Friday, February 15, 2008

NCAA Projection

With the exception of Miami and Georgia Tech each ACC team now has six remaining games before the ACC Tournament in Charlotte. Here is a breakdown of the remaining schedule of teams with NCAA tournament hopes.

Duke (10-0) RPI 2
Home:Georgia Tech, UNC
Away: Wake Forest, Miami, NC State, Virginia
They have four road games left but none of them are very daunting. The Blue Devils have an outside shot at being 15-0 with North Carolina coming to Cameron. That would be a must watch game. Wake Forest is suddenly making some noise and Miami will be very physical with Duke like they were a few weeks ago. They could lose one of those games but it doesn't seem likely. Projection: 15-1 NCAA

North Carolina (8-2) RPI 4
Home: Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Florida State
Away: Duke, NC State, Boston College
It really is tough to handicap this team without Ty Lawson. They have escaped with three wins in the games he missed but they could also easily be 6-4. The schedule is favorable if they get Lawson back with some cake walk home games and two road games that they should win. A number one seed doesn't seem very solid at this point. Projection: 13-3 (without Lawson returning, 12-4) NCAA

Clemson (6-4) RPI 23
Home: Miami, Virginia Tech
Away: Maryland, NC State, Florida State, Georgia Tech
The Tigers are probably better than their record indicates, hence the solid RPI number. They face four road games but the Maryland game seems the only really tough contest. The home games should not be a problem. They are vulnerable with injuries and their poor free throw shooting keeps other teams in the game. Still, they should be able to lock up the third spot in the ACC. Projection: 10-6 NCAA

Maryland (6-4) RPI 50
Home: Florida State, Virginia Tech, Clemson
Away: Miami, Wake Forest, Virginia
It is a balanced schedule with three home and three away. None of the games should be intimidating and there are plenty of wins to be had with this schedule. The next two home games are critical, if they win both then they can coast to a winning record and likely ACC bid. If they drop a game then things begin to look a little less bright. With three games against the bottom of the conference, even though two are on the road, a winning record looks like a solid bet. Projection: 10-6 NCAA

Wake Forest (5-5) RPI 79
Home: Duke, Maryland, NC State
Away: North Carolina, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech
Given a weak RPI and some tough games left the Deacons look to be long shots at this point. I only put them up on the list because they have surged a little with two wins over some bad teams. Upcoming games against Duke and UNC are likely to knock them out of the NCAA discussion but a win could catapult them into serious bubble discussions. Still lack a signature win and probably need to win two against the UNC, Duke and Maryland trio. A 5-1 finish is the only way they would get into the postseason with room to spare. Projection: 7-9 NIT

NC State (4-6) RPI 52
Home: North Carolina, Clemson, Duke, Florida State
Away: Virginia, Wake Forest
Their falling but still respectable RPI is the only thing that keeps them on the list. The Wolfpack probably face the most difficult slate of remaining games. They may get UNC, Duke and Clemson at home but have not shown any ability to win games against superior opponents. The away games are not too difficult but even if they sweep those games and go 2-2 in their home contests that still leaves them in NIT territory. Projection: 7-9 NIT

Miami (3-6) RPI 41
Home: Maryland, Duke, Virginia, Boston College
Away: Clemson, Georgia Tech, Florida State
The Hurricane's RPI is also the only reason I mention them here and that is fading fast. The remaining slate isn't terrible but Miami doesn't really have much home court advantage to speak of. The loss to FSU probably ended their hopes. They would have to sweep their home games and win two out of the three road games to get serious consideration. Maryland came back from the dead last season at 3-6 but this team isn't as seasoned or well coached. Projection: 6-10 NIT

Boston College (4-6) RPI 79
Home: Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia Tech
Away: Florida State, Virginia Tech, Miami
The Eagles slim hopes were revived last night with a win over NC State. The RPI is awful and the best win is probably over Maryland last December. Boston College probably need to win out to get serious NCAA consideration. Given their weak schedule that might be possible. Beating UNC at home is a necessity but the road games are not intimidating and the Eagles could sweep those three middling opponents. That would give a nice boost to their RPI but they dug such a hole with the six game losing streak that 9-7 might not be enough. Projection: 7-9 NIT

I didn't bother to mention Georgia Tech or Virginia Tech because they have no chance unless they win out to have any consideration. The Hokies face road games at Maryland, UNC and Clemson with the need to probably win two out of the three to get their dismal RPI into tournament territory. Georgia Tech has too many losses to get in without a run to the ACC Tournament finals, even if they finish 9-7 in the ACC. They need to win at Duke to get a victory that will impress the committee. The Yellow Jackets are probably the fifth or sixth best team in the ACC but had some tough early losses.

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