Friday, December 26, 2014

State of the ACC

This is part of a series of posts going up on December 26.  Let's look back at everyone's performance in the non-conference schedule and take inventory on where everyone is at.

In the ACC, we have the haves (4 teams), the have-nots (about 5 teams), and a big 'ol mess in the middle.  Let's deal with the top first, because I see 4 teams with legitimate 1 seed hopes.

Duke (10-0) won at Wisky, and has a slew of neutral site wins (UConn, Temple, Stanford, Michigan St) that look good right now.  The neutral site wins are a good touch for a team that usually doesn't hit the road in conference play.  They're a pretty clear #2 resume in the country right now.

Virginia (11-0) has a really neat-looking road sweep at Maryland and VCU, and some depth (GWU, Harvard) as well.  Top 50 non-con SoS.

North Carolina (8-3) and Louisville (11-0) are the drafters.  UNC has a top 10 non-con SoS which will save them from a couple marginal losses (N-Butler and Iowa).  N-Ohio St is a good win but N-UCLA and N-Florida are deteriorating.  Louisville's schedule is ok, and Ohio St works as a signature win, but there's not a lot of depth behind it (N-Minnesota and N-Indiana), so they'll have to rely on high-end wins to boost the resume this year.

The middle of this conference is a mess.  We do know 5 teams that probably don't have a chance to survive this season.  Clemson (7-4) absorbed 3 dubious losses (like Winthrop at home) that offset a pair of nice wins (N-LSU and Arkansas).  Wake Forest (6-6) has one bad loss and nothing that you could even pretend is a signature win.  Boston College (6-4) actually beat Providence and just has one unreasonable loss (USC), but I'm dismissing them.  Florida St (7-5) actually doesn't have a bad loss but doesn't have any kind of a win either.  Virginia Tech (7-4) has bad losses and no good wins too.

Let's deal with the middle now.  Syracuse (7-4) is the team that wasn't supposed to be in here.  A decent SoS, a win of N-Iowa, and no road wins.  The key is absorbing what now looks like a catastrophic loss at Michigan, and losing swing games to N-Cal and St John's.  Again, not a lot of depth in the ACC this year, so they'll need to rely on the big games to move up.

Notre Dame (12-1) is up to its old tricks.  One of the 10 easiest non-con schedules in the country.  Losing to N-Providence is fine, but their signature win over Michigan St is dissolving, and they haven't played a true road game yet.  The road games are especially key for them.  Pittsburgh (8-3) has a better SoS, but they're in the same general boat.  Reasonable losses (if you think N-Hawaii is reasonable), no good wins, and just one road game that they lost at Indiana.

Miami (9-3) started hot, but the win at Florida looks worse now.  Beating Illinois and losing N-Providence and Green Bay is fine, but the Eastern Kentucky loss at home probably pushes it over the edge to the bubble, while being saved for now by the solid SoS numbers.

North Carolina St (10-3) actually has a top-50 non-con SoS right now, and the resume is a bit light.  A couple of losses (Wofford, @Purdue) are okay but not great, and the wins (Boise probably the best) are okay but not great too.  Georgia Tech (8-3) has similar SoS numbers, but the losses (N-Marquette, USC Upstate) are more marginal and the wins (Georgia, N-Rhode Island) are similar.  Both are fringe-y.

The real question is how many of these middling teams behind the top 4 make it.  I see 5 teams with reasonable enough resumes to make a run, odds say 2 of them will make the run.  But that's only 6 teams for the conference.  I would say a 7th should make it, but I'm not sure how.

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