Inside the ACC Numbers: Volume III

Posted by Brad Jenkins on February 7th, 2019

Here’s another 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 evaluate how ACC teams are performing on the road versus how well they play in the cozy confines of their home gyms. Finally, we will forecast how the final league 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 5.

Current Standings

The ACC has a top tier of four teams in efficiency margin with Virginia still comfortably leading the way. It will be interesting to see how the ACC’s upcoming schedule shakes things up. The Cavaliers start a pivotal three-day stretch with Saturday’s home game with Duke, followed by a quick turnaround trip to Chapel Hill to take on red-hot North Carolina team on Monday night. Louisville is also staring at a difficult two-game slate over the next seven days — the Cardinals visit Florida State on Saturday before taking on Duke at home on Tuesday evening. Syracuse has been the most fortunate squad in the first half of ACC play this season. At 7-3, Jim Boeheim’s team is already four games above .500 despite barely outscoring its opponents. Looking at the bottom of the conference, Wake Forest has been the league’s worst performing team by a wide margin, but the Demon Deacons have managed to post a similar record to the five schools directly above them. That’s because Wake Forest has gone 2-1 in ACC games that were decided by four points or fewer. In their other seven outings, the Deacs have been beaten by double-figures.

Advanced Statistic of the Week: Home Sweet Home in the ACC

Here’s a look at how teams are performing at home compared with how they play on the road. Overall, home court advantage in the ACC has been minimal this year — home teams have triumphed in just 55.7 percent of games (for comparison, the ACC historical league average is over 60 percent) and are only outscoring visitors by about one point per contest. However, there are plenty of extreme cases to be found among individual schools.

Brad Brownell’s Clemson club has been a home court hero to date in league play, posting huge differences in offensive and defensive efficiency depending on location. Virginia Tech has been dramatically better when playing in Cassell Coliseum this season, as the Hokies’ offense hums in Blacksburg — logging 16.5 points per possession (PPP) above the ACC average. Their defense, however, performs roughly equivalent regardless of location.

NC State is another interesting case — the Wolfpack have the biggest discrepancy in both their offense and defense depending on where the game is played. Unfortunately for Kevin Keatts, though, only one of those extremes is desirable. NC State’s defense at home is 0.14 PPP better than on the road, but its offense mitigates the impact by being worse by 0.16 PPP. Of course, last Saturday’s embarrassing 47-24 performance versus Virginia Tech skews those metrics. Now that we are halfway through league play, it is very surprising that three teams are 0.12 PPP worse at home than they are on the road. Part of the reason that Louisville and North Carolina are among that group is because they each exchanged whippings on the other’s home floor. In Notre Dame’s case, the numbers are largely the result of its schedule — the Irish have suffered drubbings to both Virginia and Duke in South Bend.

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. Not only has NC State completely fallen out of the national polls, the Wolfpack are also sliding down the NCAA seed lines. On the other hand, North Carolina’s impressive recent play has led to the Tar Heels soaring up the projected brackets. It appears that Virginia Tech will be without star point guard Justin Robinson for awhile, so the Hokies may be in danger of tumbling a few more spots in these projections.

Brad Jenkins (383 Posts)

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