This was sort of a strange weekend for ACC basketball:
- No matchups between teams fighting for a two-round bye.
- Saturday had five games with the visiting team favored in each game. (Miami was the only upset winner.)
But some things remained the same:
- Clemson suffers yet another close loss.
- Sunday had two games where bubble teams were playing for a big road win and neither delivered.
So with one week left in the regular season, this is where everyone currently stands:
RPI SUMMARY TABLE
Good Week (2-0) – UNC, Miami, FSU, VT
Bad Week (0-2) –Duke, Clemson, GT, BC, Pitt
In most years, the top 50 wins by SYR, Clemson, GT, and even Pitt would be good enough to be positioned on the good side of the bubble. But things aren’t exactly normal this year. Every ACC team that’s currently on the bubble (or close to it) has an enormously large number of losses. (We’ll explore this last observation closer next week. But for now we can state the obvious….that ain’t good.)
I don’t know what the Selection Committee thinks about a losing record against teams ranked 51-100, but it certainly isn’t a good thing.
In the 12 team ACC, VT once had a good enough conference record to get a first round bye, won their first game in the ACCT, and still didn’t get an at-large bid. Back then I received some flak for saying that VT needed a big win in the ACCT….but they did and they didn’t get it. So we saw another Greenburg trip to the NIT. I say all of that as proof that you need Top 50 wins and WF is coming up shy on that end. State with Sendek showed that you don’t need many good wins, but WF is falling short of even that meager standard.
RPI TREND GRAPHS
In the past, I’ve changed the start date of the graph to reduce clutter. But this year, the jumbled mess shows just how little numerical difference there are between the top teams. Even with the clutter, you can still see Duke stumble and recover. You can see ND climb, fall, and then rebound as well as UVA’s recent struggles.
It’s been over a month since FSU beat someone of significance (L’ville on 1/21) so they’ve slipped a little too.
It’s always nice to see teams climb from the muddled middle into the under 40 club. Hopefully VT and UM can stay there.
I’m surprised at how long it took WF to fall into the Bubble Graph, but here they are. The news doesn’t get any better for the remaining teams on the Bubble Graph. Clemson and Pitt are slowly sliding into obscurity. After a remarkable turnaround, both SYR and GT are stumbling down the stretch. So here’s the summary table with last week’s results added to the mix:
Miami is currently riding a four-game winning streak and had an outstanding week with wins @UVA and Duke at home. You would tend to think that they should have a NCAAT bid locked up. But Miami finishes on the road against VT and FSU and they aren’t going to be favored in either game. If you start tossing around worst-case scenarios, I wouldn’t bet a paycheck that Miami could lose three straight and still get a bid. But 1-1 next week should guarantee their spot in the NCAAT.
VT is comfortably in for now. Last week I forgot to mention that VT lost its leading rebounder (Chris Clarke) in the win against UVa. That’s on top of losing a forward and reserve center earlier in the season. They’re down to a seven-man rotation plus a walk-on giving a few minutes here and there. Since losing Clarke, they are 3-1. That probably sounds a little more impressive that it actually is since the wins were against Pitt, Clemson, and BC. But they played a good game in their loss at L’ville even with their personnel losses. VT finishes at home against Miami and WF so you have to like their chances at a NCAAT bid.
SYR had a nice five-game winning streak to get into the Bubble conversation (and actually pass GT in the Trend Graph). But since then they’ve gone 1-4 to fall back to the very back edge of the Bubble Line. Their only win in the last five was over Duke, which was good but they needed more out of the last three weeks. With only one game this week (home against GT), SYR is also going to need something noteworthy out of the ACCT to make the NCAAT.
WF only played one game last week (win over Pitt) and the story has pretty much stayed the same all year…tough schedule, no real embarrassing losses (depending on how you judge getting swept by Clemson), and not enough big wins. They’re definitely not IN today, but a couple of big wins over the next two weeks would change that. They’re going to have some chances to get those big wins, so it’s really up to WF to figure out which post-season tournament they’re going to play in.
At the halfway point of the ACC season, I showcased GT’s big turnaround and pointed out that their big wins were all at home. Since then, GT has gone 0-4 on the road (losing at Clemson, WF, Miami, and ND) along with a home loss to State. (ie NOT TOO GOOD). With games against Pitt and SYR this week, they’re going to need something out of the ACCT to make the NCAAT.
Both GT and SYR have six losses to teams that probably won’t be in the NCAAT. I don’t know where the magic line is, but the Selection Committee chairman has trotted that stat out in the past when explaining why some team was left out.
The professors have finally started updating more frequently:
If you paid attention during my summary of The Dance Card and the RPI tables above, then you won’t be surprised to see that Miami has jumped above VT with a higher RPI Ranking and with one more Top 25 win than VT.
Syracuse and WF are still hanging around with a realistic shot if they can get some upsets down the stretch. Recent stumbles have probably moved GT and Clemson too far back for a realistic shot. If all goes well, we’ll take one more look at the bubble teams before the ACCT starts next week.
CURRENT ACC STANDINGS
Just as I was beginning to hope that L’ville could catch/pass UNC, UNC beats them in Chapel Hill. With the win over Pitt on Saturday, UNC is guaranteed at least a tie for the regular season title.
Here’s the summary table of the Top Six sorted by ACC standing:
Duke (probably) and UVA (almost definitely) have stumbled enough down the stretch to be headed for a Wed game in the ACCT. That game is probably not going to be as easy as past years.
With four games left between the Top Six, there’s still room for shuffling back and forth in the conference standings. The best case scenario for Duke would appear to be a tie for a spot straddling ACCT Tue/Wed and then hope for the best in the tie-breakers.
Unless something extraordinary happens, it looks like Tuesday’s teams are pretty much finalized too.
CONCLUSION OF REGULAR SEASON SCHEDULE
The regular season wraps up Saturday, March 4 giving everyone at least three days off before the ACCT starts in Brooklyn on Tuesday, March 7. Here are the remaining games:
I’ll be out of town on business next week, but hopefully I’ll still be able to take one last look at the Bubble before the ACCT starts.