The game tomorrow just got more important to me, as I looked at the schedules which VT and MD have. VT, in particular, seems to have an easy path if they beat us tomorrow. While they have MD -- its at home. Whereas we have Md and Virginia on the road. MD will be totally up for the game.
I don't follow this stuff as much as some others, but am curious as to how "the experts" compare the schedules, and share my concern that a win against VT is pretty critical to getting first in the ACC.
I'm no expert, but am willing to throw in my $.02...
Given that VaTech and MD have to play one another, and one team is guaranteed to lose that, that saddles one or the other with a 4th loss... I don't see VaTech winning the game at GaTech to close out the season. GaTech has been solid at home, beating all comers [including us, Wake, and Clemson], and VaTech [like most teams] has had problems on the road... Maryland has the most brutal stretch run of the three teams, with us and Clemson at home and then VaTech and a desperate UVa on the road...
I think at worst we split our last 4 conference games, putting us in good position to still win or tie for the regular season... But I actually think we'll do better than that, going at least 3-1 down the stretch to stand alone atop the ACC... I see both of the other teams dropping at least one more game, but likely more...
[knock on wood]
The unbalanced schedule really set up nicely for VT this year. It plays the current bottom 5 in the conference twice. Bottom line though is Duke controls it's own destiny. Time to take care of business.
Clemson 2-4 (games at Maryland, at FSU, Ga Tech and at Wake to go)
Georgia Tech 3-5 (games at Clemson, VPI to go)
Duke 6-1 (VPI and at Maryland left)
FSU 3-4 (Clemson, Wake at home)
Maryland 3-3 (Clemson, at VPI, Duke)
Wake 2-3 (at FSU, Clemson)
Virginia Tech 2-1 (at Duke, Maryland, at Ga Tech)
A couple of points:
(1) Duke is lead in the ACC should be much wider -- the tightness of the race is almost entirely a product of the unbalanced schedule -- especially in regards to VPI's spot in the standings. If Maryland ends up tied with Duke, I'll give them credit -- they'll play basically the same schedule atthe end, including a head-to-head with Duke.
(2) You've got to cut Clemson and Georgia Tech a little bit of slack. They play the most difficult ACC schedule.
To me, I think there are really three levels to the ACC -- Duke, the other six NCAA teams, and the five also-rans. If you factor in the games the middle six have to play against Duke -- Clemson, Maryland and Georgia Tech all get an even tougher schedule (2 games with the best team), while Wake, Va Tech and FSU get one each.
For Duke, the schedule breaks in our favor in one way -- of the six teams that Duke plays once, the three that we get only at home were the three strongest (Wake, VPI and FSU) ... the three that we face only on the road (Virginia, Miami, NC State) are among the also-rans.
That breakdown would be bad for a bad team, trying to steal 2-3 wins from among those six games ... but for a good team trying to win a champ, it gives you the best chance to win 5-6 of the six.