I enjoy doing these weekly updates on ACC basketball. (I guess that’s a good thing because the pay certainly sucks.) But I would hate to do a bracket for the entire NCAAT on a weekly or more frequent basis. The danger in trying to do too much too frequently was nicely illustrated before the Duke/UNC game when Lundardi’s top two seeds were shown. He had UNC as a 1-seed, but before the game they had already dropped to #8 in the RPI Rankings. There is no way in God’s green earth that UNC would have been given a 1-seed with that ranking.
The danger in attempting frequent, comprehensive analyses is the twin errors of inertia and predictions. Teams rated highly are left there too long after they begin to falter…either because the faltering is missed or the assumption that they are going to recover. The flip side of these twin errors is that rising teams are not always picked up quick enough. Much like what goes on in AP rankings, “name” programs seem to hang around in brackets longer than their play this season has earned.
The simplistic technique we use avoids these twin errors by setting objective measures based on RPI and conference record. Towards the end of the regular season we roll in Top-50 wins to help pick through the large band encompassed by “The Bubble”. Thus when a team like Duke goes two months without a Top-50 win and is trending towards 0.500 in conference, I point it out. When Clemson climbs from an RPI Ranking of #236 on Jan 1 to #70 after a month of conference play, it’s worth taking note. But I try to limit my discussion from these facts to possibilities, not predictions.
So off my soap box and on to the RPI Table:
With no Thursday night ACC games, I’m using Thursday’s RPI rankings for this article. By the time this gets published Friday morning, I expect that there will be some small movements in either direction for the RPI Ranking, but at least there won’t be any relative motion among the ACC teams.
Last week, I said not to be too quick to pencil in UVA as a #2 seed. But I never expected that they could move out of the 2-seed into a #1 seed. They may not make it to a 1-seed, but their remaining schedule is tough enough that they certainly have the opportunity to make the pundits forget about their coronation of UNC as the class of the ACC.
In a continuation of my unusually generous streak, I’ve kept Pitt as “IN” even though their recent performance doesn’t really justify it. Their wins over the last month of conference play came at home against BC, VT, and WF and a road win against FSU…not exactly an awe-inspiring record. As we’ll see in a few minutes, the Dance Card calculations through Wed’s games may have influenced my generosity.
Note that RPI Rankings #40 -#45 are included in both graphs and you need both graphs to see FSU’s recent decline…
Let’s throw in the Dance Card too:
So moving Pitt out of the “IN” category implies that there is someone ready to take their spot…and right now, candidates seem to be in short supply.
Referring back to the RPI Table, Pitt has one Top-25 win and a total of two Top-50 wins. Throw in the fact that they’re only one game over 0.500 in conference play, you would naturally conclude that Pitt is just holding onto a bid. So I expected Pitt to be near the bottom of the Dance Card “IN”, but never expected them to be the absolutely last team in. Looking at Pitt ‘s position another way, if SMU and L’ville were eligible for the NCAAT, then Pitt would be out. That conclusion makes it look like getting off the Bubble is going to be tougher than in recent years.
Bottom line for Pitt is that they need to win more games than the teams looking to move above them, so it’s impossible to say how many games will be required. Here are their remaining regular season games:
It would be interesting to see what a 3-2 record down the stretch (ie 10-8 conference record) would do for Pitt’s NCAAT chances. 2-3 down the stretch (9-9 in conference) would probably require a Thursday ACCT win to be a lock for a NCAAT bid (or some help from Temple and others).
FSU’s three game losing streak has them two games under 0.500 in conference with two weeks left to play….not a good position (confirmed by the Dance Card). Here are their remaining games:
I just got through saying that I don’t like to make predictions, but I don’t like FSU’s chances.
Clemson’s two-game, home winning streak against GT and BC hasn’t gotten anyone’s attention. Several weeks ago, I was really optimistic on Clemson’s chances. But their play, especially on the road, has not backed up my optimism. Here’s their remaining schedule:
If Clemson is a NCAAT team, then winning three road games against three of the worst teams in the conference should be an easy task. But Clemson has a lot of ground to make up and we’ll see what we see…
CURRENT ACC STANDINGS
The battle at the top of the conference has gotten a lot more interesting over the last two weeks.
It looks like one of the Techs will miss Tuesday’s ACCT games for the first time since the last conference expansion.
I’m never surprised when either the winner or loser of an emotional game falls in the next game. Both UNC and Duke face real competition on Saturday, so I’ll be interested to see if they are ready.
L’ville mounted an impressive comeback and eventual beat-down of SYR on Wed. I was wondering if they were going to man-up or fold under the combined pressure of a difficult schedule and the disappointment of no post-season play. This week, they’ve got two more chances to answer that question. Note that the game @Pitt should mean a lot more to Pitt than to L’ville…but I wouldn’t bet much more than a beer (American at that) on Pitt.
I highlighted FSU/Duke because of the importance to FSU. If the game were in Tallahassee, then it might be really interesting. I’m pulling for FSU, but not betting on them.
Wed’s game against State is UNC’s last regular season game that isn’t against a probable NCAAT team. Anyone want to side with Lunardi on predicting a #1 seed for UNC?