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What If Florida State and the Majority of the ACC Finished 8-8? A Breakdown of the Potential Matchups

Virginia. Duke. Clemson. Maryland. Those are the top four spots in the roller coaster ride that is ACC Conference play. Duke is no surprise. Clemson was expected to be near the top. Maryland was predicted to have good year, possibly a "top 25 year." But the Cavaliers? Last year the University of Virginia went 4-12 in the ACC and had the ACC Rookie of the Year: Sylven Landesberg. Currently they sit atop the ACC standings with wins over NC State, Georgia Tech and Miami. Can the Cavaliers ride out the remainder of their season and compete for a tournament bid? Time will tell. The point is that anyone can win on any given night in the ACC; there are no guarantees, meaning the middle of the pack is an absolute log jam.

In a fanshot that listed Florida State's changes in the major polls and bracket predictions, the following discussion took place (By the way, there is a ton of great basketball and baseball discussion in there, so take a few minutes to check it out):

GoNolzOhio: Someone at Tomahawk Nation needs to do an analysis and discover how the ACC Tourney bracket would work out if everyone in the league finishes 8-8, which I consider a distinct possibility!!!!

Tricknole: You would need to know who each team/beat lost to in order to determine the tiebreakers.

Randall W. Spetman: TC is a smart guy. I'm sure he could run some numbers and explain every possible scenario. That would be a mess, huh?

Tricknole: With roughly 12 games left for each school there would be a ridiculous amount of scenarios.

You ask and we deliver (to the best of our ability).

Continue reading after the jump to see what would happen if the ACC Tournament would start right now. (Meaning before the Georgia Tech/Clemson Game on Tuesday night.)

Before we get into the possible scenarios, here are the current standings in the ACC from Ken Pomeroy:

Team Overall Conf Proj Pomeroy AdjO AdjD AdjT Next Game
Virginia 12-4 3-0 8-8 .8632 53 113.7 25 96.9 108 63.5 322 Sat, at 39 Wake Forest (L, 71-65, 26%)
Duke 15-2 3-1 13-3 .9865 1 124.7 1 85.8 9 69.6 119 Wed, at 78 North Carolina St. (W, 80-66, 90%)
Clemson 15-3 3-1 10-6 .9448 15 110.4 49 86.3 12 70.2 88 Tue, at 25 Georgia Tech (L, 70-68, 42%)
Maryland 11-5 2-1 9-7 .9285 23 114.3 22 91.4 44 71.2 48 Tue, vs 300 Longwood (W, 99-64, 99%)
Georgia Tech 13-4 2-2 8-8 .9241 25 108.7 64 87.4 17 70.9 61 Tue, vs 15 Clemson (W, 70-68, 58%)
Florida St. 14-4 2-2 9-7 .9239 26 105.4 101 84.8 6 69.6 116 Sun, vs 25 Georgia Tech (W, 68-65, 66%)
Wake Forest 12-4 2-2 8-8 .9024 39 106.8 85 88.0 19 71.6 44 Wed, at 46 North Carolina (L, 79-75, 39%)
Virginia Tech 14-3 1-2 8-8 .9118 31 103.8 120 84.7 5 67.4 211 Sat, vs 84 Boston College (W, 67-57, 84%)
North Carolina 12-6 1-2 7-9 .8850 46 110.8 45 92.8 55 74.8 9 Wed, vs 39 Wake Forest (W, 79-75, 61%)
Miami FL 15-3 1-3 6-10 .8825 47 108.8 63 91.3 43 67.9 190 Tue, vs 84 Boston College (W, 70-62, 80%)
North Carolina St. 12-6 1-3 5-11 .8063 78 109.1 59 96.4 99 66.9 236 Wed, vs 1 Duke (L, 80-66, 10%)
Boston College 10-8 1-3 4-12 .7848 84 107.0 82 95.7 92 66.1 259 Tue, at 47 Miami FL (L, 70-62, 20%)


Before explaining the tie breaking rules in the ACC, let's make a few assumptions. The intent of this piece is not to explain every scenario, to make any crazy predictions, but to simply explain what would happen today if the ACC tournament would start if the majority of the teams in the ACC finish 8-8. For the majority of the points made in this discussion, the rankings above and Ken Pomeroy's projected wins and losses in conference games will be used. I'm not going to pretend that I can guess at what will happen in every game in the ACC. As many of you know, we're big fans of Pomeroy's work and therefore we will use his predictions to continue the discussion.

Keep in mind, this is simply for discussion sake and to make some interesting points to keep in mind. As flattered as we are by Mr. Spetman's opinion, we don't have all the answers. We just like to look into interesting questions and see what we come up with. It's up to you to decide if you agree or not, but it's always fun to take a look.

Currently, it appears that Duke and Clemson will likely finish with better record than 8-8. However, Georgia Tech and Clemson are currently tied with seconds to go in the game. It also appears that Miami, NC State and BC will likely finish with a record worse than 8-8. UNC is projected to finish with a record of 7-9. Despite their early season woes, UNC will likely finish with a better record. For the sake of this discussion, let's included them in the 8-8 group. FSU and Maryland are both projected to finish 9-7. It wouldn't be fun to not include FSU in the discussion, so let's go ahead and lump FSU and Maryland in the 8-8 group, which is entirely possible.

Based on the assumptions made above, that would mean the following schools would finish with an 8-8 record in the ACC: UVA, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, FSU, UNC and Maryland.  You can agree or disagree with those teams as much as you like, but simply for the sake of this discussion let's include them all.

The Tie Breaking Rules in the ACC are the following:

  1. When two teams are tied in the standings, regular season head-to-head results are used as the tiebreaker.
  2. If the tied teams played each other twice in the regular season and split their games, then each team's record vs. the team occupying the highest position in the final regular season standings (or in case of a tie for first place, the next highest position in the regular season standings) and then continuing down through the standings until one team gains an advantage.

a. When arriving at another pair of tied teams while comparing records, use each team's record against the collective tied teams as a group (prior to their own tie-breaking procedures), rather than the performance against the individual tied teams.

b. When comparing records against a single team or a group of teams, the higher winning percentage shall prevail, even if the number of games played against a team or group is unequal. (i.e., 2-0 is better than 3-1; 1-0 is the same as 2-0; 2-0 is the same as 4-0; 2-1 is the same as 4-2; 1-0 is better than 1-1; 0-1 is the same as 0-2; 0-2 is the same as 0-4). If the winning percentage of the tied teams is equal against a team, or a group of tied teams, continue down through the standings until one team gains an advantage.

  1. If three or more teams are tied in the standings, the following procedures will be used:

a. The combined record of conference games between the tied teams involved will be compiled. Ties will be broken, and seedings assigned, based on the winning percentage of the combined conference records. The higher winning percentage shall prevail, even if the number of games played against the team or group is unequal (i.e., 2-0 is better than 3-1; 1-0 is the same as 2-0; 2-0 is the same as 4-0; 2-1 is the same as 4-2; 1-0 is better than 1-1; 0-1 is the same as 0-2; 0-2 is the same as 0-4).

b. If procedure (a) fails to break the tie, then each tied team's record shall be compared to the team occupying the highest position in the final regular-season standings, continuing down through the standings until one team gains an advantage by a higher winning percentage.

c. If the tie is broken by (a) or (b) regarding one of more teams, but three or more teams remain tied, then procedures (a) and (b) will be reapplied among those tied teams only.

d. If two teams remain tied, procedures (1) and (2) will be followed.

  1. If there is more than one tie in the standings, and when utilizing the tie-breaking procedures there are a pair of teams tied, a team's record against the combined tied teams (prior to their own tie-breaking procedures) is used, rather than performance against the individual tied teams.
  2. If procedures (2) and/or (3) fail to establish an advantage, a coin flip to break the tie will be conducted by the commissioner after the final regular season game before the Conference Championship.
  3. If a coin flip or draw (for a three or more team tie) is required, the procedure takes place immediately following the conclusion of the last regular season game prior to the Conference Championship. The procedure is administered by the commissioner or a designated assistant. This session is open to the media and to athletics department representatives from the tied teams.

The key points to look at are the guidelines under point number three. If our assumptions are correct, seven teams would finish with an 8-8 record in the ACC, and therefore the record of each team against the 'group' is the basis of the ranking.

Here are each school's schedule against the 'group' and their projected W-L using the Pomeroy Predictions and their winning percentage:

Virginia (3-6, 0.333): GTech, Wake x 2, VTech x 2, Maryland x 2, UNC, FSU

GTech (4-5, 0.444): FSU x 2, UVA, Wake x 2, Vtech, UNC x2, Maryland

Wake (4-5, 0.444): GTech x 2, UVA x 2, VTech, FSU, UNC x 2, Maryland

VTech (4-4, 0.500): UVA x 2, GTech, Wake, FSU, UNC x 2, Maryland

FSU (6-2, 0.750): Maryland x 2, UVA, GTech x 2, Wake, UNC, VTech

UNC (4-5, 0.444): UVA, GTech x 2, Wake x 2, VTech x 2, FSU, Maryland

Maryland (5-3, 0.625): UVA x 2, Gtech, Wake, VTech, FSU x 2, UNC

Based on our interpretations of the guidelines, that would give the following standings:

FSU 0.750

Maryland 0.625

VTech 0.500

UNC 0.444

Wake 0.444

GTech 0.444

UVA 0.333

This creates another problem with a three way tie. If you then break down the schedule further, according to the guidelines above, the three way tie results in the following order: GTech, Wake UNC.

The interesting thing to note is that three teams play only eight games against the rest of the group: FSU, Maryland and Virginia Tech. This is significant in that if any of those three teams has the same number of wins as the rest of the group, they will be ranked higher based on winning percentage. This is to their advantage as it decreases the possible number of tie scenarios they are in and placing them at a higher ranking given an equal number of wins.

Here then are the final standings based on the assumptions made above:

  1. Duke
  2. Clemson
  3. Florida State
  4. Maryland
  5. Virginia Tech
  6. Georgia Tech
  7. Wake Forest
  8. University of North Carolina
  9. University of Virginia
  10. University of Miami
  11. North Carolina State
  12. Boston College


If the tournament were to start today, you would get the following match ups:

Day 1:

Game 1: University of North Carolina (#8) vs. University of Virginia (#9)

Game 2: Virginia Tech (#5) vs. Boston College (#12)

Game 3: Wake Forest University (#7) vs. University of Miami (#10)

Game 4: Georgia Tech (#6) vs North Carolina State (#11)


Day 2:

Game 1: Duke (#1) vs UNC/UVA Winner

Game 2: Maryland (#4) vs. VTech/BC Winner

Game 3: Clemson (#2) vs Wake Forest/UM Winner

Game 4: Florida State (#3) vs Georgia Tech/NC State winner

If you want to play around with the match ups, simply move any of the teams in the 8-8 group up and down based on their record. Keep in mind the three teams that only play eight games as they will be ranked higher than any of the teams that play nine games given the same number of wins. If a tie is created based on winning percentage and there are three or more teams involved, you will have to look at the winning percentage within the new three way tie. If it is a two way tie, look at the head to head match up.

There are too many permutations at this point to put together a coherent article about the potential scenarios. This article simply illustrates what would happen today if those seven teams finished 8-8 with the specific wins and losses based on the Pomeroy predictions.

Believe it or not, the Seminoles would finish third. There is way too much basketball to be played to hang any weight on any of this, but it's interesting to discuss and to think about what might/could happen.



**As always, please feel free to comment if I have misinterpreted anything. And...provide your own analysis on this. Always interested to read your opinions.**