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The Toughest ACC Schedules

The way teams in this league push each other is something else but some places are just harder to play than others.

Duke v Florida State
Cam Reddish hit a last-second three to knock off Florida State on the road, which has become increasingly hard lately.
Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Well before schools pieced together a roster of nonconference opponents — apart from the November 29-December 1 Big Ten/ACC Challenge — the ACC released the 20-game league schedules for each of its 15 teams.

The ACC appropriately seeks neutrality in scheduling, but that doesn’t prevent unequal challenges arising within league play. Some unfairness is inevitable, a matter of who plays whom, and where.

As Mike Krzyzewski once noted, Duke’s schedule doesn’t command higher marks for degree of difficulty because his team doesn’t get to play Duke.

Prior to last season, we used how often schools had to play the previous year’s top four finishers, and where they met, as a gauge of scheduling toughness. By that measure, we projected Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech were in for especially rough rides.

So the Yellow Jackets finished fourth during the league regular season and won the ACC Tournament. Virginia Tech ended up third, tied with Virginia and Florida State for the fewest league losses (4). Because of COVID the Hokies also played only 13 ACC games in 2021, tied for last in the league with BC and Louisville.

This year we rated as the four toughest venues those where the home teams had the best ACC winning percentage over the past half-decade. These sites also unsurprisingly host the league’s top four programs.

Florida State has been especially dominant on its home court, the Tucker Civic Center in Tallahassee.

Leonard Hamilton’s minions posted unblemished ACC home records in three of the past five years (2017, 2020, 2021) .The last time FSU lost at home was to Clemson on Jan. 22, 2019.

Florida State ended last season with 25 straight wins at Tucker, one short of tying the ACC record set by Duke from January 1997 to February 2000. FSU gets a shot a matching the Blue Devils’ mark on Jan. 8, 2022 against Louisville.

As for everyone else, you wouldn’t want to shoulder the schedules of Clemson, Duke or Virginia Tech. The first pair play three of the top home winners home and away. The Tigers face the ACC’s four powers seven of a possible eight times, skipping only a trip to the Smith Center.

The Hokies are the sole team that ventures to each of the four statistically toughest courts in the conference.

The easiest routes, on the other hand, face Notre Dame, UNC and UVa.

The Cavaliers play only Duke home and away among the other top four. The Tar Heels likewise play only Duke twice from that cohort.

The Fighting Irish avoid visiting all but one of the top four, in its case going to FSU, and play none of them twice.

Most of the first internecine contests are scheduled for Dec. 3-5. The exception is Virginia Tech’s visit to Duke on Dec. 22.

2022 ACC Meetings With Top Home Court Winners
(Duke, Florida State, North Carolina, Virginia)
Team Finish Top 4 Twice Road 2017-21
BC 15 5 NC NC,V .409 (18-26) 13th
C 5 (tie) 7 D, FS, V D, FS, V .696 (32-14) 6th
D 10 6 FS, NC, V FS, NC, V .826 (38-8) 2nd
FS 2 4 D D, NC, V .933 (42-3)1st
GT 4 5 NC D, NC, V .652 (30-16) 8th
UL 7 6 NC, V NC, V .744 (32-11) 5th
UM 13 6 FS, V D, FS, V .553 (26-21) 10th
NC 5 (tie) 4 D D .773 (34-10) 4th
NCS 9 6 FS, NC D, FS, NC .511 (24-23) 12th
ND 11 4 NONE FS .533 (24-21) 11th
UP 12 5 V FS, NC, V .326 (15-31) 15th
SU 8 6 D, FS D, FS, V .644 (29-16) 9th
V 1 4 D D, NC .822 (37-8) 3rd
VT 3 6 NC, V D, FS, NC, V .659 (29-15) 7th
WF 14 5 D D, FS, V .333 (15-30) 14th
NOTE: Total 2021 Games Vary Due to COVID.