Inside the ACC Numbers: Volume V

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on February 15th, 2018

Here is the latest edition of our weekly view at the current ACC standings with a focus on which teams are playing better or worse than their conference records may indicate. We will also delve into some advanced metrics to share a few interesting notes on teams, statistics, and trends around the conference. This week we compare home versus road performance by each ACC school and showcase some extreme team offensive and defensive differences based on game location. Finally, we will forecast how the final ACC standings may look given current efficiency margins and what that may mean for teams’ ultimate postseason aspirations.

Note: All numbers are current for games played through Tuesday, February 13.

Current Standings

Louisville has clearly benefited from playing the softest ACC schedule to date, but the Cardinals’ remaining slate of games — three road trips plus home dates with North Carolina and Virginia — will be very challenging. David Padgett‘s team may need to win at least two of those five to solidify its inclusion in the NCAA Tournament. On the other hand, NC State has faced a brutal ACC schedule to this point but will have a much easier road down the stretch with only one remaining contest against a team with a winning ACC record.

Without Pittsburgh

This table is definitely a better measure of relative team strength within the league. At this point, Pittsburgh is finished with its four home-and-home opponents — Duke, Louisville, Syracuse and Miami — all of which have a much worse points per possession margin (PPM) when removing the hapless Panthers.

Advanced Stat of the Week: Home Sweet Home

Over the last decade, we have experienced a slight downward trend in home court advantage nationally. However, a shift has occurred as home teams across the country are winning 61.6 percent of their conference games — the highest such mark since the 2008-09 campaign. As a league, the ACC at 63.5 percent is above the norm, but that’s a big drop from a year ago when home teams triumphed 68.9 percent of the time — tops among the nation’s 32 conferences. Below we compare how each ACC squad is performing this season depending on game location.

Notre Dame‘s huge disparity in home versus road performance is entirely because of its ability to more easily score in the Joyce Center. Note that the Irish’s defensive PPM difference (-0.06) is identical to the league average. Tobacco Road ‘rivals’ North Carolina and NC State are also distinctly superior on the offensive end when they perform at home. On the other hand, Clemson becomes almost Virginia-like when it is playing defense in Littlejohn Coliseum versus its offense mirroring that of the ACC as a whole. Speaking of Virginia, check out the job that the Cavaliers’ defense is doing in opposing venues. They say that defense travels and the one that belongs to Tony Bennett most certainly does.

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 was to be named tomorrow, we make our projections based on the final KenPom projected records. This past Sunday, the NCAA selection committee released its current top-four seed rankings and the ACC was well represented with four schools landing among the top 12. The committee currently puts Virginia as the top overall seed in the South Region, while other ACC squads in the projected upper quadrant of the field include Duke (#7 overall, East #2 seed), Clemson (#9, Midwest #3 seed) and North Carolina (#12, West #3 seed). When the Blue Devils travel to Clemson this weekend, there may be more on the line than just second place in the league standings. The winner will have a leg up over the other (at least temporarily) in becoming the East Region’s #2 seed, but also at gaining preferred placement (Charlotte) for the First and Second Rounds of the NCAA Tourney.

Brad Jenkins (321 Posts)

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