ACC Basketball – Midseason Report

Photo from News & Observer

The ACC season seems like it’s flown by and we’ve already reached the half-way point. So this entry will be longer than normal (consider yourself warned) and I’ll go over the things that interest me and/or have caught my eye.

Of course, the first thing that drew my attention was the beat down VT administered to UNC in B’burg on Monday night. But by the weekend, the ACC home court advantage mostly disappeared with VT, State, UVa, Syracuse, and Clemson all winning on the road. Of course, some of the road wins were more impressive than others, but I was certainly happy with the results.

I’m going to juggle the order of the tables in this week’s entry compared to my normal format. I’ll start with the trend graphs to see what effect last week’s games had on the RPI Rankings, and then we’ll switch gears a little to discuss what we’ve learned over the first half of the conference schedule.

 

RPI TREND GRAPHS

Duke’s home loss to UVA finally dropped them out of the #1 RPI ranking (1-1 for week). I was surprised that the road losses to BC and State hadn’t affected their ranking…but you can only lose so many until the rankings will drop.

UVa went 2-0 with a home win over Clemson and then the big win in Durham. That’s a good week by any measure and was good enough to move them into the #1 RPI ranking.

UNC went 0-2 and has a very noticeable drop in their ranking. [Insert line about world’s smallest fiddle.]

Clemson had a horrible game in C’ville followed by a close win in Atlanta. Not a great week, but good enough to hold steady in the rankings.

L’ville’s week wasn’t quite as bad as it looks. They did lose to UM on the road mid-week and the home win over WF didn’t turn out to help any. Miami’s week was up and down with a home win over L’ville and a road loss to FSU.

The Cuse had a much needed 2-0 week to make a nice climb in the rankings. But wins over BC and Pitt aren’t exactly what you would call awe-inspiring.

FSU didn’t have a mid-week break, but the home win over GT didn’t move their ranking. They did get a nice bump with their OT win at home over Miami.

State’s 2-0 week moved them towards the good side of the bubble…but not yet out of the woods. I have a lot more to say about State a little later.

I guess VT used my pessimism last week to motivate them and have a great week (2-0). That was two big steps in the right direction, but they have a lot further to go.

ND had their break with no mid-week game, but still had three starters out for the Sat loss to VT. That extends their losing streak to five straight and they need to right the ship soon.

BC went 0-1 with a mid-week loss on the road to ‘Cuse and then had the weekend off. They also need to pick up the pace if they are going to make the postseason.

 

CONFERENCE SOS

I have long contended that the unbalanced conference schedules have a direct impact on the conference standings. If you look at it logically, the teams at the top of the conference are going to make the NCAAT no matter their conference schedule….and there is not going to be anything you can do with schedules to help the bottom of the conference. But schedule could be crucial for the Bubble Teams. So I look for instances where the unbalanced schedules likely helped or hurt some particular team.

I thought about looking at conference SOS using the RPI rankings at the start of conference play. I decided to wait and give the teams a little more time to try and separate the contenders from the pretenders. So using Sunday’s RPI rankings, here’s my attempt at a preliminary ranking of the conference schedules:

To determine where a game is played, read across the rows. For instance, Pitt plays UVa at home.

As I mentioned last week, VT clearly has the hardest conference schedule. What makes it even worse is that the second half of their conference schedule is noticeably harder than the first half that has left them sitting at 4-4. Seven of their 10 remaining games are against teams that are well on their way to the ACCT. The only positive that I can find is that four of those seven games are in B’burg. Surprisingly to me, teamrankings.com gives VT a greater than 50% chance of winning 6 of their last 10 games. As usual, time will tell.

UNC, GT, and State have very similar schedules. For my money, there’s not a lot of difference between them, but UNC’s is slightly harder than the other two.

Comparing Pitt to those three is very difficult. You can make an argument that their schedule ranks second to VT (which is the where I ended up putting them). But you could also make an argument that Pitt’s schedule ranks just behind UNC/GT/State since they only play one of the Top 10 teams twice. In the end, it’s Pitt and does anyone really care?

FSU and BC have great schedules for bubble teams. Few games against the top teams and they don’t double up on any of the bad teams at the bottom. In the end, if you can’t hold your own against the middle of the conference, then you’re really not good enough to play in the NCAAT anyway.

L’ville, WF, and Clemson have very similar schedules and rank just ahead of the next bunch (SYR, ND, and Duke) UVA clearly ranks behind those groups with Miami bringing up the rear.

If life doesn’t interrupt, I’ll do an entry just on conference SOS before the ACCT starts. For now, just keep these schedule rankings in mind as we go through the conference.

 

RPI SUMMARY TABLE

I’m going to put up several more tables and then put up some observations after that. If you want to check my comments versus the raw data, you should open a second window so that you can refer back to these tables as you read my blathering.

 

ACC STANDINGS


I’m pretty sure that this is State’s first winning ACC record over the last three seasons.

 

POMEROY RANKINGS

These values are from kenpom.com on Sunday afternoon. I’ve sorted the ACC by offensive and defensive ranking.

I found it interesting that UVa is top of the conference in defense and about the middle in offense. Duke is the opposite with a great offense and “average” defense. We saw Saturday in Durham which phase of the game was more important.

 

CONFERNCE DISCUSSION

Virginia plays Clemson, UNC, and Duke once…and have already won all three games. So not only does UVa have an overall easy schedule, the second-half of their season is easier than the first half. I’ve been surprised before, but I just don’t see anyone catching UVA.

State’s done with Duke and everyone knows about their offense and less-than-impressing defense. Palm and Bilas had both UVa and Duke as a #1 seeds last week. Duke’s already lost three conference games and still has UNC twice. A sweep of UNC and then we can talk about a #1 seed for Duke.

All of L’ville’s losses have come to RPI Top 20 teams, but they only have one Top 50 win (@ FSU). I guess they’re not as bad as the 30 pt loss to UK would suggest, but I’m not convinced that they’re really a Top 20 team. Their defense ranks slightly ahead of Miami which makes me happy that they’re coming to Raleigh while wishing State’s games against the top defenses were already over.

Clemson lost their second leading scorer in the game against ND. So basically, we know next to nothing about the Clemson team that we’ll see the rest of the year.

I don’t have something to share on every team and Syracuse would be one of those except that I stumbled across a really interesting article last week. Five different reporters chime in on whether or not they think that the Orange is going to make the NCAAT or not. I was surprised that several different people didn’t think that they would. Since they usually play one of the easiest conference schedules and played a good OOC schedule (as opposed to last year), I figured that they were a lock.

But all of these discussions about Syracuse are simply coming too soon. Using Sunday’s ESPN numbers, here’s a comparison of State’s first five games, with Syracuse’s last five.

State’s First Five Games

Syracuse’s Last Five Games

 

State’s ACC schedule ranked as the #1 hardest conference schedule after the first five games. Syracuse’s schedule is not quite as hard, but it certainly isn’t easy (and this stretch is clearly Syracuse’s toughest). So Syracuse can play their way out of the NCAAT before the conference schedule concludes. But you won’t be able to say for sure that they are in until this stretch of games is concluded.

 

NC STATE

The nice part about being a pessimist is that you are constantly being either proven right or pleasantly surprised.

George Will

To say that I’m pleasantly surprised with State’s season to date is an understatement. I’m not nearly as confident of an NCAAT bid as some, but it is at least a possibility that’s worth discussing. But I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t start with the negative.

OOC Schedule

If State had just played a reasonable OOC schedule, their RPI would be in the Top 40 and they would be on every bracket that is being put together. But they played one of the worst OOC schedules imaginable and have created a hole that they will have to climb out of. In the past, we’ve seen weak OOC schedules put bubble teams into the NIT at least two different ways:

  1. Punitive

    A number of times we’ve seen teams with RPI’s in the bubble zone, some good wins, and a horrible OOC schedule end up in the NIT. It’s happened to VT with Greenburg several times, Penn St, and even ASU once with Sendek.

     

  2. Let nature take its course.

    Last year Syracuse had a horrible OOC schedule, a number of bad losses and six Top 50 wins, with three of those coming against the Top 25. But their OOC schedule (coupled with a weak conference schedule) pushed their RPI into the 80’s and off to the NIT they went.

    Here’s a table from last year comparing the First Four with the NIT #1 seeds.

If you look at the RPI summary table, FSU’s numbers show that if you’re going to play a miserable OOC schedule, then you have to win. FSU’s overall SOS is similar to State’s but they have fewer losses and a much better RPI ranking.

There is still plenty of time for State to make the NCAAT. But if you think that the issues from the past don’t apply to State, then I really don’t know what to say.

Conference Schedule

Here’s State’s conference schedule broken down into halves and sorted based on opponent’s RPI (From ESPN on Sunday).

The obvious conclusion is that State’s second half of the ACC schedule is a little easier and they have one more home game. So the job’s not done, but there’s reason for hope.

How much is left to do?

With State’s big wins, they would be a lock with a winning conference record and a Top 50 RPI rank. But I’ve read some people projecting an NCAAT bid with a 9-9 conference record. I’m glad that people recognize the dangers with a losing conference record. But some people need to hone their math skills a little.

Using the more accurate RPI from CBS and realtimerpi.com, State’s RPI ranking is 63 on Monday morning. Just for reference, that ranking would be among the worst to ever receive an at-large bid. So State needs to improve the ranking quite a bit before they could be considered a “lock”.

A 9-9 conference record would mean that State finishes the second half of the conference schedule at 4-5. That would mean that State’s overall winning percentage will go down. This makes it likely/possible that State’s actual RPI would go down. Movement in the RPI ranking is relative to those teams around you, but it’s not likely that State’s ranking would improve much (or at all) if its actual RPI goes down.

Basically State needs to win more than those teams that are currently above it in the RPI rankings. It just doesn’t seem likely that going 4-5 down the stretch is going to be good enough. My guess is that 5-4 might not be good enough for a lock, but will be certainly be good enough for serious consideration.

 

BRACKETMATRIX.COM

If you’re really into bracketology then you need to check this site out. It tabulates and reports the results of 90+ brackets that are published on the ‘Net. So if you need more than Lunardi and/or Palm, then this is your site.

One word of warning…every bracket isn’t updated every day. So if you’re looking at someone moving in or moving out, then make sure you are concentrating on brackets that have been updated.

PS: On Saturday, State was listed on two brackets. On Sunday evening, they were listed on 16 brackets.

 

UPCOMING ACC SCHEDULE


I hate road games before UNC/Duke or after a win over the Blues….perfect trap game. If last week’s mid-week game had been anyone besides Pitt, I don’t know if State could have pulled that game out. I’m glad that State has their break this week to get over the UNC win and get ready for the Irish on Saturday.

With 12 of 15 teams having some chance at the NCAAT, it seems like there should be more games of interest than have shown up recently. But this looks like a good week with a number of interesting games.

About VaWolf82

Engineer living in Central Va. and senior curmudgeon amongst SFN authors One wife, two kids, one dog, four vehicles on insurance, and four phones on cell plan...looking forward to empty nest status. Graduated 1982

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This topic contains 32 replies, has 14 voices, and was last updated by  VaWolf82 7 months, 2 weeks ago.

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  • #129826

    VaWolf82
    Keymaster

    The ACC season seems like it’s flown by and we’ve already reached the half-way point. So this entry will be longer than normal….
    [See the full post at: ACC Basketball – Midseason Report]

    #129827

    VaWolf82
    Keymaster

    Timely article from N&O

    Here’s what respected NCAA bracket projector Jerry Palm of CBS Sports wrote about Kansas State this week while excluding the Wildcats from his bracket:

    “The Wildcats have one of the 20 worst non-conference schedules in Division I. Teams get left out almost every season primarily because of a putrid non-conference slate. On top of that, KSU lost one of those games, at home to Tulsa, which is its only bad loss. Kansas State is going to have to do more than have a couple of home wins over competitive teams to make up for that. A lot more.”

    Remember, Kansas State has a better overall record, better RPI and a better record against the top two quadrants and a worse non-conference schedule than N.C. State.

    http://www.newsobserver.com/sports/college/acc/nc-state/state-now/article197134139.html#storylink=cpy

    #129829

    freshmanin83
    Participant

    Thanks again VaWolf. I look forward every week for your write up and you don’t disappoint.

    I think you are right about the need to take into account the out of conference schedule being weak. It is concerning, maybe needed for the coach to get his system in place, but now there is pressure on the Pack to win. I am ok with that. I want the Pack to win too. I understand the quadrants but I hope the committee also notices the high number of quality wins. To me beating the number 2 team in the country twice is more than just a quadrant one win. But what do I know?

    I will project into the future a little. What might be a reasonable number of wins in the last half of the conference schedule given that the first half was harder and one more home game in the 2nd half than in the 1st half. I think going 6-3 is not unreasonable. Yeah well what about NC State $#%@ (stuff). I would say that some of that has already happened and we are still 5-4 through the toughest part of the ACC schedule.

    Are we there yet. Of course not. I feel the need to say it because of the past and sure Murphy and his law are still around sometimes in the form of zebra’s but I am cautiously optimistic based on performance.

    Of course the ACC tourney is still there too.

    #129830

    VaWolf82
    Keymaster

    Of course the ACC tourney is still there too.

    With the staggered start, it’s hard to blatantly put out a number of ACCT wins needed to clear the Bubble. I look at it like this:

    Tuesday wins are virtually worthless.
    Wed wins might be noteworthy, but most aren’t. (The 8-9 game winner probably beat another Bubble Team.)
    Thurs wins will always be valuable.

    I prefer to wait until Sunday before the ACCT starts to project number of tourney wins required for the Bubble teams.

    #129831

    freshmanin83
    Participant

    I agree with you about waiting for the tourney. Still too much basketball between now and then.

    #129832

    SmaptyWolf
    Participant

    Awesome write-up as always!

    Will be interesting to see how much the NCAA’s new “quadrant system” will affect the usual RPI assumptions.

    #129833

    rthomas44
    Participant

    Winning will answer all the questions. Keatts is the man! This is a new era.

    #129834

    44rules
    Participant

    yes, boys, winning cures everything. I would feel comfortable if we went 6-3. That would also help knock some of the folks we beat down lower on the bubble. 5-4 I give us maybe a 40-60 chance of getting in. Yes, we have wins over 3 top 10 teams and 4 wins in quadrant 1, but that fun-filled quadrant 4 schedule of 7 games still drags us down.

    Still, I defy anybody to go back preseason and criticize Keatts for the scheduling, because without seeing it on the basketball court, we didn’t know then what we know now.

    I’m 100 percent on the Keatts’ bandwagon. But take that with a grain of salt – I was on the HWSNBN’d bandwagon, was excited when Lowe had a couple early wins, and thought Gott might eventually come to his senses about defense. So maybe we should wait and see.

    Communism is not love. Communism is a hammer which we use to crush the enemy. Mao Zedong

    #129835

    bill.onthebeach
    Participant

    OK… We have games with Notre Dame, VaTech, UN*, ‘Cuse, Wake, BC, FSU, GaTech, ‘DaVille left to play in February…

    I’m thinking Notre Dame, ‘Cuse, Wake, BC && GaTech are ‘should win’ games…
    and VaTech, UN*, FSU, && ‘DaVille are ‘too close to call’…

    Of the toss-ups… ALL are at home, except VaTech..

    Conservatively speaking…IF we can figure out how to win 5… we’re definitely in the bubble…
    6 puts us real close… Plus 1 win in the Tournament and we’re good…

    On the other hand… it’s entirely possible, which is not the same as likely, we could run the table…
    Just being able to think that says volumes…

    As, if not more, important than RPI type numbers is the “IC FACTOR”… 20-21 wins by Keatts and the Wolfpack plus ICE CREAM and we’re ALL dancing….

    America still loves it’s ICE CREAM and so do the NCAA TV guys…

    GO PACK!

    #NCSU-North Carolina's #1 FOOTBALL school!
    #129837

    freshmanin83
    Participant

    RPI likes Ice-cream too. Real Prime Ice-cream.

    Howling Cow Ice-cream get yours today.

    #129838

    Pack1997
    Participant

    Bill I agree with your assessment except for playing Wake in Winston. Thats a 50/50 game easily. Maybe BC too i havent seen them enough to speak how good they are, just know they are around us in RPI talk etc.

    #129842

    bill.onthebeach
    Participant

    OK… We have games with Notre Dame, VaTech, UN*, ‘Cuse, Wake, BC, FSU, GaTech, ‘DaVille left to play in February…

    ’97, et al…

    We play ’em in the above order…
    And we might want to consider the “MO” factor too…

    We’ve won 3 out 4 since playing the ‘hoos in C’ville…
    After ND that should be 4 out 5…

    And I said on the UN* Game Thread yesterday… “Pick two out of the next three and be happy…”
    ‘Cuse shouldn’t be any trouble although that game is up in the frozen North…

    Not too hard to see how we could be 7 or maybe 8 out of 9 since C’ville when we roll into Joel Feb 17th…

    My point here is “The more games we win, the easier it should be FOR THIS TEAM to win the next game…”
    The “MO” Factor…

    And the more “MO”, the “MO ICE CREAM” !!!

    GO PACK!

    #NCSU-North Carolina's #1 FOOTBALL school!
    #129843

    VaWolf82
    Keymaster

    Cuse shouldn’t be any trouble although that game is up in the frozen North…

    After watching State play against Pitt’s zone, I’m not looking forward to playing SYR.

    #129845

    BKwolf
    Participant

    Based on ESPN’s current RPI, remaining games by Quadrant:

    Q1
    @ VT
    UNC
    @Syracuse
    FSU
    UL

    Q2
    ND
    @Wake
    BC
    @GT

    Although ND and @GT could end up being Q3 by the end of the season as they are right on the cusp at the moment.

    #129846

    Texpack
    Participant

    We have a long way to go to get in the dance but at least it’s a distance that can be covered by car rather than by plane.

    #129851

    choppack1
    Participant

    VA Wolf – I don’t think 4 wins in our next 10 will get us in.

    I do think 5 will likely get us in, but as you pointed out, that’s not a sure thing.

    Theoretically, if we win 5 of our next 9 that would either mean sweeping our opponents at home or a one or two road wins and a home loss.

    I would think that would push our kenpom and RPI into the Top 50 zone.

    As you know, in Gott’s 3rd year, we went 9-9 in conference and won 2 in the ACC tournament to get our bid. The biggest difference between this team and a lot of Gott’s teams is that we already have some big wins (hoping they stay big.)

    #129858

    Tau837
    Participant

    I like realtimerpi better than ESPN. Here are the current ACC RPI rankings from that site, updated as of 9 pm PST tonight (so about 40 minutes ago):

    1 UVA
    4 Duke
    6 Clemson
    11 UNC
    17 Miami
    20 Louisville
    32 Syracuse
    33 FSU
    65 State
    72 BC
    73 VT
    76 ND
    125 Wake
    142 GT
    180 Pitt

    By those ratings, these are the remaining games for State by quadrant:

    1 – UNC, Louisville, @Syracuse, @VT
    2 – FSU, BC, @Wake
    3 – ND, @GT

    State’s current record by quadrant:

    1 – 4-4
    2 – 0-1
    3 – 4-2
    4 – 7-0

    So let’s say State wins 5 more games. Worst case is they win all 5 quad 2-3 games and lose all quad 1 games, meaning they would finish the regular season like this:

    1 – 4-8
    2 – 3-1
    3 – 6-2
    4 – 7-0

    I doubt that is enough to get in without ACC tournament success, and their first ACCT game would be a quad 2 or 3 game, so not sure 1 win would be enough. If they won the first game, the second game would be a quad 1 game, so winning 2 ACCT games would be enough. But that is a tough path.

    So I’m thinking 6 more regular season wins might actually be required, since that guarantees at least 1 more quad 1 win and also guarantees at least 1 more road win.

    7 more wins in any combination should make it a lock.

    #129859

    Tau837
    Participant

    By the way, when I posted in another thread yesterday, UNC-G RPI at realtimerpi was 85. Then they lost yesterday at #299 Chattanooga, and their RPI dropped to 109. I doubt they could drop all the way to a quad 4 loss, but it is within the realm of possibility if they drop a couple more like that.

    #129860

    wolfmanmat
    Participant

    The committee is looking at the quadrant system for Rpi, but you got to think that their are “barely” quadrant one/two wins and there are top tier quadrant 1 wins. This is why I don’t find the Kansas State argument really relevant for State. Kstate has 1 win versus a team currently ranked- Oklahoma. And they only beat 2 teams that were ranked when they beat them-Tcu and Oklahoma. State has 2 wins versus still top 10 teams and 4 wins versus teams still in top 25. We will see what happens rest of season but if we finish 10-8 then there’s a great chance we are dancing just based on teams we have to beat to get 5 more conference wins.

    #129865

    VaWolf82
    Keymaster

    I like realtimerpi better than ESPN.

    I used to read Palm (now at cbssports.com) when he ran his own RPI site. Assuming that he puts in as much work now as he did then, I trust his numbers. For an example, he talked about asking the NCAA questions when his numbers differed with their’s and making adjustments when necessary…and on occasion the NCAA adjusted theirs. I say all of that to say that CBS seems to agree with realtimerpi pretty closely which gives me confidence in both of their numbers.

    I use espn because they give me the RPI summary table for the entire conference. I used to create that table by copying the values from CBS which took a lot of time. I plan on using the numbers from CBS when I attempt a more detailed discussion on the ACC bubble teams….not so much for the RPI ranking of the team in question, but rather for the ranking of their wins.

    If life will get off of me a little, I hope to do an entry on the new quadrant layout from the NCAA. If anyone hasn’t heard about it, Top 25, Top 50, Top 100 wins, etc are being replaced by quadrants. The standard for a given quadrant win is less for neutral and away games, thus giving more value to road/neutral wins.

    Quadrant 1: Home 1-30; Neutral 1-50; Away 1-75
    Quadrant 2: Home 31-75; Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135
    Quadrant 3: Home 76-160; Neutral 101-200; Away 136-240
    Quadrant 4: Home 161-plus; Neutral 201-plus; Away 241-plus.

    As far as I can tell, anyone writing articles about the NCAA is going to use the quadrants for the selection process is just guessing. One of the things to look for this year is a selection that you wouldn’t have made under the old system.

    The professors behind The Dance Card haven’t written anything so far this year. I’m interested to see what they are going to do with what is claimed to be a new selection process.

    #129867

    MrPlywood
    Participant

    Palm and Lunardi both have State in the last four.

    #129868

    VaWolf82
    Keymaster

    Kstate has 1 win versus a team currently ranked- Oklahoma. And they only beat 2 teams that were ranked when they beat them-Tcu and Oklahoma.

    AP rankings have no effect on the selection process and neither does a “old” rank (AP or RPI) that an opponent had when the game was played. The Selection Committee is only going to look at the current info when the selection process starts. So if Clemson tanks because of recent injuries…or if ND continues to tank, their final ranking is what the committee will use.

    #129869

    ryebread
    Participant

    I think it is a bit too early to say how many wins that NC State needs to get in. The value of each win changes each week based on what our opponents do, so I think those trying to say an absolute number of wins will get us in may be sorely disappointed. It’s a point in time view and it will be until Selection Sunday, much as VaWolf sets it out.

    Circle the Syracuse game. Our zone offense has been ugly, and they’re typically quite tough at home. FSU could be very tough as well given their size. UNC will be out for revenge. Long story short, there is a lot of work left to be done.

    #129870

    44rules
    Participant

    I’ll take that challenge, Rye. If we win 6 of 10 I bet we’re in, regardless of ACC Tourney results. (Although I could see a scenario where an ACC team falls into Quad 4, wins on Tuesday and then beats us. That might put a crimp into my thoughts.) Five is on the fence.

    Communism is not love. Communism is a hammer which we use to crush the enemy. Mao Zedong

    #129871

    bill.onthebeach
    Participant

    Circle the Syracuse game. Our zone offense has been ugly, and they’re typically quite tough at home. FSU could be very tough as well given their size. UNC will be out for revenge. Long story short, there is a lot of work left to be done.

    We all know the bottom line here is…

    “There are NO easy games on the reminder of our schedule.”

    That said, I’m optimistic…

    GO PACK!

    #NCSU-North Carolina's #1 FOOTBALL school!
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