Rating the ACC

It's January, which means its time for the ACC season to get into full swing. Most teams have just one or two nonconference opponents left on the schedule, while NC State is completely finished with nonconference play.

So, before league foes starting beating each other up, let's take a look at where teams stand using the Pomeroy rankings on kenpom.com. The rankings use offensive and defensive efficiency statistics to rank teams. A full explanation of these numbers can be found here. From here on we'll be referencing the adjusted defense and offensive efficiency rankings when discussing offense and defense. The adjusted rankings attempt to take into account strength of schedule.

Another tool on Ken Pomeroy's site is the schedule predictions, which gives a predicted final record. It also shows the percentage chance of a team winning any particular game. Duke, for example, is given a 97 percent chance of beating Wake Forest at home this season. We'll throw in these predicted finishes just to give an idea of how things could play out in the final two months.

NOTE: Wednesday night's games are not accounted for in the ratings or records. The respective ranking is represented next to the program name. Links to the school's kenpom website is accessible by clicking the college name.

#2 North Carolina
Current record:
12-1, 0-0 ACC
Predicted record: 27-4, 13-3

Carolina is one of just two three teams, along with Texas A&M and UCLA, that ranks in the top-10 in both offense and defense. The Tar Heels resume is surprisingly similar to the Devils, with a couple of good neutral court wins and one loss to a top-50 ranked team. The difference comes in the flashes of dominance the Heels display, while Duke has yet to blow a decent opponent off the court.

#5 Duke
Current record:
13-1, 0-0
Predicted record:
26-5, 12-4

While most observers agree this isn't the same caliber Duke team that we are used to seeing, the stats still rate them as one of the five best teams in the country. The Devils are here mostly because of their defense, which ranks as the best in the nation. Their offense is rated the lowest for a Duke team since Pomeroy started keeping the statistic in 2004.

#15 Maryland
Current record:
13-2, 0-1
Predicted record:
24-7, 10-6

The Terrapins have the best nonconference road resume of any ACC team, with wins over Illinois and Michigan State. They've already dropped one conference road game though, to Boston College. Another team getting by with outstanding defense, Maryland ranks sixth in the nation in defensive efficiency but just 68th on offense.

#23 Georgia Tech
Current record:
10-3, 0-1
Predicted record:
20-10, 9-7

The first of three ACC teams bunched together in the mid-20s. The Yellow Jackets spoiled a great run in the Maui Invitational with back-to-back road losses against Miami and Vanderbilt to start December. They have the second-best offense of any team in the league behind UNC, and their defense ranks in the top 50 in efficiency as well. And as good as they've been, this is still a very young, talented team with a lot of room for improvement.

#24 Clemson
Current record:
14-0
Predicted record: 23-7, 9-7

The Pomeroy rankings believe Clemson is for real, with three pretty good road wins to go along with two big nonconference home wins. They have one of the top-15 rated defenses in the nation and an offense that rates just out of the top 50. The Tigers might have the toughest schedule in the league though - four of the five teams they play twice are in the top-45 according to Pomeroy. Boston College isn't exactly a push over either.

#27 Virginia Tech
Current record:
9-4, 1-0
Predicted record: 20-10, 10-6

After sputtering to a 4-3 start, critics quickly wrote off the Hokies. But none of those three losses were ‘bad', all away from home and against top-100 Pomeroy ranked opponents. Since then Virginia Tech has rolled off five straight wins before losing on the road at Marshall. The 10-6 predicted conference finish is also a product of the schedule – they play home-and-home with the worst three teams according to Pomeroy ranking.

#45 Florida State
Current record:
12-2, 0-0
Predicted record: 20-10, 8-8

It might be another bubble year for the Seminoles, though a nonconference win over Florida will go a long way when it comes selection time. Two road losses to good teams – Pittsburgh and Wisconsin, are the only blemishes so far. The ‘Noles are a balanced team, ranking near the top 50 in both offense and defense. An easier second-half of the schedule could help their NCAA case as well.

#60 Boston College
Current record:
8-4, 1-0
Predicted record: 16-13, 7-9

No team outside of Miami has a worse loss than Boston College's slip-up against Duquesne at home last Thursday. The Eagles dropped nearly 20 spots in the rankings, and it's the second ‘bad' home loss for the team this season. They do have an excuse; the team is playing without Jared Dudley right now, who ranked as the best offensive player in the league. Still, the Eagles need to protect home court a lot better if they want to go dancing in March.

#90 Virginia
Current record:
8-3, 1-0
Predicted record: 14-15, 5-11

This is where things get ugly, as Pomeroy sees the bottom four teams as having very little chance in a deep ACC. The Cavaliers had a disastrous holiday in Puerto Rico, dropping games to Appalachian State and Utah on back-to-back nights. Those two losses appropriately drag down their rankings, basically turning them from a Florida State into a Wake Forest. Their offensive and defensive numbers are very similar to NC State's, at 65 and 132 respectively.

#94 Wake Forest
Current record:
8-5, 0-1
Predicted record: 13-16, 4-12

Wake was really hurt by a four-game stretch starting at the end of November. The Deacons played four top-40 RPI teams in a row, three of those games on the road, and lost every one. If Wake had pulled out just one of those games, this team would look lot more like Boston College and a lot less like Miami.

#96 NC State
Current record:
10-4, 0-1
Predicted record: 14-15, 4-12

The Wolfpack has no wins outside of Raleigh, and has played the easiest schedule of any team in the league to date. To put it in perspective, Tuesday's win over UNCG was the Pack's 2nd best victory by Pomeroy ranking. Like Boston College, the system doesn't care that NC State has played with only six guys and without its senior point guard for much of the year. A look at the scouting report shows the Pack to be a decent offense (70th) but a very middle-of-the-road defense (140th). It also sheds light on why Gavin Grant has struggled lately. He's playing 92% of the time, the eighth highest figure in the nation.

#114 Miami
Current record:
8-7, 1-0
Predicted record: 11-19, 4-12

No ACC team has struggled as much as Miami to start the year, as they come in with the worst record and Pomeroy ranking in the league. Yet they somehow pulled out a win at home against Georgia Tech in December, and the prediction has them beating Wake Forest (57%), NC State (58%) and Virginia (54%) at home. They could just as easily lose out.


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