View Full Version : ACC Status

06-30-2008, 05:08 PM
As early as my arrival to the Duke campus in the 70s (and I'm sure earlier), many of us have consistently argued that ACC basketball rules the conference roost. As time continued to pass following Coach Wooden's retirement, those arguments came closer and closer to reflecting conventional wisdom. However, issues such as conference expansion and increasing early entry into the NBA make the ACC's leadership status far from a foregone conclusion today.

My question to the house: Does the ACC still reign supreme in college hoops?

Some statistics to allow you to begin to organize your thoughts follow (even while conceding that one year's results does not settle the matter).

From the recent NBA draft, the Pac-10 had 7 players drafted in the first round, including 3 of the top 5 and 5 of the top 11. The Big 12 was second with 4, followed by the Big East and Big Ten with 3 each and the SEC with 2. Conferences with one first-rounder were the ACC (State's J.J. Hickson, who continued the ACC's streak of 20 straight first-rounders), Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West, Summit, Sun Belt and WAC. The Pac-10 also had the most players selected overall, with 12. The Big 12 was second with 10, if you include Mike Taylor (originally from Iowa State but drafted out of the D-League), followed by the SEC with 6, the ACC, Big East and C-USA with 4 and the Big Ten with 3. Obviously, other ACC players who chose to remain in school would have been drafted and some could have been drafted highly.

Of the 2008 AP All-America Team (http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20080331/SPORTS/715492555/-1/rss04) (First, Second and Third Teams), the PAC-10 led with 3 selections; the ACC had one. If the list expands to include Honorable Mention selections, the PAC-10 still leads with 9, followed by the ACC and the Big East with 6 each and Big 12 and the SEC with 5 each.

06-30-2008, 05:16 PM
The short answer: no. The longer answer: We seem to be in the midst of a multi-year transitionary period right now. Much of this has been driven by expansion and coaching changes. Looking at where the coaching and playing talent is going, it seems the Big XII and Pac 10 will eventually come out on top, in that order.

My darkhorse call is that the Big East breaks up (or at least looks vastly different in basketball) within the next five or six years. The ACC will look the same, but the majority of its members are no longer primarily driven by basketball. So Duke is left playing basketball in a football conference.

06-30-2008, 05:21 PM
An excellent question, and one that I would never answer by looking at the results of the NBA draft. The Pac-10 has won 2 National Championships in the past 30 years. In that same time span, the ACC has won 8. That's just the crust too, if you continued to look at statistical evidence, the proof that the ACC is still the best would continue to pile up.

06-30-2008, 05:33 PM
I don't think it is fair to assess the success of the ACC over a year span. That is just bad statistics =). Also, "conventional wisdom" (i.e. sports analysts) speculated that the PAC-10 was the best conference last year during their preseason discussions.

For the future, I think that the ACC will continue to be dominant. While rankings are not exact (especially with inflated rankings due to which schools are looking), they are a decent indication of the success of college basketball players. The ACC has pulled in many top recruits for the class of 2008, particularly Wake Forest with two five star recruits in Al-Fariq Aminu and Ty Walker. We've also received a number of verbals for the classes of 2009 and 2010, both of which are considered much stronger than the class of 2008.

The UCLA's and Kansas' will probably be extremely good for a long time, but as conferences go, the ACC is more well rounded.


--> Four ACC teams in top 15 ranking classes...that's a third of our conference! =O

06-30-2008, 05:57 PM
It all depends on your perspective. You can choose an arbitrary amount of time and say the ACC is the best or not. Last 10 years? Maybe. Last 30? Yep. Last 50... debatable. Last year? They were not. The year before? No again. Next year? Probably not.

06-30-2008, 06:55 PM
idk, according to every tarheel fan i know, unc has already won the 2009 national championship.

but seriously, it looks like the big east is the best conference right now just because they have more teams competing. next year, connecticut, pittsburgh and louisville have title hopes and georgetown, notre dame, marquette, syracuse and west virginia look to be able to contend for the sweet sixteen. thats eight teams out of the sixteen that could make it past the first tournament weekend.

in the acc, duke and north carolina have legit title hopes while clemson, miami, virginia tech and wake forest have the firepower and recruits to make it past the first weekend. 6 teams out of 12.

every other conference doesnt have nearly this many elitely competitive teams. id say the big east and the acc are relatively even in the race to be the best conference.

06-30-2008, 07:35 PM
I wish we could get rid of this crappy ACC/Big10 crap and have the competition with the Big East so we can prove how good the conference is. I would LOVE to know what the record is for ACC vs BigEast teams in the last 5 years... 10 years.

Bob Green
06-30-2008, 07:43 PM
...and have the competition with the Big East...

There use to be an ACC/Big East Challenge but the Big East coaches opted out of it due to schedule concerns.

06-30-2008, 09:40 PM
My question to the house: Does the ACC still reign supreme in college hoops?

Without the definitive proof of championships, I just don't think there's a satisfactory way to answer this question. Statistics can be isolated and used in any way possible, and gut feelings give too much strength to long-ago glories.

I think the Big XII and Pac-10 (and maybe the SEC) are in the mix now because 2-3 of their best teams co-dominate the national polls. But that really says nothing about a conference's balance. Can a conference that includes Oregon State, Colorado, or Auburn really lay claim to being the best?

On the other hand, someone could make the strong argument that the Big Ten is the most balanced of conferences -- on any given night, team X could beat team Y -- but that doesn't mean that the conference as a whole is all that dominant when pitted against nonconference competition.

So you can see how this subject can be very frustrating. It's easier to compare, say, the top half of each major conference. Then the Big East and ACC start to look quite good again.

07-01-2008, 12:37 AM
I wish we could get rid of this crappy ACC/Big10 crap and have the competition with the Big East so we can prove how good the conference is. I would LOVE to know what the record is for ACC vs BigEast teams in the last 5 years... 10 years.

Those statistics would be interesting, and wouldn't be too hard to compile, but can someone besides me do it?

07-01-2008, 02:03 AM
im not smart enough to figure it up for 5 years, but for last year (including ncaa tournament) the acc won more games (11-9). as you can see, it was not a wide margin. some of the best acc victories for the series was georgia tech over notre dame, unc over louisville (tourny), miami over providence, nc state over villanova, and nc state over cincinnati. nc state helped the acc cause the most, winning all three of their games over big east opponents last year. some of the prize big east victories are pitt over duke, west virginia over duke (tourney), and villanove over miami (tourney).

07-01-2008, 11:07 AM
Some more stats to aid the discussion.

Final Four appearances over the past ten seasons: the ACC and the Big 10 lead with 9 each; the Big 12 has 6; the PAC-10, Big East and the SEC have 4 each.

National Championships over the past ten seasons: the ACC and the Big East lead with 3 each while the SEC has 2.

Final Four appearances over the past five seasons: the ACC leads with 4; the PAC-10, the Big 10 and the SEC have 3 each.

National Championships over the past five seasons: the SEC leads with Florida's 2; the ACC, the Big East and the Big 12 have 1 each.

07-01-2008, 12:32 PM
Those stats, while revealing, primarily refer to which conference the elite teams come from -- it doesn't necessarily indicate conference strength.

I would propose the following formula to calculate conference strength (over any period of time...say, 10 years?):

- 25% on winning percentage in the NCAA tournament. This will measure the conference's ability to win at the highest level.

- 25% on the percentage of teams in the conference who make it into the NCAA tournament. This will be a good indicator of how many "strong" teams are in a conference.

- 50% on the conference RPI. The conference RPI is a useful measure since it gives you a quantifiable, "average" view of a conference's strength over the course of the season. A conference without any elite teams but which consists of many good teams can thus look better than a conference with one elite team and many dogs. I would be OK with substituting conference RPI with another metric such as Pomeray's ratings, Sagarin's ratings, etc.

The resulting normalized number is thus driven by three common measures of conference strength: elite level performance, NCAA tournament representation, and "average" top-to-bottom performance.

(Note that the above weights assume that post-season success is as important as regular season success...definitely arguable).

07-01-2008, 08:47 PM
The second metric is number of teams from a conference that make the tournament. (sorry I meant to write percent.)

Lately, the number of teams that get into the NCAA seems to be dictated by matchups for TV and fairness to mid majors rather than picking the top teams in the nation. So in a power conference that is well balanced you need to play exceptionally well to get into the tournament. (I know this sounds like an ACC biased statement but I am biased for the ACC).

In the ACC last year there were no automatic wins. I know that Va Tech and Md "shot themselves in the foot" last year with some bad losses, but if there had been a team like Oregon State in the ACC (or was it Oregon) Va Tech and Md would have had 2 additional easy wins and 2 less losses and would both have made last year's tournament.

In assessing league strength, league balance has to be considered somehow and number of entries into the NCAA actually may have an inverse correlation to balance in a conference.

In order to consider this further think of the following scenario; Four ACC teams finish 9-7 in the conference, four teams finish 8-8 and four teams finish 7-9. How many teams get into the NCAA?

07-02-2008, 03:56 AM
IMO, the ACC has been perceived to be 'down' in the last couple of years. (And maybe that is the truth). However, I personally believe it's because good teams or bad, the competition in this conference has no rival.

EVERY ACC game creates a chance for an upset. Sorry, but I don't see the same scenario in the Pac-10, Big 12, Big 10, East, etc. What makes the ACC so special is the PASSION of all teams to "bring it."

I attend UCLA, USC, AZ, Cal, Stanford games on a regular basis. (....yawn). Give me the ACC ANYTIME, ANYWHERE, ANYHOW.

I like Coach Howland, Tim Floyd and of course I'm rooting for the success of JD at Stanford. So, I'm not giving up with the Pac-10 as an amusement sport, but.... again nothing rivals the ACC.

07-02-2008, 01:31 PM
In order to consider this further think of the following scenario; Four ACC teams finish 9-7 in the conference, four teams finish 8-8 and four teams finish 7-9. How many teams get into the NCAA?What if two finish at 15-1, six finish at 7-9, and four finish at 6-10. Obviously, we only get two.

07-02-2008, 01:59 PM
The ACC has consistently had the best bottom of any conference recently - the last place team in the ACC is usually the best last place team in the country. The point that every team in the Pac-10 gets two free wins from playing Oregon State is legit.

You can throw out any amount of worthless stats to show that conference X is the best conference. I think the Pac-10, ACC, and Big East are all kind of tied at the top for the best conference overall in the past few years.