Inside the ACC Numbers: Volume II

Posted by Brad Jenkins on January 24th, 2020

This is the second 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. 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 Wednesday, January 22.

Current Standings

Looking at the current standings, there are three tiers of teams at or above .500 in conference play. At the top, Duke holds a significant advantage over Florida State and Louisville in efficiency margin, but that margin is largely because the Blue Devils have played the weakest schedule in the ACC thus far — beating four bottom-dwellers by over 30 points each. Among the three schools with 5-3 records, Syracuse is playing the best basketball on a per-possession basis, thanks in great part to the Orange’s acumen on the road (more on that below). Virginia is the only team sporting a 4-4 league mark that has a positive efficiency margin, but the Cavaliers have struggled in close games, dropping all four contests by fewer than eight points. Miami looks like the ACC’s worst squad from an efficiency standpoint, but nobody has faced the ominous slate of conference games that the Hurricanes have to date. Miami has already met Duke and Louisville twice, and lost to Florida State in overtime last Saturday.

Advanced Statistic of the Week: Home Court Advantage?

Things are not going as expected for host teams in the ACC this year. With 39 percent of league games already in the books, visiting squads are winning more than half of the time. The chart above shows how ACC home court advantage has worked over the last seven seasons. The national average for home court winning percentage has hovered around 60 percent in recent years and is at 59.9 percent so far in 2020. The ACC is clearly the outlier among major conferences this year – all other Power Six leagues have a home floor winning rate of over 63 percent (including the Big Ten’s incredible 80 percent).

The chart above shows how ACC squads are performing on the road compared to when they are the home team. Despite the overall success of visiting teams, only two league schools are worse at home on a per-possession basis. Syracuse is 1-3 at the Carrier Dome but is undefeated (4-0) on the road because it has the ACC’s top offense in other league venues. Conversely, Georgia Tech has yet to triumph in Atlanta in four tries. For some reason, the Yellow Jackets allow opposing offenses to score 0.10 points per possession higher in McCamish Pavilion than they do when they are on the road. Notre Dame is another team that has not defended its home floor effectively, losing all three league games in South Bend. Actually, it’s not so much a league-wide issue as much as it is that we have three schools with extreme home/road performance swings. Syracuse, Georgia Tech and Notre Dame are a combined 1-10 at home, yet 9-4 on the road.

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. There’s still a long way to go, but right now it’s not looking good for the ACC to place its usual allotment of teams in the NCAA Tournament. In the last week, NC State improved its postseason hopes by beating Clemson in Raleigh and taking down Virginia on the road. After reeling off four straight league wins, Syracuse is getting close to entering the NCAA Tourney conversation. Virginia is in desperate need of some impressive wins to get its resume back in order. The Cavaliers have four remaining chances against the ACC’s top three teams, and they may need at least a split in those contests to warrant serious at-large consideration.

Brad Jenkins (383 Posts)

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