ACC Wrap-Up

The ACC Season came to a bloody and unpleasant end last night, with Duke's Gerald Henderson busting UNC's Tyler Hansbrough open with an elbow to the face in the final seconds of a Carolina victory. Henderson was ejected from the game, and will reportedly be suspended for Duke's first-round ACC tournament game.

(My take: looking at the replay, I think it's clear that Henderson was going in there intending to hit Hansbrough. It don't think he deliberately hit him in the face, but the way he came flying in from an angle disn't leave any room for him to not foul Hansbrough. It ended up worse than he intended, but those are the breaks.)

With the win, North Carolina takes the top seed in this coming weekend's ACC tournament. Actually, they're tied with Virginia in the standings, but they hold the tiebreak over the Cavaliers. Maryland finishes tied for third with VA Tech and BC, but lost to both giving the Terps the fifth seed in the tournament. Duke slips all the way to the seventh seed.

This has been a pretty wacky season, with wild swings for a bunch of teams. It also may be the worst performance I've seen on the part of the RPI. The final conference standings, with RPI ratings from this page (Pomeroy hasn't updated his version yet, or else I'd use those Update: Now with Ken Pomeroy's power ratings):

School Conference Overall RPI Pomeroy
North Carolina 11-5 25-6 3 1
Virginia 11-5 20-9 43 45
Virginia Tech 10-6 20-10 31 27
Boston College 10-6 19-10 30 40
Maryland 10-6 24-7 10 10
Georgia Tech 8-8 20-10 33 14
Duke 8-8 22-9 14 9
Clemson 7-9 21-9 36 24
Florida State 7-9 19-11 45 37
NC State 5-11 15-14 114 78
Wake Forest 5-11 14-15 124 85
Miami 4-12 11-19 163 93

This is just weird. I'm used to the computers giving slightly different results for some of the teams, but they're usually wrong toward the bottom of the conference standings. I don't think I've ever seen computer rankings fail quite so spectacularly at the top end, with three of the top four finishers rated twenty spots lower than the fifth-place team. I don't know if it's the unbalanced schedule (they no longer do a full round-robin, so some pairs of teams only played once), or what, but this is pretty strange.

Anyway, congratulations are due to Virginia, who are apparently doing it with mirrors. The pre-season magazine I have sitting here picked them sixth, which is better than a lot of other predictions, but they finished up in first. It's a nice coaching job by Dave Leitao.

Amusing Maryland-centric notes: the fifth seed means that Maryland opens the ACC tournament on Thursday against Miami, and a home loss to the Hurricanes is probably the biggest black mark on the Maryland record. If they win that, they get to play Boston College, who they also lost to, to open the conference season. They're either set up for redemption, or for a highly ironic fall-- we'll know this weekend.

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This is just weird. I'm used to the computers giving slightly different results for some of the teams, but they're usually wrong toward the bottom of the conference standings. I don't think I've ever seen computer rankings fail quite so spectacularly at the top end, with three of the top four finishers rated twenty spots lower than the fifth-place team. I don't know if it's the unbalanced schedule (they no longer do a full round-robin, so some pairs of teams only played once), or what, but this is pretty strange.

Oh, I think it's much simpler than that. The RPI measures performance during the whole season, while the conference standings reflect, well, conference play. Virginia, Virginia Tech and Boston College just didn't play that well in the early season, losing to subpar opponents like Utah, Marshall, Western Michigan, Vermont and Duquesne. The unbalanced schedule helped, but mostly those teams have just been playing better ball since January.