The photo came from N&O last week with no specific photographer being credited. Obviously I didn’t look for a photo from Sunday’s game.
After the soul-sapping game on Sunday, I’m not in the mood to dream up a snappy introduction to the weekly conference overview. So let’s jump in straight to the good stuff (ie RPI Rankings):
I forgot to point out last week, that I’ll be using the ESPN RPI rankings all season because they give the option to break down the rankings by conference. The conference format also includes the columns on SOS and the records versus 1-25, 26-50, and 51-100. So ESPN makes it easy on a blogger, but if there is a significant disagreement between CBS and ESPN (like NCSU’s ranking today), I would go with CBS. At the end of the day, the differences between the various sites won’t have any significant effect on my conclusions.
If anyone cares, here is the link to the official NCAA RPI rankings. Unfortunately, they aren’t updated frequently enough to be of any real value to me.
I highlighted the overall SOS for NCSU and WF to illustrate how SOS can hide issues in the W/L record early in the year. However, this effect doesn’t hold for the season as a whole. In other words, you cannot schedule your way into the NCAAT…good wins are eventually required. As has been pointed out in many forum comments, State has been crushed by every decent team other than VT in Raleigh and thus is not in any of the brackets that are being published. State, WF, and Pitt will need some good wins if they are going to remain “IN”.
While you can’t schedule yourself into the NCAAT, you can schedule yourself into the NIT. Both VT and Miami’s OOC SOS is trending in the wrong direction. You do not want to go into Selection Sunday with a “Bubble” label and an OOC SOS of around 300. That exact scenario has ended poorly for a number of teams over the years.
It’s really too early in the season to be looking for trends, but we’ll do so anyway:
Both ND and FSU have started conference play with a 3-0 record. As a result ND has made a nice climb from the Bubble Zone to solidly “IN”. Comparing the two trend lines shows that it is much easier to move into the Top 25 than it is to continue moving up after you get there. I’m not a Leonard Hamilton fan, so I’m always a little surprised when FSU does well. But clearly FSU and ND have started out conference play red hot.
Pitt, Clemson, and State have started ACC play at 1-2 and WF has stumbled to a 1-3 record. You wouldn’t really expect that just from looking at how their RPI ranking has tracked. Sometimes people erroneously use something like this as an example of how poor the RPI ranking system is. In fact, the RPI rankings throughout the month of January can appear scrambled just like the conference standings. But both rankings will work themselves out as the season unfolds.
Miami managed to avoid the snow up the east coast by having an off day this past weekend. In addition to the benefits of remaining in sunny South Florida, they also got a nice bump in RPI ranking without even playing a game. A bunch of teams in the 60’s must have lost this past weekend.
It’s a little early to spend much time looking at conference standings, but a comment from BOTB on last week’s entry pointed out something that was worth digging into.
Only Louisville started the season at 0-2 (or worse) and they got a win in their third game. If you combine the too early conference results with the RPI rankings, it would be easy to conclude that this year will be the most balanced ACC season in years. It’s way too early to be making any statements that broad just now, but things are certainly trending in that direction.
By my hand count, there have been 23 conference games so far with only 6 road wins. In addition, there have been a number of notable upsets by home underdogs. (Note that what constitutes an upset early in the year may not look like one once we get more results.)
Not only did these home ‘dogs win, they crushed their opponent. All of this supports the conclusions about overall balance in the conference. It would be foolish to make wild claims about the future with such a paltry amount of data, but it’s not too early to point out how important it is going to be to win at home.
UPCOMING ACC SCHEDULE
Focusing for a moment on NC State, the next two weeks could provide a lot of information about just how good/bad this team is going to be:
A team that was going to comfortably make the NCAAT would clean up the next two weeks. Anything less would also provide valuable information, just not the kind that we want to see. (Note that a poor showing over the next two weeks would likely provide more predictive information than a good showing.) Now on to the ACC as a whole:
Starting Tuesday, there is ACC basketball on 9 of the next 10 nights (assuming no weather-related delays).