Breaking Down ACC Weekend #2 – Advanced Statistical PreviewPosted by Brad Jenkins on January 11th, 2014
It’s the second weekend of conference play in the ACC, so let’s take a look at the match-ups from an advanced statistics perspective. For each game we will show how the two teams compare in efficiency ratings and the four factors, offense versus defense. We will also look at interesting areas of particular strength and weakness that could hold the key to the outcomes of these games. All numbers are from Ken Pomeroy’s site and are current through games of January 8, 2014. The games are presented in the order of best combined Pomeroy overall team rankings (all times EST).
Saturday - North Carolina (10-5, 0-2 ACC) @ Syracuse (15-0, 2-0 ACC) – ESPN (12:00 PM)
Pomeroy Prediction: (#5) Syracuse 75-64 (#34) North Carolina
There’s some chatter that it would be typical of this year’s up and down Tar Heels team to pull off another monumental upset in the Carrier Dome. But North Carolina has actually been more consistent lately, only in a bad way. The Heels do not look like a confident team right now. Still, Roy Williams has shown in the past (including this season) that he can motivate a team out of a slump. At least they appear to have one clear advantage on the offensive end they could exploit – offensive rebounding. Unfortunately for the Heels, the same is true on the other end with Syracuse hitting the offensive glass hard this season. Taking care of the ball will also be crucial against the long and active Syracuse zone. It will be interesting to see how many three-pointers each team takes. Neither likes to shoot many, but they both allow opponents to fire a bunch. Finally, a good start by the Heels (see: the Michigan State game) is important, but with the way the Orange has come back from big early deficits, even that may not be enough.
Saturday - Duke (12-3, 1-1 ACC) @ Clemson (10-4, 1-1 ACC) – RSN (2:00 PM)
Pomeroy Prediction: (#17) Duke 65-63 (#48) Clemson
This looks like a great unit match-up between Duke’s top rated offense and the stellar Clemson defense. If that match-up is a stalemate, then the game may depend on how well the Tigers can score in the paint, which has been a weakness for the Blue Devils. The battle on the boards on Clemson’s offensive end will also be crucial as both teams excel in that matchup. The Tigers have a good chance if they can control the tempo at home and get the Blue Devils in a half-court game. The Tigers rank as one of the five slowest teams in the nation at only 62 possessions per game.
Saturday - Wake Forest (11-4, 1-1 ACC) @ Pittsburgh (14-1, 2-0 ACC) – ACCN (12:00 PM)
Pomeroy Prediction: (#7) Pittsburgh 73-59 (#87) Wake Forest
Pittsburgh is the biggest favorite this weekend according to Pomeroy, and that is based on the advantage that the Panthers appear to have with their defense versus a below-average Wake Forest offense. The Deacons’ offense does not have a single advantage in any of the four factors. On the other end of the court, the match-up is very close. The only big advantage the Pitt offense has is in taking care of the ball against a Wake team is that it doesn’t force many miscues.
Saturday - Virginia (11-4, 2-0 ACC) @ N.C. State (11-4, 1-1 ACC) – ESPN2 (5:00 PM)
Pomeroy Prediction: (#23) Virginia 63-61 (#75) N.C. State
After a shaky performance in the non-conference portion of their schedule, Virginia is off to a good start in ACC play and already has an impressive road win in the books (at Florida State). The Cavaliers’ defense is one of the best around and will be a challenge for a Wolfpack squad that has lost their last two home games to similarly tough veteran squads, Missouri and Pittsburgh. N.C. State will have to take care of their defensive boards and hope to have an edge in turnovers to offset what could be a large free throw deficit. The Wolfpack has excelled at two-point shooting but that goes against a strength of Virginia. That match-up could well decide the outcome.
Sunday - Maryland (10-6, 2-1 ACC) @ Florida State (10-4, 1-1 ACC) – ESPNU (8:00 PM)
Pomeroy Prediction: (#23) Florida State 74-67 (#63) Maryland
This looks like another defensive battle for the Seminoles, which are coming off a split against two other top 10 defensive teams, Virginia and Clemson. While Maryland’s defensive unit is not in that class, they do a good job on the boards which will offset Florida State’s best offensive area. This also has the makings of a very sloppy contest with both teams very weak at ball-handling. Look for the tall Seminoles to cause Maryland problems shooting the ball, but look for the Terps to try and compensate by rebounding a high percentage of what could be a whole lot of misses.
Saturday - Notre Dame (10-5, 1-1 ACC) @ Georgia Tech (9-6, 0-2 ACC) – ACCN (12:00 PM)
Pomeroy Prediction: (#67) Notre Dame 71-70 (#112) Georgia Tech
Notre Dame travels to Atlanta for its first ACC road game with both teams adapting to playing without an important player that they had counted on in the early season. Without Jerian Grant, the Irish are trying to maintain that excellent offense which shoots well inside and out, and rarely turns the ball over. Georgia Tech has lost big man Robert Carter, Jr., who helped the Yellow Jackets put up solid rebounding numbers for the season. Both teams excel on the defensive glass and are similar in that neither shoots many free throws. In fact Georgia Tech did not scratch from the line in their last outing at Duke.
Saturday - Boston College (4-11, 0-2 ACC) @ Virginia Tech (8-6,1-1 ACC) – RSN (12:00 PM)
Pomeroy Prediction: (#143) Virginia Tech 72-68 (#158) Boston College
When Virginia Tech has the ball, we will see what happens when a resistible force meets a movable object. Things will look more normal at the other end of the court where each team is much better. This one may come down to how often Boston College can get to the free throw line, an Eagles’ strength, against a Hokies’ defense that rarely gives opponents a lot of opportunities from the foul line.