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ACC Mediocre Against Top Competition So Far

The conference hasn’t fared well against ranked non-conference teams

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NCAA Basketball: Kentucky at Louisville
Dec 21, 2016; Louisville, KY, USA; Louisville Cardinals forward Deng Adel (22) reacts during the second half against the Kentucky Wildcats at KFC Yum! Center. Louisville defeated Kentucky 73-70.
Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Rankings, especially polls, mix a large amount of discernible truth with a quotient of popular pap and just a smidgen of arbitrariness. This time of year there’s still residue from last season’s achievements, too, reflecting a program’s historic stature and other lurking impressions from the past.

But rankings arguably separate the best teams from the not-so-good, the top 25 from the other 326 in Division I. They certainly make for a decent measure of who’s formidable and who’s not, and provide a standard of challenge and achievement in nonconference competition.

By that measure, rather surprisingly the ACC isn’t doing all that well during the pre-league regular season. There are just a few significant outings left – Indiana vs. Louisville on the 31st, Virginia at Villanova on Jan. 29. Conference play commences on Wednesday, with Wake Forest at Florida State and Virginia at Louisville.

To date, ACC teams are 6-12 against outside opponents ranked in the Associated Press top 25. Duke (Rhode Island, Florida) and Louisville (Purdue, Kentucky) each have two of the wins. Florida State (Florida) and North Carolina (Wisconsin) hold one each.

The highest-ranked team beaten by an ACC member was No. 6 UK, topped by Louisville. No other ACC club downed a top-10 opponent in five tries.

Since Louisville joined the ACC three seasons ago, during the regular season the Cardinals have matched UNC with seven games each against AP top-25 squads from beyond the conference. UL-Indiana will give the Cardinals eight. Duke has taken on six.

That trio will finish with 21 of the 55 contests between ACC teams and ranked opponents over the past three seasons (38 percent).

At the other end of the spectrum six ACC members -- Clemson, Pittsburgh, Boston College, Florida State, Georgia Tech and Notre Dame – have combined to schedule eight top-25 teams over those same three years, matching Louisville.

BC, Georgia Tech, Pitt and Virginia Teach entirely sidestepped ranked teams this year. The first two are rebuilding, the second two were popular picks to finish in the upper-middle of the league.

Only Duke, Miami, UNC and UVa have winning records against top-25 rivals since 2015.

Overall ACC clubs have a losing record against ranked teams over the past three seasons, going 25-28. We don’t hear much about that showing, let alone this year’s 6-12 mark, do we?

ACC Against AP-Ranked Nonconference Opponents, 2015-17 Regular Seasons
School Opponents Ranked By Year
BC 1 (3) 0-1 0-1-0
Clemson 2 (18, 11) 1-1 1-0-1
Duke 6 (19,2,2,7,21, 21) 4-2 2-1-3
Florida St. 1 (21) 1-0 0-0-1
Georgia Tech 1 (8) 0-1 0-1-0
Louisville* 7 (14,1,3,11,20,15,6) 3-4 2-2-3
Miami 5 (8,24,16,20,21) 4-1 2-2-1
No. Carolina 7 (22,18,2,22,16,13,6) 5-2 2-2-3
N.C. State 3 (22,22,22) 1-2 1-1-1
Notre Dame 1 (1) 0-1 0-0-1
Pitt 2 (15,11) 0-2 1-1-0
Syracuse 5 (17,7,18,25,17) 2-3 2-2-1
Virginia* 4 (21,14,12,25) 3-1 1-2-1
Virginia Tech 3 (17,4,19) 0-3 1-2-0
Wake 5 (13,19,6,3,17) 1-4 0-3-2
53 25-28 15-20-18

*Scheduled game remaining against ranked team.

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