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One Good Way To Define Success In The ACC

Winning is easy to explain but not always easy to accomplish.

Wake Forest v Duke
DURHAM, NC - MARCH 05: Head coach Danny Manning (R) of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons talks with head coach Mike Krzyzewski of the Duke Blue Devils prior to their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on March 5, 2019 in Durham, North Carolina.
Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

Two of the most common, if subjective, measures of a coach’s abilities are his or her facility for both developing players and leading a team to coalesce as a season progresses.

To get a read on who’s cutting it as a high-quality ACC competitor, let’s look at team performance under the 10 coaches who’ve been in the league at least six years. That is, since minimally successful Jim Christian arrived at Boston College and Danny Manning at Wake Forest. (In a decade running their teams, the pair combined for one NCAA bid and one in the NIT.)

Set aside the preliminaries — the early, nonconference portion of the schedule that’s largely discretionary — and focus on mandatory, predatory ACC competition. To drill down a bit further, consider that winning sporadically over the course of an ACC season may be fruitful in achieving a handsome record or even a postseason bid but is not dependent on a squad ever hitting a winning stride.

Surely, to be regarded as a upper-echelon unit a team must run off a few wins in a row, find a groove, sustain a level of excellence that demonstrates consistent power. Two consecutive wins is a fortunate happenstance; three or more is a statement, especially as the season wears toward its climactic moments.

And, frankly, three or more losses in a row, especially incurred on repeat occasions during the course of the same season, are likewise signs of struggle, the mark of an opponent you do want to play.

Breaking down the past six years (through Wednesday, Feb. 19) there are eight coaches in the first-rank mix over that span, posting skeins of 3 or more ACC wins virtually every year.

Only Christian and Manning didn’t. Christian, generally regarded as a fine coach, has yet to run off any sustained burst of victories in six seasons. Manning has a single 4-game flare to his credit in 2017, when he led the decreasingly demonic Deacons to the NCAA tournament and secured a contract anchored by a reportedly gargantuan buyout.

Only Mike Krzyzewski, in 2016, and Roy Williams this year have suffered a single stumble of three or more games’ length over the past half-dozen seasons.

Runs of 3 or More ACC Wins and Losses, Same Season Since 2015
($Ongoing, * Includes NCAA Game)
Team 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015
BC L 4 L 4,4 L 3,3 L 15 L 19 L 3,9,4
Clemson W 3 W4 W 3,4 W 3 W 5 W 4
L 3 L 3,3 L 3 L 6,3,3 L 3 L 3_
Duke W 4,7 W 3,9,6 W 5,5 W 7,5* W 3,5 W 3,12,6
---- ---- ---- ---- L 3 ----
FSU W 6,3 W 8,6 W 3 W 4,3 W 4,3 ----
---- L 3 ---- ---- L 3,5 L 3,3
Miami W 3$ ---- W 3,4 W 4 W 3,5,3 W 3
L 4,3 L 3,5 L 3 ---- ---- L 3
UNC ---- W 7,8 W 4,6,3 W7,4 W 8,10 W 6,3
L 5,6$ ---- ---- ---- ---- ----
Notre D W 4 ---- W 3 W 5,6 W 4,3 W 5,3,8
---- L 5,7 L 7 L 4 ---- ----
Syracuse W 5 W 3 W 3 W 5 W 3,5,4 W 4
L 3$ ---- L 4,3 L 3 L 4,3 L 3
Virginia W 3,3$ W 4,4,9 W 12,8 W 5,4 W 7,5,3 W 7,9
L3 ---- L 4 ---- ---- ----
Wake ---- ---- ---- W 4 ---- ----
L 3,3 L 3,5,4 L 7,3,3 ---- L 11,4 L 4,3,3
NOTE: Coaches at GT, UL, NCS, UP, VT not at current schools in 2015