ACC Bracketology: Week of February 5Posted by EMann on February 5th, 2013
With nearly half of the ACC docket gone and Miami continuing to cement its hold on an undefeated league record, now is as good a time as any to continue with the bracket talk.
Duke (19-2, 6-2): While Duke is not first in the ACC (and has a 27-point defeat to the team currently leading the conference), the Blue Devils would almost assuredly receive the highest seed of any team in the ACC if the season ended today. (A similar margin of defeat for North Carolina last year against a team from Florida did not cost them a #1 seed). Wins against Louisville, Minnesota, VCU, and Kentucky have definitely lost some of their luster in recent weeks, but Duke is still #1 in the RPI rankings and is now ranked #4 in the national polls. The Blue Devils put together by far their best performance post-Ryan Kelly in their resounding defeat of Florida State over the weekend. While Kelly’s return is still uncertain, talk is that he could return to action around the end of February. Duke gets its first revenge game on Thursday at home against NC State, and a win there against a snake-bitten NC State team would do wonders to increase Duke’s legitimacy without Kelly playing. Duke will obviously hope to have him back at 100% soon, because potentially huge games loom in Duke’s final four conference games (@Virginia, Miami, Virginia Tech, @UNC). At the moment, Duke would probably be the third or fourth #1 seed, and could possibly gain the overall #1 seed by running the table, or could fall to a #2 seed if they drop two or three more games in league play depending on what happens in the Big Ten, with middling scenarios (one or two additional conference losses and an ACC Tournament championship) likely keeping them about where they are now.
- Seed projection: #1 (now), could fall to a #2
- Best wins: Louisville (neutral), Ohio State, VCU, Kentucky (neutral), Minnesota (neutral)
- Worst losses: @Miami (just by the sheer margin)
Miami (17-3, 8-0): The Hurricanes may be the hottest team in America right now, having won nine games in a row. Their victory on Reggie Johnson’s last second tip-in in Raleigh on Saturday made Miami the heavy favorite to win the ACC’s regular season title, as they hold a two-game lead over the closest opposition, Duke, whom they have already defeated by 27 points. The Hurricanes are also ranked #2 in the RPI (behind only Duke), so all of the computer numbers are going to bat for them, and they have also risen into the top 10 in the AP poll. Miami’s only truly difficult conference game left is against Duke in Cameron, but aside from that, they should be favored in every game and the conference right now is clearly theirs to lose. Miami has a great case for a 2 seed right now with its RPI and resounding defeat of Duke, which could be the most impressive feather in the cap for any team this season. If they run the table in the ACC, they will get a #1 seed, and if they finish 16-2 or 17-1, their chances of a #1 seed are still pretty good, especially if they also win the ACC Tournament. The game against Duke could be a battle for top seed and would put the winner in the driver’s seat headed into the ACC Tournament.
- Seed projection: #2, could rise to #1 or fall to #3
- Best wins: Duke (by 27 points), @NC State, Michigan State
- Worst losses: @Florida Gulf Coast, Indiana State (neutral)
NC State (16-6, 5-4): NC State has been maddeningly inconsistent in conference play. While they have signature wins against Triangle rivals Duke and North Carolina, they have dropped four league games by a combined total of seven points. Two of those losses were by one point on shots made within the final second (@Maryland, Miami), and two involved playing without an injured Lorenzo Brown (@Virginia, Miami), and one of those losses is going to look very bad (@Wake Forest). NC State would definitely make the NCAAs at this point, but the preseason league favorites have to be a bit disappointed with how their season has progressed, falling out of the top 25 polls this week. The Wolfpack are currently #21 in the RPI and still have two huge road games against Duke and North Carolina remaining, but right now they are probably looking at about a #7 seed, particularly if they do not get any more signature wins nor take any bad losses.
- Seed projection: #7
- Best wins: Duke, North Carolina, Stanford
- Worst losses: @Wake Forest, @Maryland, @Virginia
North Carolina (15-6, 5-3): North Carolina would be in the NCAA Tournament field if it were announced today, but they would likely be a double-digit seed. UNC’s best victory is at home against a UNLV team that has not quite lived up to expectations. UNC also destroyed Maryland at home and does not truly have any bad conference losses, although they struggled to beat lowly Virginia Tech this weekend. However, UNC was barely competitive in most of its losses this season, except for their games against Virginia, and to a lesser extent, Miami, and was blown out by a Texas team that is currently under .500. So while North Carolina has largely avoided embarrassing losses to non-Tournament teams, they also only have one win against a team likely to be playing in March. If UNC can win any of its remaining games against Duke (two games), at Miami, or home against NC State, they would have a chance to add that signature win to keep them squarely off the bubble. Right now, they are looking at about a #10 or #11 seed.
- Seed projection: #10-#11
- Best wins: UNLV, Maryland
- Worst losses: @Texas, @Virginia
Maryland (16-6, 4-5): Maryland has really struggled since conference play has started, going o-4 on the road thus far in ACC play. Its signature win against NC State has lost a little bit of its luster considering the Wolfpack’s recent struggles, but it is still a nice win to have on the resume, as it is the only certain NCAA team that Maryland has defeated this season. Maryland’s non-conference schedule was full of cupcakes, so it desperately needs another signature win in league play to get off of the bubble, especially considering it was already swept by a disappointing Florida State team. Its best chances are the remaining home games against Duke and North Carolina and two match-ups against fellow bubble team Virginia. The RPI of #71 does not help either.
- Seed projection: Likely out, possibly playing in first round as a #12/#13 seed
- Best wins: NC State
- Worst losses: Florida State (both home and away)
Virginia (15-6, 5-3): Virginia has an extremely bizarre resume. It is 0-3 against the CAA including possibly the worst loss any team in NCAA Tournament contention could have (to 2-20 Old Dominion), but it has also won at the Kohl Center. It has struggled mightily on the road in the ACC (1-3), with losses to Clemson, Wake Forest, and Georgia Tech. Virginia’s losses to these teams that are highly unlikely to make the Dance are likely going to come back to bite them. Virginia has wins at home against NC State and North Carolina, and it also still gets Duke at home, Miami on the road, and two cracks at Maryland. These games are hugely important (along with not dropping any games at home to non-Tourney teams) to aiding Virginia’s case, as they are ranked outside the RPI top 100 (largely due to the awful loss to ODU).
- Seed projection: Likely out due to lousy RPI
- Best wins: @Wisconsin, NC State, North Carolina
- Worst losses: Old Dominion, Delaware, @Wake Forest, @Georgia Tech
Note: Clemson (12-9, 4-5), Wake Forest (10-11, 3-6), Georgia Tech (12-8, 2-6), Florida State (12-9, 4-4), Virginia Tech (11-10, 2-6), and Boston College (10-11, 2-6) would need to win the ACC Tournament to make the NCAA Tournament.