Thursday, November 7, 2013

2013 hoops preview: ACC overview

UNC game preview coming tomorrow.  Tonight is the final touches on the year's basketball preview.  It's perhaps a little less comprehensive than you might hope from the title, but as you know by now, full previews come later.  After the end of football season.

Today is just a simple exercise using three preseason ranking systems.  Ken Pomeroy's is the old and venerable system, though it's been tweaked for this year.  Dan Hanner is in his second year doing a full projection for ESPN.  And TeamRankings also has a list of their own.  I'm not going to reproduce them all here except for one thing: here is the average of each ACC team's placements in the various systems:

1) Duke - 5
2) UNC - 11.67
3) Syracuse - 14.67
4) Virginia - 15
5) Pittsburgh - 24.33
6) Notre Dame - 28
7) Maryland - 42.67
8) Boston College - 52.33
9) Georgia Tech - 57.67
10) NC State - 79.33
11) Miami - 80.67
12) Florida State - 88.33
13) Clemson - 90.67
14) Wake Forest - 102.33
15) Virginia Tech - 150

The number following each team is their average national ranking.  Quick notes on that:

-- UVA beats Syracuse in two of the three projections, but KenPom is bullish enough on Cuse that their average just pips the Hoos.

-- There's a pretty clear hierarchy.  A top six forms, then a middle three, and a bottom six.  You could further subdivide the top six into a top four, and also further subdivide the bottom six into one really huge ball of suck and then five others.

-- Hanner is much less excited about the ACC than the other two.  The average national rank in KenPom is about 54, for TeamRankings about 53, and for Hanner about 61.  Mainly this is due to four outliers that Hanner thinks are worse than do the other two: BC, Miami, NC State, and Wake.  He's also the guy that has UVA 2nd in the ACC, though.  This makes his obviously the best ratings.

The next thing I did was to apply all these rankings to everyone's schedule.  Simply took a team's schedule and the rankings of the teams on it in each of the three systems, and added an RPI-like multiplier to each one.  An opponent played at home had its ranking multiplied by 1.25 to reflect home-court advantage; the road multiplier was 0.75.  I used the national ranking, not the ACC 1-15 rankings.  Example: FSU is ranked 105th by KenPom and UVA opens their conference schedule in Tallahassee, so that became 78.75 for strength-of-schedule ranking purposes.

The results are delightful.  I was going to bore you with a strength of schedule list for all three systems, plus the average, but UVA finishes in the same place in each one: Easiest.  So, just the average then.  Here's each team's strength of schedule using this average-rating system:

1) Virginia - 63.27
2) Miami - 60.87
3) Maryland - 60.54
4) Pittsburgh - 60.05
5) Duke - 58.36
6) UNC - 57.75
7) Boston College - 57.34
8) Clemson - 56.55
9) Florida State - 54.67
10) NC State - 54.13
11) Syracuse -53.29
12) Notre Dame - 53.23
13) Georgia Tech - 52.81
14) Wake Forest - 50.65
15) Virginia Tech - 50.49

Believe it or not, that's a big gap between easiest and second-easiest.  The teams we play twice are FSU, Maryland, VT, and ND.  VT sucks a ton; their ranking is so bad that teams playing them twice got an extra boost.  Getting the #12 and #15 teams in the league twice is helpful.  Maryland is middling, and only ND - which sits at the bottom of the upper echelon - is a dual threat.  Of its fellow top-four teams, UVA also gets Cuse and UNC at home, helping to mitigate their effect on the schedule.  Pitt and Duke are road trips, but Pitt is a clear and obvious fifth in all ranking systems.  And even though Duke is the consensus top team, the way I've done this biases the effect of playing the tip-top teams somewhat, in that it doesn't much matter whether you play them at home or away.  (But that's kind of like real life, too.)

Few other notes:

-- VT, obviously, has the toughest schedule because they don't get to play VT.  But Wake is surprisingly close, and actually comes in with the toughest schedule using only Hanner's system, and only TeamRankings as well.  Not a surprise since they play all their Tobacco Road rivals twice.

-- I'm a little disappointed the ACC didn't take my suggestion of forcing Maryland to play all their games on the road.  They and Miami have relatively easy paths as well.

-- Cuse and ND got kind of slammed.  Though they're two of the upper-level teams in the conference, they'll have noticeably tougher roads than either Duke or UNC, and UVA could well finish ahead of Cuse in the standings just for schedule reasons alone.  Pitt as well.

-- It underscores the need to do well in the non-conference stretch. Yes, the ACC is tough and should make us look pretty good no matter what.  (Assuming we win games.)  But it probably won't escape notice that we have the easiest schedule in the conference.  VT is going to be a drag on the RPI.  The path to success is well and smoothly paved, but it also puts on the pressure to succeed.


pezhoo said...

I was driving in today and wondering, "Will Brendan do a preview of the football game? Or just say they're not worth the time?" Then I was thinking maybe it was an off week, then I tried to remember who we play. Carolina! Carolina! We play UNC this week and my disinterest is so high I had to think long and hard about it. Ridiculous.

So happy basketball season is here. I suddenly hate the Dukes. Go Hoos!

Brendan said...

There'll be a preview....but it'll be the least timely preview ever. One of the basicest things there is to do as a blogger is this game preview. Thick and thin and all that. Honestly, the OOC schedule preview always takes a long time to write and I just decided on Tuesday to let it spill over into Wednesday (since it was like midnight when I made that call) and the domino effect went from there.

Anonymous said...

The most interesting thing about the JMU game is probably that it looks like Devon Hall is the redshirt option. Well, that and the fact that Teven Jones looks like the 10th man. I don't read too much into guys getting a lot of minutes early in the year (I mean, IIRC, Billy Baron had a fair amount of minutes to start the year a few years back), but the lack of minutes for Jones does stand out, unless there's something I've missed, news wise, in the last few days.

Anonymous said...

As a side note, I'm going to be really psyched about the Duke game this year from a match-up perspective. Duke wants to run and gun way more than before, and they have the horses to do it. The key to the game may be whether or not Mike Tobey can dominate inside.

In terms of individual match-ups, I am really going to love seeing Justin Anderson on Jabari Parker, if they are switched onto each other (it's possible someone like Akil will be asked to handle Parker at times). That said, Anderson is a fabulous physical matchup with Parker.