Photo from News & Observer
Well last week had a couple more big upsets by home ‘dogs and a few match-ups among teams at the top of the conference:
- GT over ND in Atlanta
- State over Clemson in Raleigh
Other games of interest:
Breaking through on the road, L’ville had a good week starting with a win over FSU in Tallahassee. Note that FSU’s leading scorer went down with a concussion in that loss and also missed Saturday’s game against Syracuse.
UNC pulled out a last-second win over ND in South Bend.
Clemson rebounded from the loss to State to beat Miami at home.
FSU and Syracuse entered Saturday’s game with conflicting indicators…both were in the RPI Top 50 while sitting at 1-3 in conference play. But even without Terrance Mann, FSU won at home in a see-saw, double OT affair that saw both teams build and then lose big leads.
So let’s move on to our big picture overview:
RPI SUMMARY TABLE
If you paid attention last week, you would have seen that State’s miserable OOC schedule was being somewhat off-set by the #2 conference SOS. I looked at the schedule for last week’s #1 team in conference SOS and fully expected State to take over the #1 spot this week. Since State’s first five conference games were all against teams in the RPI Top 50, that ranking is certainly well-earned.
As I’ve mentioned before, State’s first five games are likely the toughest stretch of its conference schedule. Things get a little easier between now and the halfway point of the ACC season (Note that “easier” does not equal “easy”).
Looking over the master conference schedule, I still expect State to end up much closer to the middle of the conference in schedule strength. In just a little bit, we’ll take a look at how the conference schedule has impacted State’s RPI Ranking.
ND’s 0-2 week moved them back into the Bubble territory. Syracuse also had an 0-2 week but didn’t fall back quite as far as ND.
SIDE NOTE: Someone in the comments last week pointed out that ESPN’s calcs are noticeably different than CBS and others. If I had to bet on one set of RPI calcs (other than the NCAA), I would pick CBS. For now, this difference is not a big deal. But as the season winds down, we’ll keep an eye on both calcs and if the differences are significant, then we’ll base our discussions on the numbers at cbssports.com.
So this looks like a good point to review the trend graphs.
RPI TREND GRAPHS
Duke, UVa, and UNC all had 2-0 weeks and are hanging out in the RPI Top 10. Note that once again we see that Clemson’s mid-week road loss didn’t kill their RPI ranking…though UNC’s better week essentially flip-flopped them with Clemson.
Considering Miami didn’t have a mid-week game and then lost on Saturday (road loss at Clemson), their rise into the RPI Top 20 is a little surprising.
Looking at the mid-week points for L’ville and FSU, we see the huge effect that road wins and home losses can have on RPI ranking. L’ville followed that game up with a home win for a 2-0 week and a nice bump in RPI Ranking. FSU’s home loss dropped them down into Bubble Territory and their home win brought them back to the edge of being “IN”.
I expect most people realize that RPI calculations have a home/away weighting factors where home losses hurt more and home wins don’t help as much. If not, FSU’s week serves as a pretty good illustration of how these weighting factors affect RPI ranking.
I complained last week that the Bubble trend graph was rather boring. I appreciate the ACC teams giving me a little more to talk about this week.
As mentioned earlier, ND’s 0-2 week dropped them into the Bubble Region. During Saturday’s game, the announcers said that the guard that left during the first half of the State game was expected back soon. Mike Brey may not say this to his team, but he has to be hoping for 9-9 in conference and getting Bonzie Colson back in time for some type of post-season run.
VT and BC are hanging out at the back side of the Bubble and were joined by State after the win over Clemson. Let’s take a closer look at State’s rise through the RPI rankings:
Like State, GT has had two upsets at home to go along with a miserable OOC schedule. I’m only going to discuss State’s 2018, but wanted to highlight GT’s hot streak to start ACC play.
Let’s back up and remind everyone of the factors that go into the RPI Calculation:
- Your winning percentage
- Your opponents’ winning percentage (with the games against you removed)
- Your opponents’ opponents’ winning percentage.
State is 2-3 since the start of ACC play so their overall winning percentage has dropped. Adding the #1 conference SOS to an awful OOC SOS obviously improved the second two factors. The above graph shows us the net effect on State’s (and GT’s) RPI ranking.
The key point I want to get across is the huge effect that the SOS increase has had on State’s RPI ranking. But the thing that is nearly impossible to illustrate is that State’s rise through the RPI rankings is relative to the teams ranked around them. It is far easier to move past teams ranked 100-150 than it is to move into the RPI Top 50 and higher.
A losing ACC record is only going to take State so far. So I expect everyone to be thrilled with State’s conference play so far. But don’t expect State’s RPI ranking to continue rising unless the ACC wins keep coming at a good pace…which means some road wins against teams in the bottom half of the conference.
Georgia Tech has a surprising 3-1 conference record but their schedule difficulty will pick up quite a bit from now until the halfway point of the conference schedule:
At the other end of the conference standings, Syracuse is doing much better in RPI rankings than ACC standings. Since it looks like Syracuse will once again be in the bottom third of ACC SOS, they have a decent chance of climbing out of the hole that they have been digging:
NEXT WEEK’S ACC SCHEDULE
I don’t ever remember a time when the ACC mid-week games didn’t include a game on Hump-Day…but that’s what we get this week.
Just like last week, State has a Thursday/Sunday schedule, but the other games on those nights will likely adversely impact my viewing region. Other than State’s games, here are the ones that look interesting:
- Duke at Miami
- L’ville at ND
- Clemson at UNC (is this the year?)
- ND @ Clemson (maybe?)
That’s it from me. What did you see?