Thursday, November 13, 2014

2014 hoops preview: ACC overview

The final post before basketball season opens for really reals.  First I refer you to two other posts: one from a couple weeks ago detailing the players of the ACC, and then, last year's post of this very kind so that I don't have to repeat my methodology.

To start, here's the average ranking given by each of the three ratings systems - TeamRankings, Dan Hanner, and KenPom.  This isn't poll-style, these are the averages of the national rankings, ordered top to bottom.

1) Duke -- 3.0
2) Louisville -- 3.7
3) Virginia -- 8.7
4) North Carolina -- 18.7
4) Syracuse -- 18.7
6) Pittsburgh -- 23.7
7) Florida State -- 42.7
8) Notre Dame -- 57.7
9) Miami -- 58.0
10) NC State -- 61.0
11) Clemson -- 71.3
12) Georgia Tech -- 111.0
13) Wake Forest -- 114.0
14) Boston College -- 123.7
15) Virginia Tech -- 148.7

-- It seems pretty clear who the raters think are the league's top three contenders, followed by a second tier who have at least an outside shot.  It's also pretty cool that UNC is one of the latter and not the former.

-- Both Duke and Louisville are picked by one system as the nation's top team.

-- There's an obvious and huge drop-off after #6, and again after #11 - as with last year, the league sorts out into some pretty clear levels.  These averages weren't perfect as far as predicting the exact finish order, but who would expect that?  They did succeed pretty well at getting the tiers right, with only a couple errors - ND being the largest, in no small part because of Jerian Grant's suspension.

-- It's still a pretty imprecise science.  Hanner has ND and Miami at 34 and 39, respectively; TeamRankings, 69 and 78.

-- In case you're curious, VT isn't quite the total disaster they were last year; Hanner has them 13th in the ACC.  (Frankly, I think Buzz Williams will win them a few games.)

So, who has the easiest schedule?  Well, we'll use the same methodology as last year, and....

1) Virginia -- 65.38
2) Clemson -- 63.72
3) Florida State -- 63.67
4) Miami -- 63.25
5) Syracuse -- 62.31
6) Notre Dame -- 61.79
7) Duke -- 61.17
8) Pittsburgh -- 56.93
9) Georgia Tech -- 56.50
10) North Carolina -- 55.32
11) NC State -- 55.23
12) Louisville -- 52.92
13) Wake Forest -- 51.04
14) Virginia Tech -- 47.57
15) Boston College -- 47.56

Yup.  I suppose we should prepare ourselves for another year of "unbalanced schedule" whining.  If Maryland were still here it'd be even easier - the number for UVA would be up over 68.

You expect this to line up sort of from best to worst teams, based on not getting to play oneself, so Louisville's placement so far down is notable.  They have UVA, Pitt, and UNC twice (plus Miami, so none of the really junky teams) and Syracuse on the road.  Florida State could also be sneaky good.  Meanwhile, calling UNC a top-ten team, as the polls do, probably means they're overrated - a tough schedule and a bit off the ratings pace.

At any rate, it's easy to see why we should be optimistic.  The schedule works in our favor again, if piling up wins is your thing.  Wake and VT twice, as well as NC State - three teams in the bottom half of the league and two of the three worst.  Duke at home, as well as Pitt and FSU.  Add in all the returning talent, brilliant coaching, and the numbers all tell you what you already know:

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