These conference updates are always a lot more fun after a win. So let’s get right to the conference summary table:
Let’s follow up my standard summary table with a few trending charts:
(Note that the graphs can be viewed full size by clicking on them.)
So let’s start our discussion with the big movers.
Starting the ACC schedule 0-3 was not exactly what the Bees had in mind. They’ve fallen from “IN” down into the outer regions of the bubble over the course of those first three games. I still haven’t watched them play and if they have another week like this past one, I won’t even bother.
Syracuse made a nice upward move that deserves a little closer look. A 3-0 start with wins on the road against GT and VT along with a home win against FSU is “good”, but certainly not impressive. Note that two of those wins came against the bottom third of the conference. Yet even with less than stellar competition, their overall SOS ranks 69 after an OOC SOS that currently ranks 81. My point here is that beating teams in the lower portion of the major conferences is better than beating the average mid-major…and of course road wins really help the RPI ranking as well.
However, I’m not ready to start making optimistic projections for the Orange. Their Top-100 wins came against GT (#57), Iowa (#66), and Long Beach State (#71). They have lost to Villanova (#5), St. John’s (#43), Michigan (#93) and Cal (#114). It’s pretty clear that Syracuse has a lot of work left to do if they want to make the NCAAT.
ND also made a nice move up the rankings with wins against GT and a road win in Chapel Hill. Along with the win over UNC, they also have a Top-50 win against Mich St and a couple of potentially good wins against UMass (#54) and GT (#57). Their two losses were against Top 25 teams. So if you compare their top wins and losses to both State and Syracuse, you would expect ND to be ranked higher than both teams. However, their miserable OOC schedule (currently ranked 301) is dragging their ranking down. I’ll spare you another OOC scheduling tirade because it couldn’t happen to a nicer school.
Then of course, State made a huge leap up from the New Year’s entry with wins against Pitt and Duke along with a road loss to UVA. If you scan down the RPI rankings, there are only a few teams with 5 losses in the Top 40, including State. As of Sunday’s games, State’s overall SOS ranks 7th and that is clearly paying big dividends in State’s current RPI ranking. The overall SOS will likely fall when State plays the weaker teams in the ACC, but once again State’s OOC schedule will help balance things out.
Of course, there has to be some bad news to go along with the big win on Sunday. Pitt lost to Clemson at home (repeat that to yourself at least two more times) dropping to RPI Ranking #88 and falling out of sight low on the Bubble Graph. After Duke, State’s next three best wins are Tenn (#69) (déjà vu to last year), Boise State (#74), and Pitt. So it looks like Duke could easily end up being the only resume building win through this part of the schedule. Obviously this is not the end of the world, but it would be nice if a few of the teams that State has beaten would actually pick up the pace after losing to State.
One other thing to keep in mind…After Wednesday’s game against UNC, State will have played four of its first five games at home. Thus there are a lot of road games coming up for State, especially in the second half of the schedule.
In the Jan 1 entry, we had a commenter making some brash projections about the bottom of the ACC. So let’s see how those projections are doing so far:
So far, the increase in SOS has improved the RPI rankings pretty much across the board for the ACC. It will be interesting to follow this graph through the season…especially since half of the conference already has a losing conference record and three teams are still looking for their first conference win.