAAT this year is because we tore up the NIT last year”? Nope.

    I say, NCAAT or nothing.



    These numbers are great, but all we need to do is win, the rest will take care of itself. Stay focused on defense, don’t turn the ball over, and make our free throws. That’s what this team needs to focus on, those are all things within their control. The things that they lack, which are well documented, are things that can’t be easily changed. But, we have shown stretches of play this year that indicate that we at least have the raw talent to beat most any team we play. I see no reason why team confidence, momentum, and TJ can’t carry us to a bid.



    But, we have shown stretches of play this year that indicate that we at least have the raw talent to beat most any team we play.

    I’m sorry that I missed those stretches.



    I’m sorry that I missed those stretches.

    You must a blinked.



    How does Lunardi still have Clemson above State in his bracketology? Granted, he doesn’t have them as in, but he does have them as the 6th team out on the bubble, with State nowhere to be seen on said bubble. He still has FSU in, as well. That says a lot about the value he places on who you beat.

    FSU RPI – 64
    FSU SOS – 43
    *wins over VCU (23) and UMass (20) on neutral floors

    Clemson RPI – 68
    Clemson SOS – 127
    *Win over Duke (8) at home

    No-Man’s Land:
    State RPI – 51
    State SOS – 39
    *win @ Tenn. (50)

    Better numbers, but no wins to speak of. They have to win at least one of the @ Cuse, UNC, @ Pitt games, but I don’t see it happening. This season’s chances at the NCAA Tourney were over very early (January 4th) with the Pitt home loss, preceded by the @ Cincy loss in November and the Missouri home loss.

    FSU, like State, has 3 opportunities to boost their RPI before the ACCT, with 2 of the 3 being at home. Tennessee will need to hold on for dear life to remain a top 50 team, as they only have 2 remaining games against number 48 Missouri as their only two games providing any sort of opportunity. They could do something in the SECT, though. That said, State could very easily end up with 0 top 50 wins. I actually think this is the most likely scenario.

    More or less, State is not in a very good position at the moment, but they have some opportunities ahead. Still, I can’t see it happening. Too many chances squandered.

    I’m not that disappointed, though. I didn’t expect anything above middle of the pack in the ACC this year, and am actually pleased with that outcome. They’ve gotten better as the season has progressed, and that is nice to see. I hope TJ comes back. If so, next year could be an above average season. If not, likely more of the same, but like I said, if “the same” means getting better as the season goes on, then that is fine by me. If you put enough seasons like that together, you may rise to the top eventually.



    How about some damn defensive rebounding would be nice to see. I think we could have blown out a few more teams if we could just catch the ball coming off the opponents rim. Esp the Miami game.
    And FT rebounding. Holy crap. I used to take it for granted that when the other team missed FT’s we could get the ball. Not anymore. I’d say we have a 50/50 shot of getting a rebound off a missed FT. That alone has to be the most frustrating part of this team.
    Aside from that, I do enjoy watching this team. They seem to have pretty good chemistry and I feel they have it in them to go on a decent run and make a good showing in the ACCT. I could see a late season surge similar to Lowe’s first year team.



    Well, even with all the RPI discussion, it still looks like going 10-8 in conference is bubble with some work to do in the tourney and 11-7 should be in.
    But, per above, it would be better if that 10-8 (4-3 rest of way) came with a win against Cuse, UNX or Pitt and a loss against one of the others, then to beat all the others and lose those 3.



    If we thread the needle, beating all remaining teams except UNC, SYR, and PITT, we fishing 10-8 with no top wins. IMO we’ll need 2 in the ACC T.

    If we finish 10-8, beating PITT, SYR, UNC, and choking to one of others (a much higher probability than scenario above IMO) we probably need 1 in the ACC T.

    If we manage 11-7, winning 9 of last 13 with at least 1 win over UNC, SYR, PITT, I think we are in even with 1st rd loss in ACC T….We’ll sweat like heck on selection Sunday though.

    Only longshot win in last 7 is SYR. PITT and UNC are definitely winnable. I would be pleasantly surprised if we don’t lose @ Clemson or trip against at least 1 bottom feeder.



    hpack, you have it about right. Maybe we only need 1 win in tourney at 10-8 w no big wins, but assuming that 1 win is not a big, then, yea, two wins, because that second win will finally be our big win. Or we could get lucky and the selection committee realizes we are better than FSU and Clemson and does not want to stick the ACC w only 5 teams. Personally I think they would love to shaft the ACC.
    I think we need to win at Clemson and at Pitt on our way to 11-7.
    But this was a long shot a week ago. We expected to win the last two so going 4-3 is still a bit of a long shot. Going 5-2 will take some real gutsy performances.



    +1 for VaWolf. I missed those stretches as well. We arent awful, but were not real good either.



    10-8 with wins over @Clemson and UNC, and no loses against lower-half ACC teams, might be the most realistic best possible outcome. (I don’t see @Pitt in the cards for this young team, and @Syracuse goes without saying). And if they pull off @Clemson and UNC, which are remaining, important barometer games, then they certainly should be good enough to put 1 or 2 together in the ACCT.



    I’ve got no problem with the NIT this year, with this roster makeup. This definitely doesn’t have the feel of a team that could make a surprise run once in the NCAAT, anyway.



    Selection committee has no issue shafting the ACC. The brand has been tarnished for some time now.

    PITT feels like a redemption game. I think we’ll have a good shot.

    The holes’ season is very similar to ours. I think we have a good shot.

    @ Clemson has been a house of horrors over the years.

    TJW is improving every game. Now, with 3 point shot, he’s becoming unguardable. Can finally bust zones by putting TJW on one wing and RT on the other. Would love to see TJW go off in ACC T and finallly bring one home for the Pack. (hey, we can dream)



    VA, we’ve had this discussion before. I know you are a numbers guy, but when I watch a game I don’t see statistics, I see how the teams are playing. Every game this year, and I have watched them all, we have had stretches where we went on 10-0 runs, played tough defense, converted on offense, out hustled the opponent, etc. The only exception was the UVA game, in which we played like turds from the tip. Even the Duke game, we had a run early in the first half to tie the game up in which we played some fundamentally sound ball. The team is talented, but outside of TJ, they are all very raw, and we all knew (or should have known) this coming in to this year. If you read my post, you will see that I said that based on raw talent we can beat anyone on our schedule. If you can’t see that raw talent that these kids have, then there’s nothing I can do to show you what I’m talking about. And if you haven’t seen those stretches where we looked really good, then you weren’t paying attention, or just reading the box score. Nowhere did I say we were a good team. But I can tell the difference between a talented team that is on the cusp of putting it all together, and a crap team that has reached a plateau, I’ve seen enough of those over the years.



    Games last a lot longer than 3-5 minutes (or even 20 against Pitt). What I’ve seen is State get blown out by every good team that they’ve played. That doesn’t even include losing to Central and choking away a huge lead against Mizzu.



    What I’ve seen is State get blown out by every good team that they’ve played.

    Yep. And IF we are fortunate enough to be in the discussion, don’t think for a minute that this won’t be the story. As it should. We’ve got to show something against the good teams left on our schedule – we’ve got to show we belong. I don’t currently think we do.



    But I can tell the difference between a talented team that is on the cusp of putting it all together, and a crap team that has reached a plateau, I’ve seen enough of those over the years.

    … and this year’s team definitely ain’t one of those year’s teams…

    Wolf82… you GOTTa at least agree… that this year’s team is a better team with more potential than last year’s team…

    I’ll betcha a buck right now…. that by the end of the season… this year’s team will be 30-50% better than they are right now…
    They have turned the corner and will strong… if injuries and some external craziness doesn’t stop them/

    #NCSU-North Carolina's #1 FOOTBALL school!


    Maybe OT, but Wolfpack WBB is 22-3, ranked 10/13 and a VERY tough group of players IMHHO. The ladies DESERVE our support and I see no topics in this regard!

    Otherwise, in my view, NCAAT or nothing for MBB. What’s the NIT!!!!


    john of sparta

    wins regardless of when?
    well, maybe, but wins at the end (against anyone)
    have been the tie-breaker in Ever(ett)y Case.



    Wilmwolf80 – “Can’t you say something righteous and positive for a change?”

    Just kidding of course. The answer to that movie line would also apply to “What did State’s math look like towards the end of the regular season in 83?”


    Nobody knows where this team is going. I just hope Gott can keep a straight face when he tells TJ, we need you to play at a higher level the rest of the way.



    Hey all,

    I find myself unable to post in the forums. It just gives me a message saying “Error: Your reply cannot be created at this time.” Is it just me? Anyone else having this problem?



    I love the stats although I would not spent the work developing them so many thanks there. Beside the stats the old eye test shows me a young team that is in the midst of sorting things out as compared to last year’s team that was talented, experienced and consumed with chemistry issues. At this point I see a true bubble team for the NCAAT but I also see a team on an upward track.

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