Explaining the Coastal Division race

Five of the six teams in the ACC's Coastal Division, including Miami, still have a chance of playing in Tampa for the conference title in a few weeks. Lets take a look at the whole situation.

There are six teams in the ACC's Coastal Division and here are the current standings:

Georgia Tech 5-3
Miami 4-3
North Carolina 3-3
Virginia Tech 3-3
Virginia 3-3
Duke 1-5

One of the most common questions I've heard today, following Miami's loss to Georgia Tech last night, is what needs to happen for the Hurricanes to have a chance of getting into the conference title game.

Lets start with what we know for sure -- Georgia Tech has clinched at least a tie at the top. Duke is eliminated. The loser of next Saturday's Virginia @ Virginia Tech game will be eliminated. All five teams ahead of Duke still have a chance.

What has to happen for the Hurricanes? First, they must beat N.C. State next Saturday to have a chance. If they lose to the Wolfpack, they'll be eliminated. Including Miami's game against N.C. State, there are six games remaining that will count towards the final standings:

This week's games are: N.C. State @ UNC, Duke @ Virginia Tech, and Clemson @ Virginia. Next week's games are: Miami @ NC State, UNC @ Duke, and Virginia @ Virginia Tech.

The only way the Hurricanes will have a chance is if there's three or more teams tied at the top of the division. That's because if they were tied with only Georgia Tech, the Yellow Jackets would have the edge because they won the head-to-head matchup.

Another way the Hurricanes would be eliminated is if North Carolina ends up being the third team tied because that would mean the Hurricanes would've lost to the two other tied teams.

In other words, Miami needs to be involved in a three-way tie with someone other than North Carolina. That leaves two other possibilities -- being tied with Georgia Tech and Virginia or being tied with Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech.

The first tie-breaker is head to head competition. Whether it's Virginia or Virginia Tech, the three teams would all be 1-1 against each other so it would go to the second tie-breaker, which is the record within the division. Georgia Tech is 2-3. Miami is 3-2. Virginia Tech's record, if they are the third tied team, would be 4-1, making them the Coastal Division champs. Virginia, on the otherhand, would be 2-3 along with Georgia Tech, which would send Miami to the conference title game.

I know that's confusing but that's what it is right now -- very much so. To put all this simply, the Canes need to win next Saturday, hope either NC State (tomorrow) or Duke (next week) knocks off North Carolina, and hope that Virginia beats both Clemson (tomorrow) and Virginia Tech (next week). Any other scenario would send someone other than Miami to Tampa.

If the Canes can't take care of N.C. State next Saturday, none of this even matters to Miami fans. So that is far and away the top priority -- take care of your own business. In the meantime, however, as a fan, it's nice to know what potentially needs to happen as far as getting help. And that help, for Miami, would come in the form of Virginia winning out and North Carolina losing one more.

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