Inside the ACC Numbers: Volume VI

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on February 24th, 2017

Here is the latest edition of our weekly review of the current ACC standings and team performances where we focus on which teams are playing better or worse than their records indicate. Each week we delve into advanced metrics to reveal a few interesting teams, player statistics and trends. This week we will look at the most extreme example of home court advantage in the ACC. Finally, we forecast how the final ACC standings may look given current efficiency margins, and what that means for each teams’ postseason aspirations.

Note: All data is current for games played through Wednesday, February 22.

Current Standings

Thanks to Wednesday’s home win over Louisville, North Carolina has now taken the lead in efficiency margin to go along with its two-game cushion in the standings. Efficiency margins confirm that the Tar Heels and the Cardinals are the two best teams in the league, so we should not be surprised if they meet again in the ACC Tournament championship game. If neither squad loses until March 11, one of the NCAA’s #1 seeds would probably be on the line that Saturday night. The standings match up well with efficiency at this point, with two notable exceptions – Virginia has played quite a bit better than its record indicates, while Virginia Tech appears to be very fortunate to be 8-7 in league play. Perhaps the hottest team in the league right now is Miami, as the Hurricanes have posted seven victories in their last nine outings.

Advanced Statistic of the Week: Extreme Home Court Advantage

A few weeks ago, we examined ACC home court advantage through the first half of conference play, noting at the time that Georgia Tech was playing impressive defense in McCamish Pavilion. The table above reveals that no visiting team has been able to reach its conference average points per possession against the Yellow Jackets in Atlant (including five of the six best offenses in the league). To put things in perspective, the average margin of 0.21 PPP equates to Yellow Jackets’ opponents scoring 14.0 points fewer than their average — a full 10 points fewer than the standard deficit for visiting teams in the ACC this season. Even with the league’s worst offense, Georgia Tech has used its dominant defense to pull off a surprising total of seven conference wins (six at home) this season. Much of the credit goes to junior center Ben Lammers, one of the ACC’s most improved players. His rim protection of 3.6 blocks per game has led Georgia Tech to a league-leading two-point field goal defensive rate of 44.1 percent, but Lammers is also receiving help from his teammates on the perimeter — opponents are only sinking 33.2 percent of their three-point attempts against his club.

Future Forecast

The above table shows predicted order of finish with final regular season records based on KenPom’s current win probabilities for each team. Also included are a few comparative rankings that are mentioned frequently when evaluating NCAA Tournament potential, as well as projections from two bracketology experts — ESPN‘s Joe Lunardi and CBS Sports‘ Jerry Palm. Note that while they project the field as if it were named tomorrow, we make our projections based on the final KenPom projected records. At this point, the ACC appears to have eight locks for the NCAA Tournament with Syracuse still on the right side of the bubble after Wednesday night’s buzzer-beating win over Duke. Things are looking bleaker for the rest of the league’s NCAA hopefuls. Wake Forest still lacks a marquee win on its resume and is running out of opportunities to earn one. The rest of the ACC bubble contenders projects to have more than 14 losses on Selection Sunday, which has historically meant a snub in the at-large process.

Brad Jenkins (368 Posts)

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