(That photo never gets old)
The week we’re going to focus on the teams clustered on the NCAAT Bubble. If you missed last night’s game in Blacksburg, you missed a good one. There wasn’t much else on so I watched to see if I had to rewrite everything that assumed a VT loss. Oh well, that game perfectly explains why I wouldn’t consider betting on college sports in general and especially on a rivalry game.
Let’s set the stage for a bubble discussion with the RPI summary table:
RPI SUMMARY TABLE
Good Week (2-0) –ND, Pitt, Duke
Bad Week (0-2) Clemson, NCSU, BC
Duke extended their winning streak to five games with a surprisingly close win over Clemson at home.
ND managed to pull out of their tail spin with a good week at home:
So with ND’s recovery (and their weak schedule down the stretch), the top six ACC teams in the RPI are nearly a lock for the NCAAT. These teams are not too interesting to talk about because all that’s left for them is to battle for a two-round bye in the ACCT and for seeding in the NCAAT. On top of that, the Selection Committee’s preliminary announcement of tournament seeds eliminated any need for further discussion this week by putting five of these six teams in seeds 2-4.
However, those teams mired in the Messy Middle are much more interesting to talk about because there’s a lot more at stake than just NCAAT seeding. They’re fighting for a NCAAT bid and most are fighting to move out of ACCT Tuesday. So I’m going to break down the middle of the conference right after our trend graphs:
RPI TREND GRAPHS
Based on RPI rankings, Clemson and Pitt are still on the bubble. But at 3-9 in ACC play, they both have really big holes to climb out of. If they start to make some progress on climbing out, then we can always talk about them later. But for now, we have enough to go through with the five teams that can at least see the good side of the bubble.
Here is a busy table that summarizes some key stats for clearing the bubble along with their remaining schedules.
Syracuse stumbled on the road at Pitt to end their five-game winning streak. They have some impressive wins at home (FSU, UVA) to go along with a number of bad losses at home and on the road. They probably have enough good wins to get an at-large bid. Now they just need wins of any kind to improve their RPI ranking (preferably into the 50’s). Bad news: they have one of the harder remaining schedules among this group of five. Good news, they have three of their five games at home where they’ve proven to be tough throughout ACC play. (IN for now)
It’s not clear if GT should be near the top of this table with their quality wins or near the bottom based on their RPI ranking. In the end, I put them next to SYR, because they share the same bottom line…GT needs a lot of wins to improve their RPI ranking, which is currently worse than any team to ever receive an at-large bid. Good news: three Top 25 wins should carry a lot of weight. Bad news: Three of their four toughest remaining games are on the road. (OUT for now)
For today, Miami is probably on the right side of the bubble. But they could use some more good wins before they will be comfortably in. Bad news – they have one of the tougher schedules among these five. More bad news – they only have one game left at home to get another good win before the ACCT. So they’re IN for now, but have some serious obstacles between today and Selection Sunday.
VT got their second big win at home last night in double OT against UVA. I like the way that their schedule lays out for the remainder of the regular season: 3 games at home, two road games against the bottom of the conference, and a tough road game at L’ville. Five wins down the stretch is not beyond believability. (IN for now)
I’ve spent way more time talking about WF this year than any time dating back to low-blow Chris Paul. Their RPI is good, their top wins are thin (Miami ranked at #49), and their conference record is precariously close to a Tuesday start in ACCT. It’s certainly not impossible for the Deacs to clear the bubble, but they have an uphill road to climb. (OUT for now)
Couple of wrap-up notes on the Bubble teams:
Both Tech’s had a horrible OOC schedule. So I’m concerned about their chances given the historical decisions made on bubble teams with really bad OOC schedules. If VT can keep their RPI in the 30’s, then they’re probably safe. GT has a lot of ground to make up, but history shows that a big upset in the ACCT carries a lot of weight with the Selection Committee.
At least two of these teams will play on Tuesday in the ACCT. I normally discount Wed ACCT games as meaning much for a bubble team. But this year, the top of the conference and the Messy Middle are both larger than we normally see. We’ll have to see exactly who ends up where, but there’s a chance that a win on ACCT Wednesday could count as a good win this year.
Last night’s VT win over UVA jumbled up both the Tue/Wed split as well as the Wed/Thurs split. Just like last year, the 8/9 game could have more at stake than most years.
It doesn’t get much tighter than this:
- 1 game separating the top five teams.
- 1 game difference between second and seventh place
- 8th – 11th place fighting for a .500 conference record.
UPCOMING ACC SCHEDULE
Unless you have a secondary team, there is not a lot of must see TV.
- UVA has a tough week upcoming: at UNC and then home against Duke.
- If SYR continues to play well at home, then their game on Monday night against L’ville could be good.
If you’re interested in the bubble wars, there are a few more to watch:
- GT at Miami
- SYR at GT
Well, that’s about all I could come up with for now. What’s caught your attention this week?