A month from tomorrow, the ACC Tournament will tip off in Brooklyn. I’m curious how good/bad the attendance will be. But with 15 teams, it shouldn’t be hard to fill the 17,700 seat Barclay Center. I suspect that reasoning along with the desire to spread the ACC’s influence all the way up the East Coast sparked the ACC’s office to move the tournament to the far north. It will be interesting to see how the interest versus the expense balances out for ACC fans. Hopefully it will turn out better than staging the ACC football championship in Florida.
If you watched the State/Miami game, you might have heard Dan Bonner comment about the fact that the season was just past the halfway point and there was still time left for teams to improve their record. So let’s see who took advantage of the first week in the second half of the ACC regular season:
RPI SUMMARY TABLE
Good Week (2-0) Duke, UNC, WF, SYR, FSU
Bad Week (0-2) ND, Pitt, BC, NCSU, GT
Just after getting a ton of press here last week, GT stumbled hard on the road against Clemson and WF. But that’s typical of what we see in the Muddled Middle – big wins at home and a ton of struggles on the road.
ND was pretending to be a conference leader, but they’re riding a four-game losing streak (and have lost 5 of their last 6). That’s NOOOOT TOOO GOOOOD.
SYR had a very good week with a home win against UVA and the road win in Raleigh. This week is the first time this year that they’ve been up in the Bubble zone. (Note that they only have one road win in the ACC this year.)
I’ve given WF a hard time all year long. They still don’t have a top-50 win, but 2-0 last week and an overall ACC record of 5-6 is good enough to be IN (at least for now). As I mentioned last week, they don’t have many chances for a noteworthy home win. They have L’ville at home on 3/1 and that’s their only chance in Winston for something to catch the NCAAT Selection Committee’s attention. They have several more chances on the road at Duke, ND, and VT. A Top 50 win is not an absolute, absolute requirement. But you don’t need very many fingers to count all of the at-large bids extended without one.
RPI TREND GRAPHS
Clemson keeps bouncing back and forth between our two graphs. So they’re on both this week.
VT only played one game last week (loss at UVA) and are riding the line between our graphs at #40. I put them in the Bubble zone because of their horrid OOC SOS; currently ranked 300+.
As mentioned earlier, GT struggled last week on the road and were actually passed by SYR. Let’s look a little closer at both teams.
The two teams both went into the ACC schedule in horrible shape. GT started strong out of the gate with a home win against UNC. SYR dug the hole a little deeper by losing at BC. Neither team has an OOC schedule to brag about; but GT’s is much worse (#278 vs #171). Add in GT’s tougher ACC schedule to date and the net result is that SYR needed 7 wins to pass GT with their five wins.
If either team can get an at-large bid, they would set a record for the biggest recovery since I’ve been tracking RPI. Note that neither team is tearing up the road schedule. GT has 4 remaining at home (3 on road) and SYR has four on the road; three at home (L’ville, Duke and GT). The GT/SYR game to end the regular season looks a lot more interesting now than it did five weeks ago.
THE DANCE CARD
I’m sure that many of you are quite familiar with The Dance Card. For those that are not, two college professors have been using statistical methods to analyze past at-large bids to the NCAAT to develop a mathematical technique to predict the bids for the current season. It’s important to note that the professors are focused solely on clearing the Bubble and not seeding the teams selected for the NCAAT.
At present, the professors are updating their rankings on a weekly basis. (Later on, they will update the standings on a daily basis.) For now, here are their standings based on games played thru 1/29/17. I’m assuming that they’ll update sometime on Monday. I’ll edit this and add their latest standings when they’re published (and when I can get to it).
I don’t trend the Dance Card from one week to the next because they only publish weekly for most of the season (not that I blame them for that). When they start publishing daily, interested fans can get an instant update where as I am only doing weekly summaries. Plus I’m happy with letting the professors do their own math and just view their results.
When we get an update, it will be interesting to see how the last four ACC teams in move as well as SYR.
I wouldn’t have bet a plug nickel after the first game of the year of SYR ever passing Duke in the ACC Standings. I guess that’s why they play the games.
There are four teams within a game of each other in the Wed/Thurs split. There’s only a half-game between the four teams closest to the Tue/Wed split. So there are still lots on the line for most of the conference.
I couldn’t decide the best place to talk about Clemson, but here’s where it ended up. Mired in the middle of the Tuesday group at 3-7 in conference, you wouldn’t think that there would be much to talk about. But their conference ranking doesn’t match their RPI ranking of 45; so the discrepancy seemed worth discussing. Let’s start by summarizing their Top 100 wins and all of their losses:
(Rankings from CBS because I like their format) (Note that there are frequently differences in RPI Rankings between ESPN and CBS.)
There’s obviously no guarantee that Clemson’s wins will stay where they are. But when you look at three Top-50 wins and an RPI ranking of #45, I would normally conclude they’re awfully close to having an at-large bid sewn up before the ACCT. But the Selection Committee’s past actions make it clear that they don’t like teams with losing conference records. FSU was left out one year with an RPI Ranking of something like 42 and a 7-9 conference record. What FSU lacked that year over several other ACC teams with a 7-9 record (including State in 2005) was an impressive win in the ACC tournament.
Logically you could argue that this type of decision isn’t reasonable. The Selection Committee has made it plain that they want teams to play at least a reasonably difficult schedule and beat top teams (both of which Clemson has done) to prove that you are good enough for the NCAAT. Why should it matter if those big wins are OOC or during the conference season or conference tournament?
I don’t have a good answer for my own question, but I do remember what we’ve learned in the past. Depending on how Clemson finishes up, their position in the NCAAT or the NIT could break new ground for future bubble discussion. Here’s their remaining schedule:
(Rankings and schedule from ESPN)
An 8-10 record is doable. Anything less and Clemson’s chances at the NCAAT will start to get dicey at best.
UPCOMING ACC SCHEDULE
Louisville gets consecutive Monday night games. I wonder who they pissed off?
If you’re wondering about why I didn’t talk about State this week, go back and read my conclusion on State towards the bottom of last week’s entry. State’s OOC SOS has tumbled from being in Top 100 down to nearly 200 today….not that it really makes any difference. I guess I was too distracted by the losing to focus on SOS over the last few weeks.