At the half-way point Duke and UNC at the top off the ACC is no suprise, but I certainly did not forsee VaTech toward the top nor UVA and NC State toward the bottom. Even after seeing them all play, it seems strange the way things have shaken out.
In the second half, I expect to see Maryland win some close ones and VaTech to lose some easy ones and slide back down. Clemson and BC are big question marks.
I guess the middle of the pack beating themselves up will either get a bunch of teams into the NCAA tourney, or leave a bunch on the busted bubble.
Just hope Duke maintains and stays healthy.
Another few loses by UNC would be nice as well, but not terribly likely.
Would like to see NC State and UVa live up to their capabilites a bit more, too.
Unlike previous seasons, I'm not sure the ACC is as talented top to bottom this year. Outside of Duke and UNC, I'm having trouble seeing another Sweet 16 team in there.
Here's another weirdness about Va Tech. They have yet to win a single conference game in regulation but yet are in the top half of the standings. Every ACC win of theirs has gone to overtime. Their good fortune likely won't last too much longer, but this is turning out to be a very strange season. And with this also being brutal for all these middle of the pack teams, if one of them does emerge to get an NCAA spot, they may be battle-hardened enough to do surprisingly well for a couple of rounds. I don't know who that might be, since all of them have significant weaknesses of one kind or another.
WOW, I had no idea all their wins were in OT. How did I miss that.
Uh.... Va Tech beat Maryland and FSU in regulation.
UNC has had four ACC games decided by a basket - they simply don't play to their potential and haven't for a number of years. They're a great team, but I think UNC will lose a least one more the in the ACC, and that's on top of whatever damage Duke can do.
State is a very interesting team right now. Aside from Duke, Clemson, and UNC (all on the road), they're 3-1 in conference. All of those have been very close games though. But more importantly, they're hovering in the middle of the pack despite having to rely on a freshman point guard who's learning as he goes. If Gonzalez can start to figure it out, they have as good a frontcourt as anyone in the conference, and their wings are pretty good too. The toughest thing for them is that they still have to play Clemson, Duke, and UNC AGAIN, and Maryland and BC on the road. They have what has to be the toughest schedule of any ACC team this year. If they can beat Va Tech tomorrow, suddenly the door is open for them to sneak into the tourney discussion. But they're going to have to play great down the stretch, and maybe steal one against either Duke, UNC, or (most likely) Clemson at home.
Va Tech has been really fortunate thus far. They've already played the worst team in the conference twice, and needed OT both times to beat them. They've yet to face Clemson or UNC so far. In fact, they may have the easiest schedule in the ACC this year (one game against Duke, UNC, and Clemson). Their second half has 4 very losable games and 4 reasonably winnable home games. But they're going to have to play at the top of their game to get to 9 or 10 ACC wins.
Maryland is playing like a completely different team than the one that struggled in December and early January. They're 4-3, and they don't face UNC again. They play Clemson at home, so the only game that they shouldn't be a favorite in is the Duke game. I think they'll get to 9-7 and be in the tournament.
Clemson should still be in decent shape. They need to play as well as possible and win 5-6 games to assure themselves of a bid. That should be reasonable, but they have to avoid clunkers like the one against Miami.
Miami is the only other team I could see backing in at this point. They have a fairly favorable schedule the rest of the way - not facing UNC and getting FSU twice and UVa and BC at home. Their chances may hinge on a trip to Blacksburg this weekend. If they can win there, their chances of getting to 9 wins look a LOT better. A loss puts their backs against the wall.
Oops, sorry for the mis-information above. I could have sworn their MD game was an OT affair as well and forgot the easy Fla St. game on top of that. Guess that's why I don't post very often. As Emily Litello used to say, "Never mind!"
Ken Pomeroy has an article at Basketball Prospectus that comments on the "strange" ACC standings. He doesn't discuss the relationship of the preseason picks to the current standings much. But he does talk about the unreal parity and how the amazing number of close games in the conference is a result of teams 3-12 not being that different from each other. One fact that he doesn't mention (and that Seattle Irish mentioned above) is that UNC has been involved in 4 of the 22 close games in conference play and is 3-1 in those games while Duke (by his definition) has not been involved in any close ACC games yet. I'm not saying that this means that Duke is the heavy favorite to claim the regular season crown, just that if UNC keeps playing with fire they are likely to get burned
He also lists how his power rankings predict the final standings for teams 3-12 (he assumes that Duke and UNC, in some order, will be 1-2) and also lists their records in close games and how many games each team has against Duke and UNC.
The article also discusses how the parity may make it more difficult for ACC bubble teams to get into the tourney with 8-8 or 7-9 conference records over bubble teams in conferences such as the Pac10 who will have gaudier conference win-loss records because of assured wins over an awful team like Oregon State (see South Florida (Big East) and Northwestern (Big 10) also).
So their period of not playing to their potential basically would be the last year and a half (52-8.. 87%) overall and (20-6..77%) in ACC games.
It's interesting that most people don't think Roy gets as much out Carolina as Dean did, but the raw numbers refute that. I believe Quentin Thomas needs 10 more wins to leave Carolina as the winningest player in Carolina history (current record 117) and the only player to play for 3 30 win teams.
just musing here, but can you imagine if unc and duke play our usual close game and unc was lucky enough to beat duke by a basket? that'd have to set some kind of record for a league-leading team to have more than half their games decided by a bucket or less.
now let's freaking blow unc out of the water and give them the loss they deserve.
The standings would look fine to me if they looked like this:
Duke: 16 - 0
Everyone else: 8 - 8
carolina: 0 - 16
Ozzie, your paradigm of optimism!
Go To Hell carolina, Go To Hell!
9F 9F 9F
The really bad thing is that they are not a young team that will get better or have a bright future. Singletary and Joseph are both seniors. Diane is a Junior. Baker is a redshirt soph, so he is in his 3rd year in college too (he has been a bright spot, at times, for them). The Cavs better get used to looking up at 10 or so names ahead of them in the ACC standings because I see it staying that way for another year at least.
--Jason "I feel sorry for Singletary, he deserved a better senior season" Evans
I think this begs the question, who outside of Duke and UNC will make the tournament? Will any of them? There are certainly no locks outside of the top two.
In for sure: Duke, UNC
Most likely in: Clemson
Good odds: Maryland
A chance: Va Tech (5 ACC wins so far)
Outside shot: NC State, Miami
BC and Wake have a very faint glimmer of possibility. Ga Tech just has too many losses, and FSU and UVa just have too many losses and not enough weapons.
I contributed my own in-depth look at potential NCAA Tournament bids for the ACC in a thread last week (at Devil's Den, I think), but I'll keep this short and sweet.
There are only four ACC teams that had legitimately good OOC performances: Duke, UNC, Clemson, Miami. We know Duke and UNC are locks to make the tournament and will almost certainly be seeded in the top two of one region or another. After that nothing is set in stone and the prospects of anyone other than Clemson making it aren't good.
Clemson is the one other team that can go 8-8 in the ACC and make the tourney. Miami would have a good shot at 8-8, but are unlikely to get there since they're currently 2-5. And the reason Miami isn't in the same boat as Clemson is because right at the end of OOC play it lost at home to some minor conference school that I can't name off the top of my head.
After that it really doesn't look good because nobody else has anything more than an average OOC ledger. They all have multiple losses, at least one bad loss, and basically zero good wins. Or, as in the case of Virginia, they have a good win (at Arizona), but are basically done for in ACC play.
NC State could make a run, but the one good OOC win it had was a lucky win over a team (Villanova) that is currently playing its way out of the NCAAs (getting killed right now by St. Joe's, I believe). Maryland is playing like a tourney team, but still has to make up for bad losses and must finish above .500 in conference. It looks worse for everyone else. Even VT has an uninspiring OOC resume and will certainly come back down to earth the second half of ACC play.
I guess that wasn't too short or sweet. Things just don't look good for the ACC this year. There is incredible balance outside the top two, but even 9-7 won't get it done for most ACC teams.
My prediction: Duke, UNC, Clemson, and one darkhorse (Maryland, NC State) if they finish at least 9-7 in ACC
Returning to Jason's comments on Virginia - to make their current season look even less impressive, besides that one good OOC win at Arizona, which was a long, long time ago now when AZ wasn't even sure who their coach was, this is UVa's OOC schedule:
Vermont, Howard, Drexel, Penn, Seton Hall (who beat them), Northwestern, Syracuse (also a loss), Longwood, Hampton, Elon, Hartford, and an evisceration at the hands of Xavier. So in my opinion, of their 4 "real" OOC games they lost 3 of them. And that's beside their stellar ACC performance so far. But let's hope they don't have one of those backs-against-the-wall miraculous performances at the end of the month when Duke goes up there. By then, however, their players may have already quit on Leitao.
(P.S. Going back to the records, the VT-MD game was indeed just regulation, but a 1 point game. Both their Virginia games and BC were OT, so that's still 3 and the 4th went to the wire. But I forgot about last week when Fla St. failed to show up in Blacksburg. I've got a feeling there might be lots of late starts in the ACC tournament this year with some OT games sprinkled in there as well.)
But NC State is making a bit of a move. They're 15-7, 4-4 in the ACC, and 4-1 against teams other than Duke, UNC, and Clemson. All of those games were road games. Their RPI is around 42 or something. They've got a shot to sneak into the tournament. They have 4 very winnable games (FSU, @UVa, @Wake, and @BC) and two other potentially winnable games (Clemson and @Maryland). A win against Clemson and winning four of the five other winnable games, and they'd be 20-10 and 9-7 in the ACC, with an RPI likely in the high-30s.