Sunday was the second of six consecutive days with at least one ACC basketball game being played. So the RPI rankings discussed below were valid thru Saturday’s games. After all, does anyone really think that the UNC/VT game is going to change anything meaningful in the discussion?
Before we get to the summary table, I’ve got a preliminary list on the leading contenders for easiest and hardest conference schedules. (Since the ACC teams only play four home/home series during the conference schedule, there is frequently a huge disparity in conference SOS.) So here are the teams on the various watch lists with their home/home opponents:
Easiest Conference Schedule
- FSU (Miami, Pitt, Clemson, VT)
Hardest Conference Schedule
- UNC (Duke, L’ville, NCSU, GT)
- L’ville (UVA, UNC, Miami, Pitt)
- WF (UVA, Duke, NCSU, FSU)
Easiest Conference Schedule among teams in upper half of the conference
- ND (Duke, Clemson, GT, BC)
- Miami (L’ville, BC, FSU, VT)
Where the huge disparity in schedule strength could come into play is the splits between who plays on Tue, Wed, and Thurs in the ACCT. (Everyone caught the news that the ACCT runs from Tue-Sat, right?) This is not anything that we need to beat to death today, but just something to keep in mind as the season unfolds. So let’s move onto to the summary table:
ND and Pitt stretch my definitions a bit, but I’m feeling generous after the miracle comeback by Seattle. With only four teams ranked 100+, this is the best that the ACC has looked this year. (As long as you don’t notice that GT is in the Top-100 AND 0-5 in conference.) Eventually, we’ll need to dissect the key wins on each NCAAT or bubble team, but I’m content to just watch the games and standings for now. There are plenty of potential wins available for any ACC team. It’s just a matter of whether or not they are really good enough.
Clemson’s paw print showed up at the bottom of the bubble graph when I updated the info on Thursday. A lot of RPI haters would use their path closer to the bubble as a launching point for another diatribe. So exactly how did Clemson move from a ranking of #147 on the Jan 1 entry to #85 in just four games?
- Jan 3 Lost at home to UNC
- Jan 7 Lost on road to L’ville
- Jan 10 Won on road at Pitt
- Jan 13 Lost on road at UVa
So losing to three really good teams and beating one almost-bubble team is worth a 60 point jump in RPI Ranking? The obvious answer is yes, but it is not worth getting too worked up over for several reasons:
- The RPI rankings can swing widely from one game to the next early in the season
- As you drop down in the RPI rankings, the swings are going to be much larger than is seen in the regions we normally examine.
- Clemson’s huge jump in SOS will eventually be balanced out when they play the teams in the lower half of the ACC.
How much did Clemson’s SOS improve? From an OOC SOS ranking of 153 (which is abnormally high compared to past Clemson teams) to an overall ranking of 36 after playing Syracuse is a pretty impressive jump. But it takes a lot more than a tough schedule to get into the NCAAT. Clemson will have to come up with a lot more wins if they are going to accomplish that…but they at least have a good start. Wins against #29 Arkansas, #48 LSU, and #55 Syracuse are a really good start while losses to Gardner Webb and Winthrop are not. We’ll watch Clemson while they’re interesting and remove them as quickly as GT if they head back towards the bottom of the conference.
Let’s move on to the trend graphs.
I like having a lot of teams to track and for a good number to be in the top part of the bubble. As we saw last year with UNC, it will only take a short winning streak for any ACC team to move from ~55 to ~35. Of course saying it often proves a lot easier than actually doing it.
Assuming that the bottom five teams stay put, one of these teams will have to join the Bottom Five on Tuesday at the ACCT. It will be interesting to see how conference SOS plays into that process.
Both State and ND play on the road on Thursday and then play in Raleigh on Sun. Tough stretch…tougher for ND.
It will also be tough on ratings…the State/Miami game looks like the most interesting midweek game.
The weekend slate isn’t much better:
- Battle of the Bubble on Sat with Miami playing at Syracuse.
- ND at NCSU is the only game with two Top 50 ACC teams
- L’ville at Pitt gives the Panthers a chance at their best win of the year.
- Duke at St Johns might be interesting (or at least the most interesting thing at 2 pm on Sunday)