Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, February 22, 2012 at 9:49 PM
There have been two shocking results at the top of the ACC this season. Florida State absolutely annihilated North Carolina at home in a way that nobody thought was possible. Then, Florida State went on the road and stunned Duke at Cameron Indoor. If the Seminoles could have just kept their heads on straight in other league games, they could have already wrapped the conference!
The rematch of that FSU-Duke thriller goes Thursday Night in Tallahassee in a game to be nationally televised by ESPN. That makes this the perfect time to get caught up with these teams and the ACC picture in general.
TOP OF THE ACC
North Carolina: 11-2
Florida State: 10-2 (currently owns any tie-breaker with NC/Duke)
Duke: 10-2 (currently owns any tie-breaker with NC)
NC State: 7-6
North Carolina’s reign at the top of the league will be short-lived. They went to 11-2 Tuesday Night with a win at NC State. But, SOMEBODY is going to win Duke-Florida State…and that team will also be 11-2 and hold a tie-breaker edge over Carolina. North Carolina only drew FSU once on this year’s schedule, so they can’t do anything about that tie-breaker other than win out and hope for the best. North Carolina will finish the regular season at Duke on March 3rd. A win in Durham would slide them ahead of the Blue Devils if both teams win their other games.
Seeding could be very important in terms of the ACC tournament. The #1 seed won’t have to face the other two teams until the final. The other two teams will have to face each other in the semi’s…followed by the top seed in the finals. Brutal. It would be fun to see North Carolina and Duke playing in the semifinals for the right to play Florida State!
You can see in the standings that it’s still a “big three” in the ACC, as was the case the last time we checked in. Virginia has a nice team that could pull off a surprise in the ACC tournament. Miami beat Duke at Duke. We’re not currently expecting big things in the Dance from those last three teams mentioned above. Let’s see what Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology at ESPN has to say about projected seedings…
North Carolina: projected 2nd seed
Duke: projected 2nd seed
Florida State: projected 4th seed
Virginia: projected 8th seed
Miami: 12th seed
NC State: barely out
Lunardi has NC State as the first team out right now, which gives them plenty of opportunity to win their way into the Big Dance.
Should Florida State beat Duke Thursday Night, and win out in the regular season, they’ll have made a very good case for a seed better than #4. How can you sweep NC and Duke yet be seeded worse than those teams in the Dance?! Well, given the way this sport and the media protects North Carolina and Duke…anything’s possible.
Virginia is in comfortably as an 8th seed. That would mean a coin flip first round game followed by a second rounder against a #1 seed. Can the Cavs beat a #1 seed? They just lost by 18 points at Carolina recently, which is a bad sign. Let’s see what they do Saturday in a very important return engagement at home. We can run a mini-preview on that game in today’s report as well since it will loom large in the conference race.
We always like to check in on the computer rankings to see how they line up with the Bracketology stuff. Here’s what Ken Pomeroy and Jeff Sagarin of USA Today have to say about the ACC teams we’ve listed so far…
ACC COMPUTER RANKINGS
North Carolina (7th in Pomeroy, 6th in Sagarin)
Duke (12th in Pomeroy, 9th in Sagarin)
Virginia: (21st in Pomeroy, 24th in Sagarin)
Florida State (23rd in Pomeroy, 23rd in Sagarin)
Miami: (44th in Pomeroy, 48th in Sagarin)
NC State (57th in Pomeroy, 53rd in Sagarin)
Maybe we should take more of a look at Virginia! The computer composite actually has them fractionally ahead of Florida State. Those two have played once this year, with FSU winning a 58-55 battle at home. That margin reflects the value of home court advantage, so those teams graded out even at least in that game. The computers say they’re even for the season.
That leaves us with a conundrum.
*Bracketology has FSU as a projected #4 seed…but they could make a case for better given their results vs. North Carolina and Duke.
*The computers have FSU projected as more like a 5th or 6th seed, and not even currently in the top three within their own league!
That can happen with teams like FSU who get sky high for their biggest games and play great…but then lose focus occasionally elsewhere and stub their toe (which FSU did in a way they truly regret at Boston College). This is another reason Thursday’s Duke-FSU game is so big. It will help better define where FSU belongs in the big picture.
Let’s note that the computers don’t have Duke as a #2 seed either. Well, Sagarin almost does, while Pomeroy has them at the back end of a three. Had Duke not rallied for their miracle win at Carolina, they’d probably be a universal #3. A bad performance tonight…and it’s hard to see anyone making a case for Duke as a #2 seed in a couple of weeks.
Oh, the computers say that North Carolina at Virginia on Saturday could be just as entertaining, and possibly just as important as Duke-FSU tonight. Virginia grades out as a #6 type seed…and could easily float up there in Bracketology should they upset the Tar Heels.
Okay…that’s the big picture, let’s crunch some indicator numbers for the game you’ll be handicapping Thursday afternoon, and watching Thursday Night on ESPN…
ADJUSTED DEFENSIVE EFFICIENCY
Duke: 61st in the nation
Florida State: 5th in the nation
Duke has made some big strides on defense. The last time we ran a matchup for them, then were 91st in this stat heading into the North Carolina game. For you newcomers, “Adjusted Defensive Efficiency” is available for all teams at kenpom.com. It’s simply points allowed per possession adjusted for strength of schedule. It’s better to look at “per possession” numbers because tempo can create illusions on both sides of the ball.
Of course, Florida State has one of the elite defenses in the whole nation. That’s how they beat people. Defense never slumps…which gives you a chance to win every game. The question for the Dance is…does FSU have enough of an offense to string together victories vs. quality opposition?
ADJUSTED OFFENSIVE EFFICIENCY
Duke: 4th in the nation
Florida State: 111th in the nation
It’s easy to like Florida State as a value team in a one-game showdown vs. anybody. But, it’s much harder to like them as a team that can reach the Elite Eight or better in the NCAA Tournament. Having a great defense but a mediocre offense leads to too many coin flip games in neutral site scenarios. Tough to win all the coin flips.
We’re really looking forward too seeing the fourth rated Duke offense face the fifth rated FSU defense. The TV schedule hasn’t exactly been loaded with things to get excited about the past several days. This is a game to pay attention to!
Florida State 98th
Did you know FSU graded out as a relatively quick team? That gives you a sense of how great the defense. They’ve popped some low numbers in games that were faster-paced than people realized. And, having two teams in the top third of the nation’s pace factor should provide a fun game for fans to watch tonight.
It’s possible that Duke-Florida State is going to show up as a major release for JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK Thursday. There’s a better chance that it will be part of a TV Parlay. Also under consideration are Wisconsin-Iowa, BYU-Gonzaga, Louisville-Cincinnati, Knicks-Heat, and Lakers-Thunder. A great night to be on the couch!
Game day releases always go up here at the website a few hours before first tip. We have great seasonal packages available as well that take you through March Madness. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453.
Back with you Friday to catch up with the Ivy League (no NBA through the weekend because of the All-Star Game). Saturday we’ll get caught up in the Big East with Syracuse-UCONN being the GameDay spot (continuing ESPN’s bad luck for finding disappointing hosts). The buzz is starting to build…MARCH MADNESS IS JUST A FEW DAYS AWAY! LET’S GO MAKE SOME MONEY!