Things change fast in the ACC. The conference race has barely started,
and there are already crises for just about everyone. UNC now looks like
the least talented team in the ACC. Virginia and Maryland both have some
significant issues to deal with. State
is improved, but still can't count on the offense. Clemson, Tech, and
Florida State are all three stuck with mediocre records, peppered with defeats
to the likes of Yale and Western Carolina (obviously FSU's record is comforted
by recent events). And while Wake Forest looked like world-beaters against UNC,
swift and athletic (somewhat like FSU looked, come to think of it), they still
throw the ball away with the best of them.
Since our Theory of the ACC is that desperate teams make things much more
interesting, the conference race is off to a really big start. This, too,
underscores the very different nature of the ACC, and argues against expansion:
who would want to water this down? This is great.
When you get down to it, though, the teams that have stepped up and shown
life lately are, without question, State, Wake, and Florida State. Of the
three, only Wake is highly likely (as of today) to make the tournament; both
State and FSU have a lot to prove yet, and a lot of games to go. Nonetheless,
the fact that one of the worst teams in the conference can beat the best team in
the country says good things about the ACC.
If we had to guess today, we'd say Duke, Maryland, UVa, Wake Forest, and N.C.
State would get bids. Tech is going nowhere fast, FSU is just above .500,
Clemson is a potential bid but has to get hot, FSU can aim higher now but the 'Noles
still have a weak record, and UNC is under .500.
Stat of the day: with a guarantee of 17 games left, UNC will have to go 15-2
to reach 20 wins. They could also win the conference title and a tourney
bid, but that seems unlikely at this point.