We could have saved ourselves some time Wednesday and asked Al to explain the ACC tiebreaker formula. He was nice enough to point out our misconceptions. Get a drink! Hit the head! This will take a couple of minutes.
In the first place, margin of victory is NEVER a factor.
The first tiebreaker is head-to-head. The second tiebreaker is to go to the top of the standings and compare records. When one or the other has a better record, that team wins the tiebreaker.
Check out how that works with Duke-FSU ... you suggest that FSU wins a tiebreaker because they beat Duke by 16 and Duke beat FSU by just five. In reality, they are 1-1 against each other. But Duke wins the tiebreaker because they are 1-0 (or 2-0 or 1-1) against No. 1 seed UNC, while FSU is 0-1 against the Heels,
Duke wins the head-to-head tiebreaker with Notre Dame, FSU, Virginia and Miami. Duke loses the head-to-head tiebreaker with Louisville and Virginia Tech.
The trouble is when multiple teams tie. For instance, as of today, we have FSU, Duke, Louisville all at 11-6. If that was it, we’d look at the head-to-heads as a group – FSU is 3-2 against the other 2 ... Duke is 1-2 ... Louisville is 1-1. Therefore, if the seedings were done today, FSU would be the No. 3 seed, Louisville No. 4 and Duke No. 5.
For Duke, the seeding situation is simple – win Saturday and they earn a double bye (it could be either the 3 or the 4 seed, depending on some other games). Lose at UNC and Duke can’t do better than than No. 5 seed.