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A Better Way To Measure A Great Season

How few losses a team has as a measure of success? Pretty smart argument.

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Duke v Gonzaga
Here’s another way to define a great season.
Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

As noted previously in this space, with more than 30 games played in a normal basketball season a standard of 20 wins to mark a successful team effort is a tepid measure, at best, little better than reaching a lower-level bowl game in football.

So let’s try to get at it by defining a stellar season based on a team’s ability to restrict losses to single digits.

This measure falls out fairly predictably. The powers who’ve been ACC members since the league’s 1954 start, Duke and North Carolina, have more than 40 such efforts each. Three other founding programs are in double digits in seasons with single-digit defeats. If that makes sense.

Or go about it another way: Separate the exceptional by counting those squads that won at least 30 games in a season.

By that measure only five ACC teams qualify: Duke with 14, UNC with 12, Virginia with 4, and NC State and Notre Dame -- only in the conference since 2014 -- with one each. Limiting the count to this century, Duke leads with nine 30-win seasons followed by Carolina at 6, Virginia at 3 and Notre Dame.

We’d argue single-digit losses are more revealing, and more inclusive.

ACC Teams With Single-Digit Losses in a Season
(Asterisk Indicates Won ACC Tournament)
School <10 L Last
W-L Season
Joined ACC
BC 1 2006 28-8 2006
C 6 2009 23-9 1954
D 46 2018 29-8 1954
FS 1 2017 26-9 1992
GT 3 1990 28-7* 1980
UL 0 NA NA 2015
UM 2 2016 27-8 2016
NC 48 2017 33-7 1954
NS 17 1989 22-9 1954
ND 1 2015 32-6* 2014
UP 0 NA NA 2014
SU 0 NA NA 2014
V 11 2018 31-3* 1954
VT 1 2010 25-9 2005
WF 15 2009 24-7 1954
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