NCAA Releases RPI: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly for the ACC

Posted by mpatton on January 8th, 2013

The NCAA on Tuesday released its first RPI ratings as conference season kicks off across the country. The news is mixed for the ACC, but it definitely looks like six (maybe seven) ACC teams will be fighting for NCAA bids this year.

The Good

  • Duke is tops in the land, and it’s probably not close. Between beating top-tier non-conference foes and Mike Krzyzewski’s “gaming” of the system with solid mid-majors at neutral sites (see: Davidson), Duke could probably sustain a loss or two (especially on the road) without dropping in the rankings. Right now the Blue Devils are as close to a lock for a one-seed as you can be in early January.
Miami should celebrate its RPI ranking, but there's still plenty of work to be done. (Photo: Al Diaz / Miami Herald)

Miami should celebrate its RPI ranking, but there’s still plenty of work to be done. (Photo: Al Diaz / Miami Herald)

  • Miami shockingly sits at #8 because of a perfect schedule: They haven’t lost at home, the teams they’ve lost to aren’t that bad, and they scheduled difficult enough (according to Jerry Palm, they have the third best strength of schedule in the country behind Duke and Colorado). That home win against Michigan State definitely helps a lot too, but props to Jim Larranaga for knowing how to schedule. Combine the high RPI and solid best win with the fact that the three losses came without Durand Scott and Reggie Johnson, and right now Miami feels pretty safe (assuming decent play in the ACC) come Selection Sunday.
  • NC State rounds out the top tier for the ACC, sliding into the index at #15. Playing a decent schedule (Michigan — even with the loss — on the road helped greatly) has the Wolfpack in a good place. This team doesn’t have any marquee wins, though, which needs to change before Selection Sunday. Unfortunately, as you’re about to find out, there aren’t a ton of high-profile wins to be had in conference play (especially if you’re one of the high-profile teams).

The Bad

  • North Carolina is top-50 (#42 to be exact), but let’s be real: The Tar Heels aren’t shooting for a top-50 finish. That said, this team’s struggles away from home are going to be a serious hindrance to an elite RPI assuming they continue. North Carolina still isn’t really in danger of missing the NCAAs, but starting off conference play with an uninspired loss at Virginia wasn’t a great look (to be fair, Vegas had the Tar Heels as underdogs). The double-edged silver lining for the Tar Heels is that they have the hardest possible conference schedule, so there are several marquee wins available.

Mark Turgeon dug himself a hole with a weak nonconference schedule.

Mark Turgeon dug himself a hole with a weak nonconference schedule.

  • Maryland (#67) torched its RPI with horrendous scheduling. The RPI is 25% your winning percentage, 50% your opponents’ winning percentage and 25% your opponents’ opponents’ winning percentage. Without delving too deep into Maryland’s profile, nine of Marylands opponents are at or below 0.500 so far. That’s abysmal. ACC play should help, assuming the Terrapins’ success translates, but Mark Turgeon has already dug a Seth Greenberg-esque hole that the Selection Committee won’t love.
  • Florida State (#72) is in surprisingly OK shape, considering its four home losses (two to less-than-stellar competition). Unlike Maryland, the Seminoles don’t need good wins to bulk up their RPI profile; they need them to undo said bad losses. Having seen Florida State live, this team doesn’t feel like one that’s going to blitz through the conference schedule like last season (and this comes from someone who had them finishing second in conference play). Don’t get me wrong, I expect Florida State to surprise a few teams in Tallahassee, but it’s hard to see it getting to the bubble without dramatic improvement, much less falling on the right side of said bubble.

The Ugly

Tony Bennett needs to build on his squad's win against North Carolina to get into the RPI top-100.

Tony Bennett needs to build on his squad’s win against North Carolina to get into the RPI top-100.

  • Hopefully you weren’t counting, but if you were, this section is all too large. Half of the ACC currently sports RPIs below #100. Half. And it’s hard to see any outside of Virginia (#133), barring a Georgia Tech (#123) win at NC State Wednesday, climbing out of the RPI wasteland. Bad home losses abound (see Virginia’s duel with Delaware), and the teams aren’t talented enough to make up a lot of ground.
  • That said, Virginia’s wins over North Carolina and at Wisconsin probably look good enough to the Committee to wipe out at least one of their bad losses. With a good finish in conference play (12-6 sounds about right), the Cavaliers should like their chances come March.
  • The rest of the cellar is there to stay and needs to be looking at winning the ACC Tournament to grab a bid.
mpatton (576 Posts)

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