Last night might not turn the season around, but boy does it feel good for now. I was concerned that the team might give up after the WF debacle. But they clearly showed plenty of fight in coming back from a big deficit and then holding Duke off down the stretch. (I like that the game ended with a State steal, rather than a free throw or missed shot.) Hopefully there is enough time before their next game on Sunday against Louisville to celebrate and then get focused on what comes next.
RPI SUMMARY AND DISCUSSION
Data from ESPN. Does not include Duke/State game.
I’ve changed up the columns a little this week. I added a column for conference SOS and highlighted the bottom third, which includes State, Miami, and Syracuse. As we near the half-way point in the conference schedule, when you have a losing conference record against one of the easier conference schedules…then the future doesn’t look too good as the schedule difficulty ramps up. (More on State after the Trend Graphs.)
A good record against an easy schedule doesn’t necessarily prove anything about the teams in question. So we can’t penalize UVA and UNC for their easier schedules. It’s just something to keep in mind as the season unfolds and their schedule difficulty picks up.
FSU has earned a 6-1 ACC record against the toughest conference schedule in the nation to this point in the season. They’ve also played five of their seven ACC games at home. So, their remaining schedule is going to get a little easier. But starting this week, they’re going to playing on the road a lot. Since I’m not a Leonard Hamilton fan, I’m always curious to see if FSU can maintain whenever they start out hot.
The RPI math thinks more of ND’s ACC schedule difficulty than I do. Their only win worth discussing was over L’ville at home, but their only loss was at FSU.
Normally, RPI rankings of 38/50 would be good enough to put Pitt and Clemson in the Bubble category. But with only two conference wins between them, they’re going to have to improve a lot before they can even talk about the NIT.
Unless VT gets 10+ wins in conference play, it’s going to be difficult to place them solidly in the field with their stinker of an OOC schedule. (There is simply no excuse for an OOC SOS ranking near 300.) On the more positive side, VT went 2-0 against teams in the bottom half of the conference to get over 0.500 in conference play AND in the RPI Top-40. So they clearly deserve to be IN this week.
I was pretty tough on WF last week. They still don’t have a top-50 win, but they had a good week going 2-0 against teams in the bottom half. They’ve moved close enough to 0.500 in conference play to put them IN for now.
I quickly looked over both WF’s and VT’s remaining schedule. It’s not hard to envision a scenario where both teams could end the season at 0.500 in conference play without another Top-50 win. When you consider VT’s OOC SOS and WF having no Top-50 wins, that wouldn’t be a comfortable position for either team. Note that these two teams end the conference schedule in B’burg. So there’s a chance that their last game could be key in solidifying a NCAAT bid.
(Duke/State’s graph updated for last night’s game. All others are only through the weekend games.)
[RANT] I hate Monday night games. They seriously interfere with the flow of weekly blog updates by making it difficult to have the entry both up to date and timely. No matter when you post the entry, it will be outdated in less than 24 hours. [/RANT] Last night was State’s only Monday night game this year and I don’t care about how quickly the other team’s projections change. So as long as life doesn’t interfere, we’ll go back to shooting for Monday updates on the conference.
The open question is what to do with NC State and the various NCAAT groups in the weekly RPI table. I toyed around with updating the RPI table and classifying State on the Bubble based on their RPI. But then I remembered the BC, Miami, GT, and WF games….which means that there is a lot of conflicting data and the case can be argued either way.
I finally decided on a compromise of keeping the RPI table through last weekend’s game and updating Duke/State’s graphs to show the effect of a road win and a home loss. So far this season, we have seen two games that looked like State was an NCAAT team…VT and last night at Duke. So in the end, State has shown that they have a lot of potential. But they just haven’t done it frequently enough to be a serious contender for any bracket projections today. A losing conference record against the easy portion of their schedule doesn’t build confidence.
WF’s trend line looks good, but I’m just not a believer yet. However, they could quickly convert me if they could beat someone worth talking about.
Through a quirk of RPI math, Pitt moved back into the Top-40 while having the weekend off. But that little move won’t fool anyone and probably won’t last. If you go back up to the RPI Table, you’ll see that Pitt has Top-20 ranking in conference, OOC, and overall SOS. This would probably earn them some good thoughts from the NCAAT Selection Committee….but they’ve got to actually win a bunch of games first.
(Updated after Mon night game)
From the trend graphs, you would expect Louisville to show up on Thursday. But L’ville has played a tough schedule thus keeping their RPI elevated while the ACC losses mount. Losing @ND, @FSU, and to UVA aren’t horrible, but it does begin to define their position in the conference.
It looks like the teams at the top and the teams at the bottom are starting to build some separation. Maybe it’s just my sarcastic nature, but it looks like we might end up with about half of the conference battling for a spot on ACCT Tuesday.
UPCOMING ACC SCHEDULE
Here’s the upcoming ACC schedule for next week:
Not a lot of games that stand out to me as “must see”. But with over half the conference having losing records, it’s not unexpected. Here are some games of interest to me:
- UVA at ND and then at Villanova
- Duke at ND
FSU starts a 3-game road trip this week. All of the teams (GT, SYR, and Miami) are beatable, but now let’s see how FSU does away from home.
That’s about all I’ve got for now. Hopefully, I’ll get next week’s conference update posted before the Duke/ND game. But I included it in this week’s schedule just in case.