ACC Basketball in 2012-2013: Deeper or Down?

I have frequently heard that that ACC basketball is down this year, but is this really true? I’ve heard comments that Duke and NC State are the only good teams with Duke being the only elite one. While I won’t claim that the ACC is having a vintage year, but I do believe it’s deeper that it’s been in years past.

Let’s start with what we know. The Big 10 is widely considered the country’s best basketball conference. I don’t disagree it’s deep and talented. The ACC went 6-6 with the Big 10 in the ACC/Big 10 challenge. The ACC and the Big 10 are the only conferences with 3 or more teams in the top 15 of the RPI.

The Big 10 has 4 (Michigan, Indiana, Minnesota, and Illinois). The ACC has 3 (Duke, NC State and Miami. ) The ACC is currently ranked 4th in conference RPI behind the Big 10, Big East, and Mountain West Conference. The Mountain West you say? Sure… that conference could get as many as 6 bids.

The Clemson Tigers are the conferences lowest rated RPI team at 177, and they have a top 100 win. That is over UTEP. Coming into today the ACC is the only conference with every single member at least 2 games over .500, and they are one of only two of the top 8 RPI conferences not to have a team with a losing record. The bottom six RPI teams in the ACC have 6 top 100 wins. Guess what the Big 10 again considered the deepest and best basketball has 7. The Pac 12 the conference just behind the ACC in the conference strength has 4 such wins, by their bottom 6 teams. The Big 12 and their bottom 6 teams have 6 such wins.

Going back a couple of years, we look at kenpom.com.  The year’s lowest rated KenPom team is Virginia Tech at 163. Those same Hokies have wins over Oklahoma St. and Iowa.  You have to go back 3 years to 2010 to find the ACC’s lowest rated team higher than that. People tend to forget that 2011 and 2011 were the true down years in the ACC, when the ACC’s bottom teams were well into the 200s.

In 2010 and 2011 the ACC failed to have 3 teams be a top 5 seed in the NCAAs. In 2012 they had 3. The ACC is in position for that to happen again in 2013 with Duke, NC State, and Miami.

I could go deeper into the NCAA scenarios this year, but I’ll leave that for my usual Mondays. Just keep in mind with a weak bubble, the ACC has as many as 8 teams that can still look at the NCAA tournament as a possibility.

You get past the first 3, and UNC, FSU, and MD are still very much in play. There’s even a slim possibility that a team or two could emerge from Virginia, Virginia Tech, Boston College or Wake Forest and get into this picture. In the end I believe 5 will make it though.

Going even further Georgia Tech, the conference’s last place team is ranked in the top 20 in defense.

Don’t get me wrong, the ACC is not the powerhouse league it’s been in the past. What I am arguing is there is quality depth that hasn’t been there quite some time, and this is in a down year for North Carolina basketball. This is how I would breakdown the ACC.

Elite Teams – Duke, NC State

NCAA Locks – Miami

Postseason a Possibility (NCAA, NIT, other) – UNC, Maryland, Florida State, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Boston College, Virginia, Clemson

Sitting at Home – Georgia Tech (Will start ACC play 0-5 after loss today at home to Virginia Tech, and games at Duke and North Carolina.

At this time in the ACC, I have 11 out of the 12 ACC teams that I think still have shot at post-season play. Of course newcomers this upcoming season Pittsburgh and Syracuse will only enhance the ACC in basketball. Do you agree or disagree?

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