Projecting the Noles 10.29.08: Simulating the ACC

I mentioned this idea in an earlier column, but I wanted to expound on it.  Scalpem had a post that inspired me to go all-out.

A lot of people are struggling with the question of how much to believe in the Noles.  Your beliefs about this team are probably based on what you see on the field, and statistics relative to other teams.  One key component of evaluation is understanding competition.  The Fremeau Efficiency Index, a metric I trust, released their strength of schedule numbers today.  Note that I don't necessarily agree with their rankings, but I do value their S.O.S. numbers.  What did we learn?

  • FSU is 6-1, against the 54th most difficult schedule to date, and
  • FSU's remaining 5 games are against the 8th toughest schedule, Nationally.

How much does that change your perceptions of this team? 

Knowing that, I tried to evaluate our remaining schedule.  If you're a frequent listerner of the Jeff Cameron Show, you heard Jeff discuss this yesterday. 

I used win probabilities based on projected Vegas lines.  Who projected the lines?  I did, and I think I'm pretty decent at doing so. 

Here are the projected winning percentages in our remaining 5 games rounded to 5%):

  • @ Georgia Tech: 50%
  • Clemson: 80%
  • Boston College: 70%
  • @ Maryland: 60%
  • Florida: 25%

If you think I am way off on any of those, let me know and we will discuss.

From there, I ran every possible scenario, and came out with some results which I think are realistic, but also somewhat encouraging.

Let's first look at our chances within the ACC.  We currently sit at 3-1 in ACC play, and have 4 remaining games (@ GaTech, Clemson, Boston College, @ Maryland) .

  • 7-1 ACC: 16.8%
  • 6-2 ACC: 39.4%
  • 5-3 ACC: 32.0%
  • 4-4 ACC: 10.6%
  • 3-5 ACC: 1.2%

Interestingly, we have a slightly better chance of winning out or suffering only 1 loss (55.2%) in the remaining ACC Slate than we do of going 2-2 or worse (44.8%).

We are probably NOT going to win out in ACC play (16.8% Chance).

The question on most minds is "will we go to the ACCCG?"  My answer to that is "reserve your hotel room, but don't buy your tickets just yet." 

What is the other side of this coin?  The other teams in the division, of course.

Wake Forest (Remaining Schedule is 31st)

Duke: 72%
Virginia: 63%
@ NC State: 63%
BC: 66%

  • 6-2 ACC: 18.9%
  • 5-3 ACC: 39.2%
  • 4-4 ACC: 30.6%
  • 3-5 ACC: 10.0%
  • 2-6 ACC: 1.3%

Thoughts here?  Obviously, if Wake goes 4-4 in the ACC, we look pretty good.  Interestingly, Wake is the only team remaining likely to be favored in every game.

Let's look at the chances of some possible finishes:

  • Finish with a BETTER record than Wake: about 63.4% of the time.
  • Finish with a worse record than Wake: 13.5% of the time. 

I'll take my chances with that, but what I am really concerned with here is an equal record, since Wake holds the head-to-head tiebreaker by virtue of their September win in Doak.  Here they are:

  • Both finish at 6-2 ACC approximately 7.5% of the time.
  • Both finish at 5-4 ACC approximately 12.5% of the time.  
  • Both finish at 4-4 ACC approximately 3.2% of the time.
  • Both finish at 3-5 ACC less than 1 times in 1000 tries. 

Maryland (3rd Hardest Remaining Schedule)

@ VT:  37%
UNC:   50%
FSU:    40%
@ BC: 40%
Maryland is not guaranteed to be favored in any remaining game.

  • 7-1 ACC 3.0%
  • 6-2 ACC 16.9%
  • 5-3 ACC 30.6%
  • 4-4 ACC 38.2%
  • 3-5 ACC 11.3%

Hmmm, interesting.  Maryland has a greater chance of finishing 6-2 than Wake, but only slightly.

Boston College (34th most difficult schedule remaining)

Clemson: 64%
@ FSU: 30%
@ Wake: 37%
Maryland: 60%

  • 6-2 ACC 4.3%
  • 5-3 ACC 22.4%
  • 4-4 ACC 30.6%
  • 3-5 ACC 36.3%
  • 2-6 ACC 6.4%

Boston College fans:  please make your reservations for Nashville or elsewhere.  You will not be going to Tampa.  BC could beat Maryland, Wake, and FSU, yet still not win the Atlantic.  That's pretty remarkable.

Final Prediction

Root for BC at this point, and then go from there.  A win at GT would be absolutely huge for the 'Noles.  They are the favorites to win the Atlantic at this point. 

In my next installment, I will examine the tiebreaker rules.  For now, peruse these, assuming a Maryland- FSU- Wake Tie at 6-2 (1.3% chance) or 5-3 (3.8% chance, roughly).

Three-Way Tie (A "mini-conference" is created among the three tied teams.)

Scenario 1
All three tied teams have each won one and lost one against the other teams in the mini-conference.

1. In this case, the highest ranked team among the three earns the bid.  This is interesting, as we'd likely be that team, but could drop if we get trounced by the Gators.

2. If two of the three teams have the same ranking, the bid is earned by the team winning the head-to-head matchup.  This is really doubtful. 

3. If none of the teams are ranked, the BCS Bowl would select the team of its choice from among the tied teams.  Who do you think would go?  The Orange Bowl does not want any shot of Maryland or Wake killing their game.

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