ACCBRacket Watch 2/17/19

By Charlie Manolakis

We may still be in the heart of ACC play, but March is right around the corner. With Tom Brady and Trevor Lawrence fading in the rear view mirror, it’s time to take a look at where your favorite fifteen teams stand (sorry, we do have to talk about the other fourteen) with only a few more weeks standing between us and Selection Sunday.

An overarching story this season has been the NCAA’s replacement of the RPI with its shiny new NET rankings and that seems as good a place as any to start.

Like the RPI last season, the NET will be used this year to break each team’s resume into four “quadrants.” While media outlets and “bracketologists” everywhere love to use these quadrants to compare teams (and they should—so does the committee), it’s not always clear where they really come from. So before we get started, let’s take a moment to see how they divide up the ACC.

There are three important cutoffs to keep in mind to figure out which teams the committee will see as “quality” opponents: #30, #75, and #135.

 

1-30: Always Quadrant 1

#2 Duke (23-2, 11-1 ACC)

#3 Virginia (22-2, 10-2)

#9 North Carolina (20-5, 10-2)

#13 Virginia Tech (20-5, 9-4)

#16 Louisville (18-8, 9-4)

#25 Florida State (20-5, 8-4)

 

31-75: Q1 on the Road, Q2 at Home

#31 NC State (18-8, 6-7)

#42 Clemson (15-10, 5-7)

#50 Syracuse (17-8, 8-4)

 

76-135: Q2 on the Road, Q3 at Home

#83 Miami (11-13, 3-9)

#94 Notre Dame (13-12, 3-9)

#102 Pittsburgh (12-14, 2-11)

#118 Georgia Tech (11-15, 3-10)

#131 Boston College (12-11, 3-8)

 

160-240: Q3 on the Road, Q4 at Home

#197 Wake Forest (9-15, 2-10)

 

One important note is that we still have a month left to go and these rankings shift every day. While this is great news for everyone working to put the finishing touches on their tournament cases, we’ll see in a moment that how your past opponents finish can be just as impactful to your resume.

Given the sizeable gap (in NET ranking as well as wins and losses) between the top nine teams and the remaining six, it should come as little surprise that they are the only teams still being considered for an at-large bid to the big dance. Before we dive into each team, here’s where everyone—from number-crunchers, to major-media outlets, to the NCAA’s seeding committee itself—currently sees them landing on the bracket.

Avg NCAA Haslam KPI BracketMatrix Jerry Palm (CBS)
Duke 1 1 1 1 1 1
Virginia 1 1 1 1 1 1
UNC 2.4 2 3 3 2 2
Louisville 5.4 4 7 6 4 6
Florida St 5.5 5 6 6 5
Virginia Tech 6.3 6 7 6 6
Syracuse 9.5 10 9 9 10
NC State 10.7* 12 OUT 10 10
Clemson 12* 12 OUT 12 12

 

#2 Duke (current projected seed: 1)

Current resume:  23-2 (11-1, 1st in ACC)

 vs Q1: 7-1 (4 remaining: UNC, @Syracuse, @Virginia Tech, @UNC)

vs Q2: 7-1

vs Q3: 5-0 (1 remaining: Miami)

vs Q4: 4-0 (1 remaining: @Wake Forest)

 

Your new favorite team

#62 Yale: The Blue Devils’ 91-58 win stays Q2 if Yale holds their spot in the top 75.

 

NCAA Outlook: Mike Krzyzewski’s Fab Four freshman certainly still have plenty of work left to do in a competitive ACC, but have long since locked up a top seed in this year’s field. If they “fall” on Selection Sunday, it won’t be past the 2 line.

 

#3 Virginia (current projected seed: 1)

Current resume:  22-2 (10-2, T-2nd in ACC)

 vs Q1:  7-2 (4 remaining: @Virginia Tech, @Louisville, @Syracuse, Louisville)

vs Q2:  5-0

vs Q3:  2-0 (2 remaining: Georgia Tech, Pittsburgh)

vs Q4:  8-0

 

Your new favorite teams

The Hoos can hang onto a Q1 win if #25 Florida State stays in the top 30, and can add another Q2 win to their resume if #83 Miami is able to climb to #75.

NCAA Outlook: Much like Duke, the Hoos have been one of the best teams in the nation all season long and will have little to worry about as far as the tournament is concerned until they learn which 15- or 16-seed they’ll want to start scouting.

 

#9 North Carolina (current projected seed: 2.4)

Current resume:  20-5 (10-2, T-2nd in ACC)

 vs Q1:  5-5 (4 remaining: @Duke, Florida St, @Clemson, Duke)

vs Q2:  5-0 (2 remaining: Syracuse, @Boston College)

vs Q3:  6-0

vs Q4:  4-0

 

Your new favorite team

#69 Davidson: UNC’s five Q2 wins are key to the strength of its resume and the Wildcats can help the Tar Heels hang on to one of those while chasing their first A-10 regular season title since 2015.

NCAA Outlook: The Tar Heels won’t have to worry about making the field of 68, but took a few more lumps in the non-conference than their compatriots atop the ACC. They could still slide further down the bracket than either Duke or Virginia would with an unsteady finish though a single win against Duke would make that nearly impossible. They’re also talented enough to get hot, snag an ACC banner or two and sneak on to the 1 line. The sooner Nassir Little, Leaky Black, and Sterling Manley are able to return to full health, the deeper and more versatile this team can be down the stretch.

 

#16 Louisville (current projected seed: 5.4)

Current resume:  18-8 (9-4, T-4th in ACC)

 vs Q1:  4-7 (3 remaining: @Syracuse, Virginia, @Virginia)

vs Q2:  5-1 (1 remaining: @Boston College)

vs Q3:  5-0 (1 remaining: Notre Dame)

vs Q4:  4-0

 

Your new favorite teams

#37 Lipscomb rated as a Q1 win up until their loss to Liberty knocked them out of the top 30 earlier this week. They can bolster the Cardinals’ already impressive resume (not to mention their own. I wouldn’t want to be the P5 team that draws Lipscomb in the round of 64) if they can string together a few more impressive wins down the stretch. Cardinal fans will be pulling for #66 Vermont to hang onto their Q2 status in the top 75 as well.

 

NCAA Outlook: I can’t think of many more unenviable ways to end the regular season than playing Virginia twice in the last two weeks. After (somehow) holding on yesterday for an important win against Clemson, they will be looking to find a way to clean up their end-game execution in their upcoming trip to Syracuse. Depending how other leagues shake out, the Cards could sneak into borderline 3-seed consideration with a win against the Hoos and a nice run through the ACC tournament. Their schedule is also tough enough they could drop three or four, lose their ACCT opener, and find themselves staring down the barrel of a much tougher NCAA draw. If I had to guess, I like the Cards to land around a 5, maybe a 4 if they can steal one against UVA.

 

#25 Florida State (current projected seed: 5.5)

Current resume:  20-5 (8-4, T-6th in ACC)

 vs Q1:  4-3 (3 remaining: @Clemson, @UNC, Virginia Tech)

vs Q2:  5-2 (1 remaining: NC State)

vs Q3:  4-0 (2 remaining: Notre Dame, @Wake Forest)

vs Q4:  7-0

 

Your new favorite teams

I’m going to apologize in advance, Seminole fans, but the two teams with the best chance to improve your squad’s resume are #31 NC State and (*ducks*) the #40 Florida Gators, who Leonard Hamilton & crew steamrolled 81-60 on opening night. Both will have ample opportunity to play their way into the top 30 and help pad an already impressive Q1 record by Selection Sunday.

NCAA Outlook: With a more manageable final seven games than many of the rest in the upper half of the ACC standings, the stage is set for the ‘Noles to complete their remarkable turnaround and secure not just a double bye for the ACC tourney, but also a well deserved 4ish seed for the NCAA stage.

 

#13 Virginia Tech (current projected seed: 6.3)

Current resume:  20-5 (9-4, T-4th in ACC)

 vs Q1:  3-5 (3 remaining: Virginia, Duke, @Florida St)

vs Q2:  5-0 (1 remaining: @Notre Dame)

vs Q3:  4-0 (1 remaining: Miami)

vs Q4:  8-0

Your new favorite teams

#70 Penn State beat the Hokies 63-62 back in November and their resume will benefit if the Nittany Lions can hang onto the top-75 and keep that L in Q1. This becomes more important when you consider the ups and downs they’re going through without Justin Robinson.

Neutral site wins against #103 Ball State and #97 Northeastern can also both bolster the Hokies Q2 resume if they are able to finish in the top 100. (Because of course the quadrant lines are completely different for neutral site games too.)

NCAA Outlook: Unless the Hokies completely crash and burn, which I certainly don’t expect them to, they won’t have any bubble worries. They’ve received tough 8-9 draws the last two years with Wisconsin (who knocked off 1-seed Villanova two days later) and Alabama (against a lottery pick in Collin Sexton) and finally look to have the talent this season to do some damage on the national stage. They’ve looked vulnerable at times without Robinson though and will be hoping for a strong finish to help lock them into the 4-6 range and keep them away from the top seeds until the second weekend.

 

#50 Syracuse (current projected seed: 9.5)

Current resume:  17-8 (8-4, T-6th in ACC)

 vs Q1:  2-4 (5 remaining: Louisville, Duke, @UNC, Virginia, @Clemson)

vs Q2:  4-2

vs Q3:  7-2 (1 remaining: @Wake Forest)

vs Q4:  4-0

 

Your new favorite teams

#79 Georgetown, #84 Miami, and #86 Old Dominion are all within striking distance of cracking the NET’s top 75 and moving three of the Oranges Q3 games (two wins, and a costly Q3 loss to ODU) to Q2. On the flip side, #130 Boston College dropping back below 135 or a floundering #82 UConn slipping out of the top 100 would both do the opposite, and send two Q2 results (a win and a loss) to the Q3 pile.

NCAA Outlook: Hold on tight, kids. Syracuse sits at 8-4 in the league and are projected comfortably in the field of 68. After their 15 point loss to NC State Wednesday night, the Orange still have yet to beat a tournament-caliber team since their win at Duke a month ago. With five such foes among their final six, Syracuse will have more than enough chances to prove their worth to the selection committee. They will have to do it against the most demanding schedule any ACC team has remaining. Are they capable? Absolutely. However, they could just as easily find themselves sitting squarely on the bubble for the 500th year in a row, or maybe it’s only been five.

 

#31 NC State (projected seed: 10.7)

Current resume:  18-8 (6-7, 8th in ACC)

 vs Q1:  1-7 (1 remaining: @Florida State)

vs Q2:  6-0 (1 remaining: @Boston College)

vs Q3:  2-1 (2 remaining: Boston College, Georgia Tech)

vs Q4:  9-0 (1 remaining: @Wake Forest)

 

Your new favorite teams

#24 Auburnthe Wolfpack’s only Q1 win to date, would do State’s resume a huge favor by hanging onto their spot in the top 30 despite their disappointing start to SEC play. Within the ACC, #84 Miami (if they can reach the top 75) and #42 Clemson (more of a stretch, but still within reach of the top 30) could also move two more Pack wins up to the Q1 line ahead of Selection Sunday.

NCAA Outlook: Last week was exactly the turnaround NC State needed. The loss at Duke was obviously less than Keatts and his squad were hoping for. But after blowing out Syracuse in Raleigh, if the Wolfpack can capitalize on the four winnable games left on their schedule, their only concerns heading into the selection show should be “who,” not “if.” Unless they can knock off Florida State and a couple teams in the ACC tourney, they likely won’t climb much higher than a 9 or 10 seed. But with the offensive firepower they possess, this team could be a scary matchup for whatever “favorite” they wind up paired against. Not to mention for the top-3 seed waiting in the second round.

 

#42 Clemson (projected seed: 12)

Current resume:  (5-7, 9th in ACC)

 vs Q1:  1-7 (2 remaining Florida St, UNC)

vs Q2:  3-3 (3 remaining: @Pittsburgh, @Notre Dame, Syracuse)

vs Q3:  5-0 (1 remaining: Boston College)

vs Q4:  6-0

Your new favorite teams

The Tigers 84-67 win against #37 Lipscomb would be Q1 if the Bisons (they say it with an “s”, I promise) can climb back into the top 30.

All three of Clemson’s Q2 losses—against #38 Nebraska (home), #59 Creighton (neutral), and #84 Miami (away)—are within eight or nine NET slots of jumping up to the Q1 line as well.

NCAA Outlook: Wednesday night was not a great one for the Tiger faithful. A tough loss in Coral Gables would have been frustrating enough if it weren’t also paired with one of their only two Q1 wins (Lipscomb) losing as well and slipping down to Q2. That they’re still projected on the plus-side of most brackets is certainly a positive and their schedule will give them the opportunities they need to play their way to an at-large. Road trips to Pittsburgh and South Bend are probably the biggest potential traps standing between Clemson and their chance to secure a place in the field without needing to make some noise in the ACC tourney.

 


 

Thanks to the following for sharing their ‘bracketology’ expertise:

Erik Haslam – haslametrics.com

Kevin Pauga – kpisports.net

Jerry Palm – cbssports.com

And everyone who contributes to The Bracket Project at bracketmatrix.com

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