Deep Dive – Men’s Basketball

Deep Dive

Mid-February and the ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament in Charlotte is just over a month away. Time to get serious about where teams stand, how they’re ranked and where they are projected in brackets. Thus, a deep dive into the AP Top 25, Coaches’ Poll, NCAA NET Rankings, KenPom Ratings, ESPN’s BPI and Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology.

The first place to look is where everyone looks each week and that’s the polls. There are six teams from the ACC that hold a spot in the top 25. The top two conference teams are Duke and Virginia who hold spots in the top 5. This is the case for all of the other points of reference used herein as well.

When it comes to the NCAA Tournament projected bracket both the Blue Devils and Cavaliers have a firm grip on their respective #1 seedings. Only a crash and burn scenario could unseat either of these teams from those top spots at this point. To say that’s highly unlikely may be a bit of an understatement, however stranger things have happened.

Deep Dive – Men’s Basketball


AP Top 25/USA Today Coaches’ Poll

  • #2/2 Duke
  • #4/4 Virginia
  • #8/8 North Carolina
  • #16/20 Louisville
  • #22/16 Virginia Tech
  • #17/19 Florida State
  • RV Clemson #33 (AP), NC State #36 (USA), Syracuse #38 (USA)

Virginia Tech took the biggest hit in both polls. The Hokies dropped 11 places in the AP and 6 spots in the Coaches’ Poll. The loss of Justin Robinson (indefinite at this juncture) has put a big dent in the team’s performance. Outside of Robinson’s return there are two keys to the Hokies getting back in stride.

Freshman Jonathan Kabongo will have to step up his game and show Coach Buzz Williams that he can shoulder some, if not all of Robinson’s contributions. It’s also important that Kerry Blackshear focus on playing a less foul prone game. Blackshear’s importance to the team cannot be understated and when he sits out critical minutes due to foul trouble it hurts the Hokies.


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Nine conference teams are in the magic parameters of the NCAA NET Rankings. Duke and Virginia, once again populate the top 5 to lead ACC teams. The top team? Gonzaga holds that illustrious position while Tennessee comes in at #4 and Kentucky is at #5. How are the rest of the conference teams lined up?

Deep Dive – Men’s Basketball


NCAA NET Rankings (Through 2/10)

  • #2 Duke
  • #3 Virginia
  • #9 North Carolina
  • #14 Virginia Tech
  • #15 Louisville
  • #25 Florida State
  • #35 NC State
  • #37 Clemson
  • #48 Syracuse

Could these 9 conference teams make their way to the NCAA Tournament? We’ll take a look at how one bracket sees it in a moment but first let’s take a look at two other important measurements of performance.

Deep Dive – Men’s Basketball


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Two other important metric sources are KenPom’s College Basketball Ratings and ESPN’s BPI. Pomeroy lists Duke and Virginia as the top two teams in the country. Looking at the stats and schedule you might find it difficult to argue that point. ESPN begs to differ. They see Gonzaga as the top team in the BPI while the aforementioned conference teams are #2 and #3. Let’s take a look at both and how teams from the ACC stack up.


KenPom (Through 2/11)

  • #1 Duke
  • #2 Virginia
  • #9 North Carolina
  • #10 Virginia Tech
  • #13 Louisville
  • #22 Florida State
  • #30 Clemson
  • #39 NC State
  • #43 Syracuse

The two teams benefitting most from their recent victories are Florida State and Clemson. The Seminoles have remained a viable post-season team all season while the Tigers have been on a roller-coaster.


ESPN BPI (Through 2/11)

  • #2 Virginia
  • #3 Duke
  • #7 North Carolina
  • #8 Virginia Tech
  • #16 Louisville
  • #20 Florida State
  • #22 NC State
  • #30 Clemson
  • #35 Syracuse
  • #67 Miami

You’ll notice that Miami is included in the ESPN College Basketball Power Index at #67. In this particular run the model has the Canes moving up 8 spots. If you’re a fan, don’t get too excited. From the standpoint of NCAA Tournament action the possibilities are slim at this point. With that in mind let’s look at Joe Lunardi’s projected brackets for ACC teams.

Deep Dive – Men’s Basketball


Bracketology with Joe Lunardi (Through 2/12)

#1 Seeds

  • Duke – East
  • Virginia – Midwest
  • Tennessee – South
  • Gonzaga – West

Unless you’re a fan of a team other than the four above there isn’t much to argue about here. There is only one team that has a shot of grabbing a top seed and that’s Kentucky. The Wildcats need to knock off #19 LSU tonight (2/12) and then take at least one game against Tennessee on February 16 or March 2. Though, a loss to LSU and Tennessee would deep six dreams of a top seed. The Volunteers will face LSU on February 23 in addition to the two games against Kentucky.


East

  • #6 Seed Florida State

South

  • #2 Seed North Carolina
  • #5 Seed Virginia Tech
  • #9 Seed NC State

West

  • #4 Seed Louisville
  • #8 Seed Syracuse
  • #10 Seed Clemson

You’ve already noticed there aren’t any other ACC teams in the Midwest bracket with Virginia. Here’s a quick look at the other seeds –

  • #2 Seed Kentucky
  • #3 Seed Kansas
  • #4 Seed Wisconsin
  • #5 Seed Texas Tech

Deep Dive – Men’s Basketball

To say that the ACC was competitive this season might not be the proper adjective. When looking at the overall standings there are only 3 teams that are under .500. When it comes to head to head conference matchups it becomes brutal. A total of 7 teams are currently under .500 in league play. Yet, when it comes time for the ACC Tournament you can frequently throw all of those numbers out the window. One more month and we’ll see.


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