Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Unanswered ACC Questions & Dart-Throwing Predictions

I'm fascinated by this ACC because its seems like more of an unknown than any season I can remember. Not in the sense that I don't know where teams will finish - that happens every year. But in the sense that I have no idea how good half of these teams actually are. I think I have a pretty good handle on the following teams....

Duke/UNC - Good teams that will finish 1/2. The NCAA Tournament is always something of a crapshoot, so you never know how that will shake out, but both of these teams will be No. 3 seeds or higher.

Georgia Tech/Boston College/Wake Forest/Clemson - Bad teams that simply don't have the talent. I'd put the over/under on conference wins for this group at about 17 total. The only thing keeping BC from being 2010 Wake is that they play 2011 Wake twice.

Virginia Tech - They will forever be a bubble team that builds a resume that puts you right in that 11/12 seed group every season. I full expect an underwhelming 9-7 or 8-8 record with a win over UNC or Duke and another pissed off Seth Greenberg come selection Sunday.

So that's seven teams I mostly get, and five I don't. Here are my big questions about the final group.

Miami/NCSU - Grouping these together because they are very similar. Both seem to have the pieces (Miami does now that Reggie Johnson is back) to win around 10 games in the league. I have no idea if either of them will though. For the sake of the ACC, it would be better if the Wolfpack rose up and claimed that No. 4/5 spot in the league. They have the better OOC resume so they have the best shot at an at-large bid if they get to double-digit wins. The caveat here is that the committee could give Miami something of a pass for their losses - they all came without Johnson on the court.

Maryland - Pomeroy thinks the Terrapins are terrible - on-par-with-Wake terrible. Yet they've managed to claw out a 10-3 record with no terrible losses. The Terps are winning games but their underlying performance is awful. They've had almost no easy wins and have skated by a couple of bad teams by single digits, but they come to Raleigh at 10-3 and just added Alex Len and Pe'Shon Howard into the mix. Both are starting-level players for the Terrapins and give them a depth they didn't have most of November and December. I'm legitimately worried about the Pack winning their game against the Terps on Sunday at this point.

Florida State - Really, FSU? Really?! You return most of the talent from a Sweet 16 team and yet you can't pick up one signature win in your OOC schedule? And you go 0-2 against the Ivy League?! Really?!! I guess we should be used to this by now, FSU just can't score and that leaves them open to upsets. But its the lack of signature wins that's been the real disappoint. I think this is still a good team, but I have no real evidence to back up that claim. The worst thing that can happy for the ACC right now is for FSU to finish 3rd in the league - even with 11 conference win I'm not certain they get an invite to the dance.

Virginia - A 13-1 start is great, but their schedule has been awful. They haven't played a team ranked in the top 40 of Pomeroy's rankings, and their only win over a top 50 team came at home. They had no business losing to TCU on a neutral court and should really be 14-0 right now. I want to believe that this team is legit, that its made the leap to being the 3rd best team in the ACC and that it will play out that way in conference. But like FSU, when you can't score and you play at a snails pace you leave yourself open to getting beat by bad team. That's my fear for Virginia - that they lose a couple of games to the dregs of the ACC and make life tough on the selection committee.

I never make my ACC predictions until right before the season starts, because I like to have as much information as possible. But even with six weeks of games behind us, I have no confidence in these picks:

1. UNC (14-2)
2. Duke (13-3)
3. UVa (11-5)
4. FSU (10-6)
5. NCSU (10-6)
6. Miami (10-6)
7. VT (9-7)
8. Maryland (6-10)
9. Clemson (5-11)
10. GT (4-12)
11. WF (3-13)
12. BC (1-15)

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