ACC Football 2012: Projecting The Probability Of Each Potential Finish In Conference For Every Team!

With only four days until the ACC football kicks off, it's time for my annual look at the ACC, complete with my projections. Using the known Vegas spreads, and the available projected spreads, and adjusting for injury, preceding and proceeding games, I projected the chance of each team winning in every ACC game. I then ran the numbers (warning: nerd alert!, and yes, the outcomes are independent) and charted the chance of each team finishing with records between 8-0 and 0-8.

The great takeaway here is the great variability and unpredictability of college football. There are no locks. Many different records are in play for all teams. Oh, and who each team draws from the opposite division rotation really matters.

For those who don't like charts, here's a note on each ACC team.

Atlantic Division

  • Boston College: An 81.2% chance that the Eagles finish with a losing ACC record against only a 3.4% chance of a winning conference mark probably won't keep HC Frank Spaziani in Chestnut Hill now that AD Gene DeFillipo is out.

    For more on Eagles football, visit Boston College blog BC Interruption, plus SB Nation Boston.

  • Clemson: I give the defending conference champions a 61% chance of finishing 6-2 or 5-3, with a 7-1 finish (16.3%) about as likely as a 4-4 campaign (15%). A perfect or losing ACC record is very unlikely. The Tigers' chances of a 7-1 or 8-0 record are hurt by having to play four of the six projected top ACC teams (of which they are in the top three).

    For more Tigers football, visit Clemson blog Shakin' The Southland.

  • Florida State: Vegas and the experts have Florida State as the overwhelming favorite to win the division and the favorite to win the conference overall for a reason. The current projections, which closely track those of Vegas, give the 'Noles a 97.9% chance of finishing with their third-straight winning ACC record. A 7-1 record is most likely at 39.3%, but even with FSU as a very large favorite in five ACC games, and a favorite in all, the 'Noles are still more likely to finish 6-2 (28.8%) than 8-0 (19.5%).
  • Maryland: The Terrapins won two games in 2011 and looked to be slightly better in 2012, but the injury bug bit hard leaving the Terps without their QB and best defensive end, along with several other players. Depth, talent and morale are major issues facing the Terps, who have only a 0.5% chance of finishing with a winning ACC record against a 96.4% chance of a losing campaign. Worse yet, Maryland does not draw Duke from the Coastal Division rotation, making a no-win campaign (19.3%) more likely than a 3-5 year (12.2%).

    For more on Terps football, visit Maryland blog Testudo Times, plus SB Nation DC.

  • N.C. State: The Wolfpack are a popular sleeper nationally, but that has a lot to do with a non-conference trio of South Alabama, The Citadel and UConn. Still, N.C. State is one of the six ACC teams projected to have a winning record in conference. And the numbers give the 'Pack an 82.9% chance of avoiding a losing conference season. Additionally, because N.C. State doesn't play Virginia Tech or Georgia Tech from the Coastal rotation, it controls its own destiny in the Atlantic if it can somehow beat both Florida State and Clemson.

    For more on Wolfpack football, visit N.C. State blog Backing The Pack.

  • Wake Forest: A salty defense and veteran quarterback will have to carry a very questionable offensive line in 2012. But offseason problems for BC and Maryland, plus the absence of Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech from Wake's schedule will help to ensure at least a fourth-place finish in the Atlantic. Still, a winning campaign (21.1%) is not as likely as a losing ACC record (49.7%)

    For more on Deacs football, visit Wake Forest blog Blogger So Dear.

Coastal Division

  • Duke: There is a lot of noise about the Blue Devils making a bowl game once again, but David Clutcliffe has said that in each of the last three seasons as well. It probably won't happen in 2012 without a great non-conference performance (including an upset of Stanford), because the Blue Devils have a 90.1% chance of losing six or more conference games.

    For more on the Blue Devils, visit Duke Baskeball Report.

  • Georgia Tech: The team with the best chance to end Virginia Tech's reign in the Coastal Division is the Yellow Jackets. Tech brings back a very veteran team, and is almost 10X as likely to have a winning ACC mark (72.5%) than a losing one (7.9%). Tech fans have to feel good knowing a 6-2 conference mark is 45% more likely than a 4-4 year. Drawing both Maryland and Boston College from the Atlantic Division helps the cause.

    For more on Jackets football, visit Georgia Tech blog From The Rumble Seat, plus SB Nation Atlanta.

  • Miami: The Hurricanes lost an enormous amount of talent off the underachieving 2011 team, are expected to decline another bowl bid as a sacrifice to the NCAA, and have a roster that is more than half filled by first or second-year players. Picked 5th by the ACC writers and by Vegas, Miami is 3X as likely to have a losing ACC record (55.8%) than it is to have a winning mark (18.2%). This is a team of great variance, and anything from 1-7 to 6-2 is not beyond the realm. And 4-4 is a distinct possibility.

    For more on Canes football, visit Miami blog The 7th Floor.

  • North Carolina: The Tar Heels dodge Florida State and Clemson from the Coastal, and play N.C. State, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech at home. Their ACC road trips are at Duke, at Virginia, at Miami, and at Wake Forest. They could be favored in all eight games, in theory. But even if they are, they won't be favored by much. The Tar Heels are twice as likely to have a winning conference record (52.7%) as they are a losing conference slate (20.7%). 4-4 is also very possible at 28.2%, as UNC will look to avoid a late-season slide.

    For more on UNC football, visit North Carolina blog Carolina March.

  • Virginia: The Cavaliers were last year's ACC darling, finishing with an 8-5 record and a surprise appearance in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. But that sort of luck with injuries and bounces is unlikely to happen again, as Virginia has an equal chance of a winning conference record as it does a losing mark, with both figures sitting at 34.65%. The most likely finish is 4-4.

    For more on Hoos football, visit Virginia blog Streaking The Lawn.

  • Virginia Tech: The Hokies are decent favorites to have the best record in the Coastal Division, and importantly, they get to host the major threat in that side of the bracket, Georgia Tech. The Hokies have an 82.6% chance of finishing with a winning ACC record, and only a 4.6% chance of a losing mark. And with a cakewalk non-conference slate for the second consecutive year, if VT can go 4-0 outside of the ACC, the Hokies will probably reach 10 wins as I project the Hokies to have a 54% chance of finishing 6-2 or better in the league.

    For more on Hokies football, visit Virginia Tech blog Gobbler Country.

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