I know it's a bad idea in general to be caught looking ahead, especially with Maryland at College Park coming up, but this isn't really Duke-specific looking ahead. I was, however, thinking after last night's game, "Man, I don't want to have to play those guys again this year," but of course there's always the Tournament.
I absolutely hate ACC expansion (that VT's even IN the conference, actually), but mostly for the wanton destruction of the home-and-home schedules that made comparisons of schedules so much more valid and fair. And for what it did to the ACC Tournament. I still haven't even fully figured out the structure of it yet, hate the 4 day length, hate the fact that the majority of the teams would have to play 4 straight days and win four straight games to win it (but the alternative of shutting some teams out of participation altogether is unthinkable to me).
BUT, this year, I have to say it ought to be absolutely brutal, and maybe immensely entertaining for being that. Right now there are SEVEN teams out of twelve with 3 losses in conference - in essense a 7 team tie for last place. And those seven teams have losing records. One team is at .500. Only four teams have winning records, right? (and we know who the top two are; BC I suspect will drift down into the pack eventually). And I think almost all the victories by teams not Duke and UNC have been at home (thank you, Maryland for the anomoly; let's hope the law of averages bites you back on Sunday night). So what happens when you put all these teams in a tournament on a neutral site?
It could be a gloriously brutal week. Add to the formula all the TV talking heads probably confidently predicting by that point that only 3 or 4 teams (i.e. only one or two not named Duke or UNC) are likely to get NCAA bids unless something dramatic happens, and it could become a bloodbath.
The first round games could be savage. The fifth place team could be very good. The last place team wouldn't be all that bad. Right now the two would in fact have almost identical records. Every one of these teams could think themselves NCAA-worthy, but would have to win a couple more games at least to prove it, and they will all try to. The top couple of teams would most certainly not have an easy opener at all the next day. One could easily be Duke and VT again, with the Allen kid in the paint for them this time, and a great deal to prove. I would not want to have to play two more games in two days after another one of those.
So I'm not trying to get ahead of myself only a quarter of the way through the regular season. But it could be a great tournament over-all when it comes (although I still hate the expanded format). OK, back to pre-Maryland thoughts as we should be.
I still can't believe we sacrificed the even schedules and 3-day tourney for a football championship game that hasn't come close to selling out yet.
Wish they could take a "mulligan" on that decision.
At this point in the season, who do you see as the number three team in the conference? It seems that NC State, four games in, has laid claim to the cellar (though things could obviously change). UVA and Va Tech seem to be a bit weaker than the rest, due to a number of losses from last year's squads that were pretty good. However, B.C., Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Miami, and even Wake have had very impressive and very lackluster games to this point.
Clemson is the obvious choice, though they are two baskets away from being 1-4 in conference (by the same token, they are one basket away from being 4-1). That doesn't make them any better or worse, per se, but they haven't been as impressive in conference as they were out of conference. I have to think Maryland is my choice to make a run--I have no idea what was going on early in the season because I don't really follow them that closely, but they seem to have the horses to make it click.
I agree with the initial post, though I think the parity makes the regular season as much of a war as the tourney. And I might well be overrating Wake and underrating VPI. Should be very interesting.
In order to save the ACC, they had to destroy it, I guess. But I suppose, more darkly, it was really: In order to get more money (which may or may not have succeeded) they had to destroy it. Duke and NC State are total strangers now in football, but we never seem to miss getting that Miami game a thousand miles away. I had to smile this year at the BC-VT "ACC championship game" with all those pro-expansion teams like Clemson and Maryland sitting at home with their thoughts of football greatness through expansion. But I weep every new bball season at what has happened, never sure who we play once or twice, who comes to Cameron this year and where Duke does not go. What a travesty.
I'm starting to think Ga Tech could emerge as the #3. Every night so many of these teams play completely differently, though, and I fear there are still some important injuries to come. Clemson was suddenly not that impressive at home with Wake, but they SHOULD be the 3rd best it seems to me. But then again... who plays whom a second time? Wake and UVa have very favorable records, which could make just the extra half-game or so edge over some other team in the standings. It's a real mess, but could also be really fun.
I looked at the remaining schedules and obviously it depends on who mans up on the road but I don't think that it is crazy to predict 5-6 teams with 9 losses and 3 teams with 10 losses. The ACC folks would have lots of fun seeding for the tournament if that turns out to be the case.
I've just been looking at remaining schedules as well (and meant to write "favorable schedules" not "favorable records" for Wake and UVa in my previous post above.
Wake, should they recover from injuries and start shooting better, actually is in surprisingly good shape. They play UNC only once, and Duke only once, and that's even at home. They do not even play Clemson a second time. On paper this seems the easiest schedule of them all.
UVa does not play either UNC or Clemson twice. But Maryland also does not play UNC a second time (they finished the regular season undefeated vs. UNC!) and like Duke does not have to go to Clemson. Ga Tech also plays Duke and UNC only once (who DOES UNC play twice?).
So the more I look at the schedule, things do tend to even out a bit (and reminds me what great games we never will see played with the expansion dirtying the water). The real shame is a team like NC State conceivably could be narrowly beaten out of the bye-receiving 4th seed in the ACC tournament by Wake Forest simply by having to play Duke and UNC and Clemson in 6 games this year, where Wake only faced them in three. I hate this unbalanced schedule.
Faustus - Your analysis of the unbalanced schedule confirms what I read. Wake and Virginia Tech have the easiest roads and N.C.State has the most difficult.
My logic may be messed up but I would prefer to play UNC and Duke on the road vice at home. Winning on the road is difficult against all ACC teams. Winning at home is much more likely, particularly, if the opposition isn't one of the big dogs. Playing them at home takes away one of your better chances at a win.
For what it's worth, these are the predicted conference records according to Pomeroy
This doesn't quite work out, because it adds up to 95 wins and 97 losses (in reality, wins and losses have to be equal), but it's not far off of the scenario that Faustis envisions. I'd hate to hear the squawking from the different coaches whose teams are 8-8 or 7-9 about why their respective teams deserve a tournament bid.
GW67, I do see your logic. When you're in the middle of the pack and need every conference win you can get, it may indeed be more advantageous to have, say, your only Fla State game at home, which you have a decent chance of winning, and your only UNC game away, which would likely be a loss anyway. Better chance of going at least 1-1 that way, when it could very well become 0-2 reversing the game sites.
One glitch I see with that is that all these teams bunched together (along with all the ones similarly placed in other conferences) desperately need the Big Win in the regular season. Ga Tech came SO close to getting one from UNC... at home. Could have turned their season around and nailed that Signature Win for the NCAA selection committee right there. What would those chances of winning have been if that only meeting this year were in Chapel Hill? So sometimes the tough game at home is worth the risk, I guess. But generally I think you're right.
And for PatentGeek's standings above, potential coin flips sure could make a few coaches angry, and change a lot of motel reservations.